Stress Management: Three Simple Strategies to Avoid Burnout

Sleeping when studying - Nakhon Sawan, Thailand

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Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. A lot of people make the confusion between burnout and other mental health problems such as depression. Burnout is not considered as a mental illness by the DSM IV, but rather “A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines & Elliott Aronson

The origin of a burnout varies depending on people but it is usually the results of high demanding work environment combined with a high performer who is working too hard to meet expectations (self-imposed expectations or from the job requirements). The symptoms are extreme fatigue, lack of energy, exhaustion then people become disinterested by their jobs, they become aggressive or cynical and blame others for disillusionment with their work.

In this economy with layoffs all around us employees are scared to show weakness and are afraid to tell when they are overloaded with work or sick..  Being overloaded brings stress and it can make you more prone to catch a cold or flu then if you don’t take enough rest by going to work no matter what, you will  get more stress as you cannot function properly. In addition, with today’s highly wired working environment, people are constantly bombarded with information and demanding requests from a global organization where, like Queen Victoria  said about the British empire, ” the sun never sets.”.

Burnout is not only the privilege of global workers it happens also to those who receive more than 100 emails per day, work on Sundays until 1am or the jet-lagged travelers abusing the “red-eye” flight from San Diego to New York. It can happen to the so-called “Blackberry Moms” who are aiming high to prove the world that they can do everything at home and at work. Your kids too are at risk with high expectation from their parents, pressure of exams and peer pressure.



Make sure your needs are met first before your help others.

Identify your natural working style and preferences as well as things you don’t like and check the gap with what you want to project at work. The higher the difference between what you really are and what you want to show to others the higher chance to get a burnout. Consider working with a personal coach to take a psychometric test to identify your profile.


Just say no in a very calm tone, do not give too detailed excuses. If you are afraid to lose a relationship or a job because you say no, then it is time to think to either drop your friend or change career that is a better fit to your profile or if you have been recently laid off it might be time to look for jobs with less stress. Otherwise try to explain to your boss with facts that you can do only certain amount of work and offer options : delegate, change priorities, use a different system, use technology etc.


Eat Well  (plan your meals one week in advance and shop accordingly, do online shopping for groceries to save time, increase your intake of fruits and vegetable, use apples rather than highly refined junk food. Do not skip breakfast.

Exercise: no time ? try to avoid using your car whenever possible, just 30 minutes per day of walking or using stairs is already beneficial for your health and your mood.

Sleep Enough, know what is the right number of hours for you maybe between 6 and 8 and try to go to bed before 11pm, the quality of the sleep is better. Use meditation or other kind of stress-relief techniques like essential oils, yoga, healing/new age music…Actually you can download free podcasts on guided meditations on iTunes.

Since burnout starts by physical and emotional exhaustion those 3 simple tips will help you stay on the safe side but do not hesitate to check with your doctor if you experiment intense fatigue, feeling down or loosing appetite and interest in life, it could be depression that needs to be treated.

BE WELL and don’t forget to have fun

Related articles: How to Overcome Career Burnout (


About Anne Egros, Executive, Career and Expat Life Coach

Zest and Zen is a blog about Expat Life Challenges, Global Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Change Psychology, Life Transitions
This entry was posted in Coaching, culture shock, HR Management, self-help, stress management, Well being and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Stress Management: Three Simple Strategies to Avoid Burnout

  1. Pingback: Leadership Thought #234 – Are You Spread Too Thin? « Ed Robinson's Blog

  2. Paul Morin says:

    Hi Anne,

    Nice post on a subject that becomes more and more relevant as the pace of our lives becomes ever crazier and we’re always “connected”. Eat well, sleep well and exercise frequently — all very important and all difficult to keep up with when you’re very busy. These are even more difficult to keep up with when you’re traveling a ton and can’t get on a “regular schedule”. I think it’s also key to find a sport or a hobby, where you can unwind and forget about everything else. Finally, I find it very therapeutic to spend time with my family, especially when we can do fun and productive (sports, exercise, hobbies) TOGETHER, thus “killing two birds with one stone”. Life’s a journey, so it’s key to keep yourself healthy, mentally and physically. “Burnout” tends to occur when we get SO busy and SO focused that we neglect our physical and mental health. Thanks for a great post.


  3. Frankly, I think both psychological and physical burnout are occurring more frequently as our society continues to move at an increasingly faster pace with expectations adjusted accordingly. I know lab technicians who are expected to scan so many slides so quickly that they’re burned out even before they finish out their day. And I know doctors who are experiencing psychological burnout because they are so fed up with having to fill out all the little squares on their medical forms when many of their patients don’t meet the criteria on those forms and just don’t fit into those nice, tidy little squares. I think our entire society needs an overall readjustment!

    • I agree Sandra, Our brains and bodies are not well equipped to manage fast changes and information overload, the two plagues of today’s global world. We need discipline and hard work to achieve our goals yet we get distracted and interrupt all the time, and that is exhausting !

  4. An Apple a day keeps the doctor away, if the doctor’s cute, keep away the fruit !
    As always your article is short, right to the point, accurate and in sync with my beliefs. Distance doesn’t change the way we “link” with someone.

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