Stress vs burnout — what’s the difference?


In the workplace, the words stress and burnout are often used interchangeably. However, they’re two completely different states of mind that shouldn’t be confused with one another.
Burnout is a cycle of negative emotions that’s often a result of investing too much into something physically, emotionally, and intellectually for extended periods of time. It’s like fatigue, only much worse. It’s basically the meaner, larger, older cousin of stress.
Stress, on the other hand, occurs when you’re struggling to cope with pressures. It’s the body’s reaction to a challenge or demand that requires too much of you physically and mentally. However, stress isn’t a constant state of mind like burnout; stressed individuals can still see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, even though getting there might be difficult.
And that’s the main difference between stress and burnout: with stress, there is an end in sight. Relief comes when a challenge or obstacle is overcome.
Burnout is perpetual and seemingly unending. Once burnout occurs, you’re essentially out of gas and you’ve given up hope of overcoming obstacles.
Burnout can’t exist without stress. Most of the time, they come hand-in-hand. Stress, however, can exist without burnout.