Stress & Burnout – Chicken or The Egg?

Managing stress and fatigue is often a matter of understanding where stress begins. Whether it is family stress, workplace stress, or stress within your mind… managing stress will begin with an understanding that stress is your response to the triggers. You may not be able to control the stressor itself, but you have much ability to exercise your own response. You can respond positively, resulting in beneficial eustress; or negatively, resulting in destructive distress.

For example, efforts to stop smoking frequently generates more stress and fatigue. The stress is not the fact that you cannot smoke when you want to – that is the trigger. On the one hand, your response to that trigger can be one of delight that you are finally going to kick the habit. Such a response will be beneficial stress that empowers you to stick with it. On the other hand, your response may be a desire to fight against your determination to quit. You may respond inwardly that it is too difficult and tiring; and you may become depressed by the situation.

Similar examples of debilitating stress can cause chronic fatigue and/or complete burnout. It is possible that different types of burnout are becoming a chronic public health issue. Workplaces are demanding that we all run like machines, demanding increased output while putting less and less fuel back in. At some point, our bodily machines just completely sputter out.

Managing stress and fatigue is a matter of playing both ends against the middle.

1. Fatigue can often be the cause of stress, since we are less able to respond appropriately when we are tired. Sufficient rest is KEY in managing stress at any level. Setting regular sleep hours, and adhering to them, can relax the mind, emotions, and physical body, making them ready to deal with stressors.

2. Stress can often be the cause of fatigue and burnout. Responding to stressors with debilitating stress drains the body of energy and leaves an individual lethargic. Responding with beneficial eustress fills the body with energy and determination. Managing stress with eustress will usually result in a reduction of fatigue.

3. Read more here on the difference between eustress and distress. 

Helpful Tip

Beware of info on managing stress that implies we can only manage burnout after stress and fatigue have already taken hold. Some believe that managing stress is a matter of locking the barn door after the horse has gotten out and is racing across the fields! Truly managing stress requires a proactive approach and learning to recognize your triggers a lot sooner. Gaining an understanding of stress, fatigue and burnout builds safety valves into your life so that you can learn to respond with eustress.

 

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