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Therapy for Work Stress

Stress and Burnout

What is burnout?

Burnout is a word that gets thrown around, but what does it actually mean? Burnout refers to feelings of being emotionally and physically exhausted, typically stemming from either a high-pressure job or personal life. It's not uncommon for people in demanding fields like public service, high stress industry, healthcare related, or the arts to experience burnout.
What's the difference between burnout and stress?

One may experience burnout after going through a chronic amount of stress, but it isn't the same as being stressed.
Stress includes an increase in pressure, workload, or demand - whether physical or mental. The difference between burnout and regular stress is that someone who suffers from regular stress can still see the light at the end of their tunnel; they even have enough hope to regain control over themselves.
But those with burnout feel there is no hope left for them, so they don't bother seeing what might be waiting ahead for them. Burned out people also tend to show signs such as loss of motivation or interest in anything, often leading them to thoughts about suicide or self-harm.
Those that are burned out usually don't take care of themselves properly; sleep deprived and lethargic would describe this feeling well because people burnt out aren't able to find any sense of joy in life anymore.

What is the root cause of burnout?

Burnout is often caused by a combination of factors that include high stress levels, lack of work-life balance, and unsupported work culture.

In her book Why Women Burn Out Dr. Karen Rennie-Peyton posits that the root cause for burnouts is often lack of control in their work environments.
Stress in the workplace can be heightened by other factors like lack of clarity on what you are supposed to do at work or feeling like you have no control over your workload.
Lastly, if your co-workers aren't supportive, chances are they will take their frustrations out on you while also not being able to help with tasks that are outside your skill set.

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Image by Priscilla Du Preez

What are signs of burnout?

Burnout is a serious problem that can lead to many negative consequences, such as depression and substance abuse. If you suspect that you might be experiencing burnout, take the following symptoms into account:

  • Excessive stress

  • Insomnia

  • Depressed mood

  • Unmotivated at work

  • Fatigue

  • Sadness,anger or irritability

  • Alcohol or substance misuse

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Frequently feeling sick or ill

How to deal with feelings of burnout at work?

1. Identify Your Triggers
People have different triggers for stress. Some people may be triggered by the sound of their alarm clock while others may be triggered by deadlines or schedules. Identifying your triggers can help you find ways to manage them, which will reduce your overall stress level.

2. Take an Inventory of Your Job
Work can be stressful, but there are some things you can do to prevent that stress from reaching unmanageable levels. For example, you could take an inventory of your job and see if there is anything you can change about it to make it more enjoyable or manageable. Is the work too demanding? Is the atmosphere toxic? Are there aspects of your job that are causing the stress? If so, try to make some changes around those areas and see if they improve things.

3. Come up with Solutions
This is a big topic that deserves its own blog post, but here are some things you can do to improve your situation. When you're feeling stressed, take deep breaths to help your body relax and regain control. You should also try doing things like going for a walk outside or getting away from the office for an hour or two. If all else fails, try talking to someone about your stressors—a friend, coworker, or therapist.

4. Create a Positive Mental State in the Morning
Before you go to bed, write down three things that went well today.
When you wake up, make sure to tell yourself that this is going to be a good day. Give yourself some positive affirmations about the day ahead. Even just saying I can do this or I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to can give you some mental strength for the day ahead.

5. Get together with loved ones
Investing more time in relationships and spending time with your loved ones is another way to avoid work-related stress. Take the time to talk to friends and family about your worries, concerns, and stresses. It may not be possible to solve your problems, but your family can give you the emotional support you need to overcome burnout.

Can therapy help with work stress and burnout?

Work stress and burnout can come from many sources, but no matter where it comes from, it can feel like it's taking over your life and making you sick. If you are feeling the symptoms of work stress, don't put up with them any longer! Therapy can help by decreasing feelings of stress, allowing you to return to your happy and productive self.

To learn new coping skills, find solutions, and reduce psychological symptoms due to work stress, psychotherapy uses psychological methods. Psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy,  and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are effective.


Burnout can be treated, reduced, and prevented using psychotherapy.

Researchers found significant reductions in cortisol (stress hormone) levels among burnout patients who received 14 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions compared to burnout patients who did not receive any treatment. A reduction in stress levels is associated with a reduction in burnout symptoms.

Treatment plans that are centered around your individual needs are more likely to be successful, as are those that begin early, before stress symptoms become overwhelming.

Burnout is a vicious cycle that can seem impossible to overcome, but we can help you overcome it with the support and advice of our team of caring professionals at Blue Oak Counseling.


Let's explore how stress impacts your mental and physical health, and we'll teach you new ways to manage stress and cope with stressful situations in the future.

Call (909) 366-4712 or contact us today and speak with one of our compassionate care providers.

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