Stress Fundamentals That Will Make You Think

What is stress? What is burnout?

Stress is our body’s response to external pressures, challenges, or demands. It’s like a symphony of physiological reactions orchestrated by our nervous system. When faced with stressors, our body’s alarm bells ring, preparing us for action.

High achievers are at the most significant risk for chronic stress and burnout because they are high performers, constantly taking on new tasks and pushing their limits. That’s incredible, but listen up; it’s time for sustainable growth so that you can continue to perform at high levels in the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

This article covers the fundamentals of stress and burnout, learning the definitions and signs while understanding your limits to help you avoid burnout and break the cycle of chronic stress.

If you want to learn more about the nervous system’s role in the stress response, check out this article I wrote here.

Chronic Stress Definition:

What is stress? Stress definition

Chronic stress is like a relentless drumbeat—persistent and unyielding. It stems from ongoing pressures, whether work-related or personal. Signs include:

  • The everyday feeling of pressure and overwhelm.
  • Constant cycle of being busy and saying yes.
  • Always doing but never feeling accomplished.

Burnout Definition:

According to Camh, burnout isn’t just feeling tired after a long day; it’s a persistent state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It’s the next stage after chronic stress.

Burnout means:

  • Consistent exhaustion, constantly feeling drained.
  • Everything feels overwhelming.
  • Persistent fatigue regardless of sleep or rest.

Understanding your stress limits

Here are the signs of burnout and chronic stress. Use these to understand when you might be reaching your limits.

Stress symptoms and signs of burnout

  • Panic attacks
  • Not being able to get out of bed
  • Irritable
  • Angry or frustrated
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Brain fog
  • Poor eating habits (grabbing comfort or junk food)
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Not seeing your friends
  • The IG scroll
  • Poor sleep
  • Gaming all night
  • Not getting outside

Could you take a moment to reflect? Which of these signs of chronic stress and burnout are familiar to you? By learning to identify and become aware, you can use these signals to tell you you’re out of balance.

The more in tune you can be with yourself, the more you’ll know how to support yourself and be able to communicate that to the others in your life.

So, now, what do I do?

You may have read those definitions and symptoms and might now be thinking – oh shit, that’s me. First, let’s celebrate this moment because now you have the power to start making changes to break this cycle.

  • Talk about it. Normalize talking about this with your family and friends.
  • Seek help! Therapists, coaches and other practitioners are trained to help. Check out my article on support systems to find out which support is the best for you.
  • Explore tools and practices that work for you, like detox from technology, taking time to be creative or yoga.

Your ambitions don’t have to come at the cost of your well-being. Join “Balance Over Burnout,” a free 2-week program to help you overcome stress and realign your life. Over two weeks, you’ll receive emails with resources and coaching exercises focusing on well-being, chakras, energy, reflective questions, and practices such as yoga nidra and meditation. Sign up here.

For additional stress management strategies, check out this article.

Remember, stress isn’t our enemy—it’s our body’s signal. We can dance with it by understanding its nuances rather than be swept away.


  2. Verywell Mind
  3. Mental Health UK
  4. Verywell Mind on Chronic Stress
  5. Psych Central
  6. Career Burnout, camh
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