Normal Stress or Burnout?

Posted on November 15, 2017 by VITAL WorkLife

Updated April 22, 2020

Stress is a common part of everyday life, and in some cases, can be helpful for productivity and motivation. But when stress becomes chronic or causes negative personal or professional repercussions, it can tip into burnout. According to, a mental health site that collaborates with Harvard Medical School, here’s how to recognize the differences:

Stressnormal stress burnout

  • Feel very busy, but your workload is manageable
  • Easily distracted, but still able to complete most tasks
  • Irritated and frustrated on an occasional basis
  • Motivated to get more done in a shorter amount of time
  • Feel frazzled, like you can’t move fast enough
  • New challenges add to your busy schedule, but are still welcomed
  • Feeling of being overwhelmed comes and goes


  • Feel overwhelmed, like you’ll never get caught up
  • Unable to meet demands of the jobs
  • Constantly irritable and frustrated
  • Indifferent and resentful about getting tasks done
  • Numb and fatigued, as if you can’t muster enough energy
  • Bored by activities and challenges you used to be energized by
  • Every day feels like a bad day you dread facing

Warning Signs

Stress doesn’t always lead to burnout. But when it does, these are some early red flags:

  • Feel drained most of the time, no matter how much sleep you got
  • Prone to colds and other illness due to lowered immunity
  • Higher degree of pain like headaches or muscle aches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constant use of sarcasm or negative comments
  • Decreased sense of accomplishment
  • Self-doubt about simple decisions
  • Avoid social situations
  • Drink more alcohol or use drugs to “relax”
  • Increased procrastination

Speaking with a consultant or coach can help provide a further understanding of the symptoms. If you have any of the warning signs of burnout or feel an undue amount of stress, consider getting assistance.

Are you experiencing stress or burnout? To learn more about how you can achieve an improved work-life balance call us at 877.731.3949 or contact us online today! 

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