Stress Versus Burnout, Part 1 – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 502
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Stress Versus Burnout, Part 1 – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 502
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
InVite Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Amanda Williams, MPH: [00:00:40] We’ve all said it from time to time, and that is, “I am so stressed out,” or “Oh, I feel burned out.” Today, I want to talk about the difference between stress and burnout because there is a distinct difference and understanding that is key in terms of being able to manage it. And in Part 2, I’m going to talk about nutrients that can be incredibly supportive when it comes to enhancing your energy and giving you that sense of just wanting to get out there and get back to life and do the things that you enjoy doing. So I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, and let’s get right to it.† [00:01:15]
[00:01:16] Let’s talk about the actual difference between stress and burnout, because the two often go hand-in-hand. And one thing that we do know is that when it comes to stress, uncontrolled stress or chronic stress… It’s one thing to have acute stress. This is when you get startled or you can have eustress, which is actually good stress. Maybe you’re nervous a little bit to get on a rollercoaster. And so that would be a sense of you stress. So it’s not bad stress. And so some stress is actually good. Chronic stress, on the other hand, completely different. It’s kind of like when we look at the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. We know that acute inflammation is good. It helps our body heal and recover. But chronic inflammation is detrimental to our health. It’s the same thing when we look at stress and everyone has probably heard of this.† [00:02:13]
[00:02:14] They’ve actually done multiple studies to assess the level of burnout in people who work. And when you look at the statistics, it’s really incredibly alarming. I’ve done many presentations on stress and burnout through the years and presented to medical students, so they have a better awareness of why they need to be cognizant of the difference. And when you traverse over from stress into burnout, why that’s so detrimental. Because in healthcare in particular, you see a much greater likelihood of developing burnout than from other occupations. Clearly, it’s across all occupations, but we do see that in medicine in particular, it is a really alarmingly high rate and there’s a reason for this. And part of that is because the burnout phase starts in the education process. So starting in medical schools where most people start to go from that stress into the burnout category, and this is where the problem starts to present itself in terms of the long term implications.† [00:03:26]
[00:03:28] So I’ve talked about stress before in different podcasts and how we can go about trying to manage our stress. And as I mentioned in Part 2, I’ll go into different nutrients, but trying to differentiate between the two… When we think about being stressed out, this is when, you know, where emotions are very strong towards something like you really have a lot of care, I guess is one way to put it, put it into perspective. Where you feel very anxious and you feel kind of hyperactive, like, “Oh, I’m so stressed out, I have to race over here and I have to do this.” That is much different than burnout. Burnout is when you feel drained. You don’t, you no longer have that hyperactive component that’s driving you. You feel helpless. So you go from that anxious feeling to just feeling completely run down. And just, “What do I do?” And so you can see, even just from that example, that there is a clear distinction between the two.† [00:04:35]
[00:04:35] We know with stress, oftentimes we feel this in a more physical sense, where maybe your stomach, it’s, you know, people say, “Oh, my stomach’s in a knot.” Maybe you feel a little bit jittery. Maybe you feel like you’re sweating a little bit. When we look at burnout, we transition more over into that emotional component. So there’s also the physical that’s there because remember, we have the low-energy state, so you just feel completely drained. But it’s that emotional toll that really builds up when you have burnout, in a way, you almost have like this blunted emotional response. So when you’re stressed and someone says, “Oh, I need you to do this and I need you to do it right now,” you get yourself worked up and go, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to? I can’t do all of this.” So you’re still having this emotional attachment to it.† [00:05:24]
[00:05:25] When you are burned out, you have, in a sense, kind of checked out. And it’s key, too, to understand this because we know that there is clearly a problem. And with every problem, we know that there are solutions and we don’t want to get ourselves to the point where the stress becomes so unmanageable that we do get burned out because once you’re at burnout, it’s very difficult. So we can kind of look at having a container or our coping reserve. We can have positive inputs into that coping reserve. We can have negative inputs into that coping reserve. In the outcome of trying to get that balance between the negative and the positive is what can dictate if we get burned out or if we can remain resilient, even under stress. So there are a lot of different factors that we have to consider, you know, positive input, such as having a good support system, having a good social life. Having a healthy diet, having someone who maybe mentors you, even in the setting of learning a new task at work, which can be stressful, but if you have someone who’s there and mentoring you, this can make all the difference. When we look at the negative inputs, you know, the stress building and mounting and mounting and having our own internal conflicts of, “Can I do this? Can I take all of this on?” This is when that coping reserve can get incredibly imbalanced. And then you start to see the signs of burnout, a sense of failure. You have a lot more self-doubt. You feel helpless. You feel defeated in many cases. Many times people start to withdraw. You become detached from your normal social setting. You have a loss of motivation. Maybe you become incredibly negative and you think, “I used to always be such a positive person and now I’m incredibly pessimistic. