How much stress is too much stress?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

How much stress is too much stress?

There’s a thin line between stress and burnout, and sometimes it is hard to tell which is which. Considering that stress can be a good thing occasionally, it is also important to be aware of what too much of it can do to your body and lifestyle, especially if it is escalating into burnout.

Burnout is when your body goes into shutdown mode after a constant period of stress. And when you reach that point, it is more difficult to manage your personal state of mind as it goes beyond the physical exhaustion. Here are five tell-tale signs:

1 You suffer from digestion problems.

When stomach problems persist, even with your diet monitored, this could indicate that you’re on the brink of burnout. Your gut works almost like your second brain, so that could mean your mental health needs some TLC. If you’re still unsure, it’s best to see your doctor about it.

2 You’re constantly exhausted.

If you still feel extremely worn out and lethargic, even after clocking sufficient hours of sleep, it could mean that your body is at its breaking point. Try to take a few days off from work to rest and recuperate your body and soul.

3 You’re irritable most of the time.

Your patience will always wear thin when you’re on the verge of burnout.

This could lead to frequent disagreements or constant snaps at your other half, friends or even colleagues.

4 You’re constantly falling sick.

Your immune system tends to take the fall for sky-high stress levels. And that’s when you easily catch any bug that’s going around the office or home, so do check yourself when you fall ill way too often or when your common cold takes too long to clear.

5 You’ve stopped going out.

If you’re always turning down invitations to head out with your friends simply because you feel like staying home by yourself, that could be a sign of imminent burnout.

When this happens, there’s no need to force yourself to socialise immediately, but try heading out of the house for a walk or to get a cup of coffee. Baby steps!