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What is stress burnout and are you affected by it?

James Gray

Owner/Editor at Busara Ltd
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. My photo-journalism has been represented by Agence France-Presse.
James Gray

According to the latest stress study by the Mental Health Foundation 74% of people in the UK have felt unable to cope due to stress; the effects of which include poor sleep, anxiety and depression.

The culmination of these effects is “Burnout”, which is defined by American social psychologist Christina Maslach as physical and emotional exhaustion, combined with cynicism and reduced self-confidence. 

The impact of stress cannot be ameliorated by engaging in self-care which only addresses one aspect of stress, says expert Raina Beuckelaers. Raina insists that stress has both physical and psychological effects which must be managed simultaneously.

There is a common misconception that an hour of relaxation or therapy alone can effectively recharge the batteries. Yet Raina believes that people must take a short break to reflect upon the root cause of their stress: 

“To me, stress is something that affects your brain but also physically infiltrates your body. In order to relieve it, you need to pay attention to both body and mind.

It isn’t enough to focus on only one of the two pillars, that won’t solve the problem. You need to work on both relaxation and reflection. You really need a break away from everything to work on yourself for a few days, so you have the time to reflect and to truly relax.”  

Raina credits any professional who helps people manage their stress from week to week, including psychotherapists and physiotherapists. She believes their work is vital, but to really address stress a person must take a proper break for self-reflection and to learn relaxation techniques which can be adopted day-to-day.

To her this means that stress quick fixes aren’t as effective as taking short breaks from daily life and the solution to stress and burnout lies in managing the physical and psychological effects simultaneously.

Two days off and going back to the office does not solve anything. It just delays the inevitable.

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