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Stress management and burnout

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Cathy Schuttler

Self Help Articles | January 5, 2012

Stress -- is it a grumpy boss, dealing with the rude public, sick kid or spouse, or churning stomach after an argument? Depending on who you talk to any of these may be considered "stress".

Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Stress -- is it a grumpy boss, dealing with the rude public, sick kid or spouse, or churning stomach after an argument? Depending on who you talk to any of these may be considered "stress".

Stress is an overused and misunderstood term; everyone has a different meaning for it. Part of the miscommunication happens because we refer to any of the above examples as stress, as well as we call our emotional response to the whole process stress.

We incorrectly lump everything together and refer to the triggering events stress, our body's physical reaction to the trigger like the churning stomach as stress, as well as the resulting emotional turmoil as stress. Which is correct? The correct definition of stress points to our emotional response to a triggering event.

The dictionary defines stress this way:

1. The mind and body's response to any internal or external pressure to disrupt our normal balance.

2. Condition of, or "the feeling experienced when a person perceives that the demands exceed their personal & social resources."

The stress process goes something like this:

1. Internal and/or external stress- triggering event occurs

2. Our perception of what's occurring or what might occur

3. An area of our body reacts to that thought

4. An emotion is launched in response to the situation. Anger, fear, frustration, panic, etc.

5. Ergo, Stress!

For the remainder of this article and all articles in the future from this source, I will be referring to the definition of stress as "the emotional reaction we experience in response to a situation or a perceived situation". The events that cause the emotional reaction are stressful or stress triggers, not the stress itself. It is important we make this clarification so that we are all talking about the same thing.

So in a nutshell, is stress an overdue bill, a computer crash or your coworker who plays her music so loud you can't concentrate? No, the stress in these events is our emotional response to these triggers.

To quote Marcus Aureulius in 180 a.d. said "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."

While on one hand we need stress to energize and motivate us into action, too much of a good thing can be harmful. As depicted on a bell curve, increasing levels of stress correlate with increasing motivation and energy (increasing side of a bell curve) commonly called "good stress".

At the point when a person feels they can no longer keep up with the demands, the mounting stress becomes deleterious to health. This is the point where a person's reserves start to deplete and stress starts to wreak its hazardous effects on the body / mind (the downward side of a bell curve).

Interestingly, the turning point that propels a person over the hump may not be another task, responsibility or "to do" item. A negative emotional shift is enough to push a person over the bell curve hump and into the downward health spiral. For instance, if a person has an argument or receives disturbing news from a loved one, the energizing effects of a big project or large "to do" list may suddenly switch to feelings of an overwhelming responsibility or burnout.

The point of feeling overwhelmed is where a large majority of us are. We no longer have enough down time or regenerative time to allow our body / mind / soul to rest and recuperate. Additionally, as a society we are ill trained in techniques that will "shift" us out of the downward stress-spiral and back to a state of ease and happiness.

Chronically dealing with stress without balancing with recuperation is eroding our performance and resilience -- or ability to "bounce back" after an emotional upset.

Source: Free Articles from


Stress significantly affects the development, progression and recovery from a wide variety of diseases, and workplace stress may be as bad for the heart as smoking and high cholesterol! Too many today are so familiar with stress that it becomes their defining means of self-identity. Does this sounds like you? Stress is eating away at your health even if you don't know it. Do something for yourself; visit for a valuable gift to help you right now!

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