The Difference Between Stress and Workplace Burnout

The Difference Between Stress and Workplace Burnout

For anyone working in a challenging, high-stress profession, workplace burnout is something frequently experienced and difficult to prevent, and the extreme physical and emotional exhaustion associated with it, can be incredibly difficult to cope with.

Until recently, workplace burnout has been defined as a stress syndrome, but with an updated definition by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is now referred to in their diagnostic manual, as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The Symptoms of Workplace Burnout are Listed by the WHO as the Following:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings negative towards one’s career
  • reduced professional productivity

Burnout can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health, and it’s hoped that with the WHOs new definition, others will become more aware of the perils of workplace burnout, and give those suffering from it more access to effective treatment.

What Are Some of the Most Common Signs of Workplace Burnout?

There are several signs that someone may be struggling to cope with burnout, but the following five are perhaps the most common:

Stress is Becoming Too Much to Manage

While the new definition by the WHO does highlight that burnout syndrome is much more than stress alone, stress is at its heart. Whereas stress can be kept to a minimum with various coping techniques, burnout is caused by a series of unsuccessful attempts to cope with stress in the workplace over a certain period of time.

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Feeling Consistently Drained

If work no longer energizes or inspires you, and your energy levels have been progressively depleted, burnout can quickly kick in.

Work is no Longer Pleasurable

Even if your job is tiring by its nature, if you feel valued in the workplace and fulfilled by your role, you may not experience workplace burnout. However, if you are suffering from burnout, you may find little to no pleasure in your work at all.

Work Conjures Up Only Negative Thoughts

Burnout might leave you with negative thoughts and cynicism about your work, and make you feel as if there is nothing good about your role, even if you used to enjoy it and find it worthwhile. With severe burnout, you can become flooded with such thoughts that are difficult to escape from.

Decreased Self-Efficacy

Even if you previously used to enjoy your work and be competent in your role, workplace burnout can make you doubt your abilities and lose any motivation that you once had for your job.

Stress alone can be difficult to manage, but when it evolves into workplace burnout, it can have a significant impact not just on your working life, but on your life in general. If you recognize any of the above signs of workplace burnout, you could benefit from therapeutic counseling with a trained mental health professional.