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Stress and Burnout: The New Epidemic?

In the Western world, 90% of all reported diseases are stress-related or caused or aggravated by stress as per assessment of leading medical experts in the US. Meanwhile, 12% of Australians are said to be “experiencing levels of stress in the severe range” according to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A State of the Nation Survey, a study conducted by the Australian Psychology Society. Furthermore, a story published on news.com.au cited that burnout is a big contributor to a $20 billion annual stress bill. It is also one of the small numbers of mental disorders acknowledged by Work Safe Australia  as caused categorically by overwork.
  
Stress and burnout, are they one and the same?
Although closely related, stress and burnout are two different things. Burnout could be the effect of relentless stress, but it is not too much stress either.

Stress
Stress, as defined by American scientist Hans Selye, is the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it to adapt, whether that demand produces pain or pleasure.” Anything that presents itself as a threat or a challenge to a person’s well being is a potential “stressor” that can cause stress.
Human beings cannot escape from stress since stress is the mind and body’s response to the world around it. When an external experience intrudes on a person’s belief system, the brain decodes the experience and dictates a response to the body.
There is good stress and bad stress. Good stress is a challenge that when overcome provides a feeling of achievement, fulfillment and even joy. In fact, without good stress, life may just be very boring and uneventful. Bad stress, on the other hand is when the “stressor ”undermines the physical and mental health of an individual.
People usually use the word stress when they feel that everything is getting to be over much-too much work, too much family pressure, etc.-and is making too much demand on them psychologically and physically. But that feeling is not hopeless, since “stressed” people think that they’ll feel better if they can get things under control.   

Burnout
Burnout is a condition that combines physical, mental and emotional weariness brought about by too much relentless stress. It comes with a feeling of devastation and inability to cope with the consistent demands of a stressor, which is work in almost all cases. As stress becomes unrelenting, a person begins to lose impetus and motivation for the tasks at hand leaving them feeling hopeless and helpless. Burnouts bankrupt a person’s productivity, enfeeble them and make them increasingly hostile and cynical. Ultimately, the person feels he has nothing more to give.
Burnout develops gradually over a period of time. It catches up on an individual as a result of an aggregation of a series of small personal disappointment, occasional lost hopes and desultory negative thoughts. It is the effect of attempting to accomplish too much for too long when the indications are that there is no way expectations will be met. Burnout usually happens to the best of them-brilliant, hard-working people who expect much from themselves.


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