10 warning signs of stress burnout and 10 proven ways to get your life back together

A prolonged period of extreme stress can have severe detrimental effects on your health. Whilst stress can appear as a positive: driving you to achieve more, making you feel more alert and improving your memory, a scientific study by Dr Sharon Toker et al of Tel Aviv University suggests that stress burnout can be a greater heart attack risk than smoking!

Here are 10 warning signs to help you recognise you’ve reached stress burnout:

  • Futility – feeling helpless and hopeless.
  • Lethargic – feeling tired and drained of energy, most of or all of the time.
  • Feeling unappreciated.
  • Intolerant – feeling extremely irritable.
  • Insomnia.
  • Weak immunity – prone to infections.
  • Frequent aches – headaches, back pain, stomach pain etc.
  • Change in eating habits – either comfort eating or a lack of appetite.
  • Poor memory.
  • Lack of concentration.

Although all may feel like doom and gloom, the good news is that once you recognise the signs and are willing to do something about them, you are ready to start your recovery. Recovery may take time.

10 proven ways to keep calm and carry on:

  • Identify the cause – if it is work related, find ways that you can defer, delegate to a colleague or remove things from your “to do list” altogether. If these strategies are not possible, it may be necessary to change your job.
  • If possible take a holiday.
  • Make time for yourself and listen to your body – e.g. rest when you are feeling tired. Factor in time for things that you used to enjoy e.g. going to the cinema, walk in the park, listening to music and reading.
  • Exercise little and often.
  • Healthy diet – eating 3 balanced meals a day, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, ensuring you drink plenty of water.
  • Treat insomnia – ‘sleep hygiene’ is important; keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, banish all electrical equipment, minimal lighting and avoid caffeine at least 8 hours before bedtime.
  • Relaxation techniques – it will help clear your mind if you meditate (e.g. 10 minutes twice a day), practise yoga and/or breathing exercises.
  • Share your problems with close friends and family.
  • Be patient – it’s important to be kind to yourself and ease your way back into recovery. Try setting 20 minutes each day to think about anything that is worrying you and think of what you can do to resolve these problems.
  • Seek professional help if need be.


-Emma Ferguson


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These suggestions have a track record of working for people in this situation. We recommend that you try these tips and see which ones are suitable for you. You may find that other approaches work for you too. Depending on your circumstances, a consultation with your GP may be advised.

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