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just have a negative attitude towards it.” And this is a bad thing. And then we can look at even when you do accomplish something that you’re like, eh, and you just have no sense of satisfaction in that. Maybe you find that you are very irritable. Maybe your sleep patterns have become incredibly disrupted. Perhaps you’re sleeping more than you used to. Or maybe you can’t sleep at all. You can become very apathetic. You may start to have signs of different emotional breakdowns.† [00:08:10]
[00:08:11] And these are all things that we need to be aware of, because when they do studies and they say nearly 8 out of every 10 workers experience burnout at some point in their lives, then that’s a big problem. When they did a recent study looking at employee burnout, they surveyed over a thousand respondents, 77% of those said that they’ve experienced burnout at their current position. 91% that, said that the unmanageable stress or frustration impacts the quality of their work. And 83% of them said that burn out negatively affects personal relationships. So even those who they had in the survey that said, “Yeah, I’m still passionate about what I do, I still like what I do,” the 64 of them said “I’m still stressed out.” 64% of them still said, “I’m incredibly stressed out.” I’ve seen this in numerous studies in physicians where they have assessed, the Mayo Clinic has assessed physicians and 88% of doctors… This was years ago. Now you add the pandemic into it, but 88% of doctors, and this is probably 2015 that they assessed, said, “Yeah, I’m moderately to severely stressed.” Over 50% of them said, “Yeah, I think I could classify myself as being burned out.” So we know that this is prevalent.† [00:09:50]
[00:09:51] We know that the World Health Organization has defined burnout as a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. So what are we talking about? Acute stress that then becomes chronic stress that then becomes unmanageable stress that then becomes burnout. So then we have these feelings of energy depletion. We feel exhausted. We have this distancing from our emotions. And I said many people withdraw from social interactions. We know that when they’ve done work and wellbeing surveys, 80% of American workers who were assessed said they experienced work-related stress. I wanted to bring this up because I have a lot of people who reach out to me and ask, “You know, I feel stressed out or I have a lot going on right now and I’m taking care of this person, plus I’m working, I’m trying to go to school.” I mean, people sometimes put a lot on themselves. And trying to find ways to cope with that. Remember, we have our coping reserve. It’s creating that balance. We’re always going to have stress. There’s always going to be a certain amount of stressors that we have absolutely no control over, but it’s how we react to those stressors, how we manage that stress to prevent us from falling into that category of being burned out.† [00:11:32]
[00:11:33] And I myself have been in that position. I remember many years ago, you know, finishing medical school, working on my master’s degree in public health. I got to the point where I was technically burned out. I felt like my brain was like Play-Doh, like you could do as you wish with it because it didn’t matter to me anymore. And that’s a really bad place to be. And so through many different modifications in terms of my lifestyle, in terms of, you know, what I eat every day, the nutrients that I take in, being mindful, have made all the difference, that even in the setting of having to multitask and do all of these different things, I’m able to manage it. But we have to be cognizant, we can’t just accept it and say, “Well, I’m just stressed out and this is how it is.” No, you’re going to have stress, but having enough recognition for that stress, because remember, sometimes we think, “Well, maybe someone higher up is going to notice that I’m stressed out.” They’re not because they are stressed out themselves, even though from your, you know, point of view, you may not look and see that they’re stressed. But everyone has stress. So it’s identifying it in ourselves and then saying, “What can I do about this? Because I’m obviously, you know, I’m not going to change my job. I can’t change my job, which is the position that many workers are in. So how do I manage this better? What can I do to not allow myself to become withdrawn and to start to have this apathy towards everything? I have less motivation feeling drained.” Having a difficult time to put any type of effort into what you’re trying to do every day. And it matters to your overall longevity. At the end of the day, it truly does. We can see the, not only the mental health toll that this has, but the physiological effect of burnout. When it comes to the cardiovascular system, when it comes to our cognitive abilities, so we need to reconnect. And in Part 2, that’s what I’m going to talk about. What are things that we can be doing to better support all of the different stressors in our life to try and stop burnout from occurring? So that will be covered in Part 2. So do make sure that you tune in and listen to that.† [00:14:23]
[00:14:23] I want to thank you so much for listening to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting invitehealth.com/podcast. Do make sure that you subscribe and you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.† [00:14:23]