12/02/2015 06:42 GMT | Updated 13/04/2015 06:59 BST

Can't Be Burnout... It's Just Stress!

Co-authored by Dr Bev McLagan (The Burnout Queens). UK's leading coaches for women and burnout.


When we worked with women with serious eating disorders we often heard "It's just a diet".

Now, specialising in burnout we hear... "It's just stress!"

What is it with us women that we always minimise our experiences? We excuse feeling constantly exhausted, overwhelmed and totally over-extended by telling ourselves that everyone feels this way.

Heads up! Not everyone feels this way!

If you are feeling constantly and completely exhausted, running on empty, stretched to snapping point, and maybe even lying awake at night wondering if you can do it all again tomorrow, that's not " just stress", that is burnout.

Unfortunately, it has become common place in our society to talk about feeling "soooo burned out!" We often hear, "I had such a busy week, I'm so burned out!" or "the kids have been home all week, I'm so burned out! " (well that one may be true!) but most likely that is normal, everyday, stress, tension, or just being good old fashioned tired after hard work. Sit down, have a cup of tea, a rest, or a good sleep-in on the weekend, and you feel revived. That is not burnout.

Burnout cannot be 'cured' with a good cup of tea, a sleep in on Saturday, or a weekend in the country!

Burnout is very real. If you get caught in the trap of telling yourself that what you are experiencing is " just stress", your health will deteriorate, your career will be affected, and your relationships will suffer. Burnout is serious. Burnout will affect every area of your life.

Here's the problem, when you are truly burning out, but denying it by telling yourself that "it is just stress", you end up feeling like you are failing.

• You believe you should be able to deal with stress, everyone does.

• You harass yourself with, "What's wrong with me? I should just cope?"

• You tell yourself that feeling completely fried is normal!

Keep on telling yourself that " it's just stress", and you dismiss what you are feeling, ignore your symptoms, and dig deeper to find energy to keep pushing yourself until you are going to drop. Keep on telling yourself that "it's just stress", and you are less likely to share, to seek help, or to take yourself seriously. In fact, you are way more likely to get and feel totally stuck in your life.

Remember, burnout isn't about age, gender, or whether you work or not. Burnout doesn't require you to be a 24/7 banker or corporate executive. Burnout affects almost anyone. Burnout results from a conflict between your needs, your wants, your desires, and your environment.

Burnout results from living a burnout lifestyle.

Don't let your dreams disappear. Stop telling yourself that "it's just stress" and save yourself from the pain and disillusionment of burnout.


Take mini recovery-breaks.

Tension builds up over time and eventually ends up as chronic STRESS. What are the signs you need a break? Yawning, losing concentration, reading the same thing over and over, daydreaming, rubbing your neck...your body and mind will tell you when "time is up"!

So take 5-10 minute recovery-breaks every 60 to 90 minutes to replenish and refocus. How? Easy! Get up, stretch, walk around, get a breath of fresh air, have a chat with a co-worker, get a drink of water, make a quick call to connect with someone. Watch how quickly your mood, energy, and focus improves.

Quick, easy, strategic.