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Navigating Everyday Stress and Preventing Burnout

Stress is a normal part of life, and it isn’t always bad for you if it’s managed appropriately. Unfortunately, it’s common in our busy society to expose ourselves to too much stress, which can quickly become unhealthy.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you have to keep up with work, health, social obligations, family responsibilities, chores, and everything else on your agenda. While all of your responsibilities may be valuable uses of your time, it's important to learn how to manage them healthily to avoid burnout.

How to Recognize When You’re at Risk of Burnout

Burnout can make you ignore your emotions, which is why it’s common to not realize when it’s happening. Watch for these signs of burnout to know if you need to take a break or dial things back:

Feeling Frequently Tired

Many people ignore exhaustion because they become so used to feeling that way. But when you feel tired all the time, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Rest is essential for a well-functioning body.

You need sufficient sleep and time to relax to have the energy required for each of your tasks. It’s important to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Don’t let your day become so busy that you miss out on sleep.

Your body needs rest in other ways than just sleep, though. If you live an active lifestyle, your muscles and joints may need time to rest so your muscles can rebuild and your joints can stay healthy. If most of your days are highly physical, plan a few days a week with lower amounts of physical activity.

Loss of Motivation

If you find yourself simply going through the motions and feeling unmotivated, this is likely a sign of burnout. When you used to take joy in your routine, but now you wish you didn’t have to do it, it’s probably time to make some adjustments.

Increased use of Caffeine, Alcohol, or Sugar

It’s easy to turn to our vices when overwhelmed with stress. A major increase in caffeine use can signal you’re trying to manage more than you have energy for. Caffeine is a drug that helps you ignore feelings of exhaustion, but it can also cause an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone that can make you ultimately feel worse. Doctors recommend never exceeding more than 400 milligrams of coffee in a day.

Alcohol floods the brain with dopamine, which gives temporary relief from feelings of stress. Because of this, many people increase their alcohol consumption when their life becomes overwhelming.

Excess alcohol consumption can be very dangerous, so it’s important to note if your alcohol consumption has increased. Your body may feel like it’s craving alcohol, but what it’s really craving is relief from stress, which can be obtained in much healthier ways.

A shift in diet can also signal burnout. Eating excessive amounts of sugar causes increases in dopamine, similar to the increase received from alcohol. Unfortunately, sugar also causes energy crashes, making stress feel less manageable later.

It’s also common to consume more sugar when you don’t have enough time to prepare healthy meals. If you’ve noticed your diet shifting to be less healthy, don’t ignore it as a sign that you may be feeling burnout.

Getting into More Arguments

When you’re burned out, your nervous system is likely in an overactive state because of the frequent exposure to stress. An overactive nervous system can put you on edge, causing you to feel irritated or angry more often. If you’ve noticed yourself getting into more frequent arguments with friends, family members, or others in your life, it may signal that your nervous system needs a break from all the stress.

Stress Relief Techniques

Many of us will feel periods of stress throughout our lives, but managing that stress in positive ways is essential for living a healthy and happy life. Here are some stress relief techniques that can help you find some relief:


Meditation is a valuable tool for increasing mindfulness and regulating emotions. Mindfulness is the ability to recognize your emotions, physical sensations, and needs. This is important during busy and stressful times. You’ll become more mindful, better able to recognize when it’s time to give yourself a break, and know when to slow down.

You can meditate while sitting still or walking slowly. Find a quiet environment and focus your thoughts on your breath and the physical sensations in your body. Allow thoughts to come to you, but don’t dwell on them. Each time your mind wanders, bring it gently back to your breath and your body.


Physical activity has been proven in many studies to be a useful stress-relieving tool. It increases endorphins and dopamine and helps your body release symptoms of stress like muscle tension and excess energy.

Some people struggle to find time for exercise while in periods of high stress because it’s hard to add one more thing to the agenda. Exercise can often fit into your schedule without removing anything else.

You can walk or bike when you have to visit nearby locations. You can replace a social activity with a walk and a chat. While it can be tough to add exercise to your routine because you may initially feel low energy, exercise actually increases your energy levels.

It’s important to find an exercise you enjoy. Try out different activities until you find one that fits. Yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, or weight-lifting are common types of exercise, but there’s an endless list of ways to be active. Any activity where you move your body can count as exercise and provide stress-relieving benefits. Aim to be physically active for at least 30 minutes five days a week.

Find a Creative Outlet

Creativity is an excellent way to process your emotions, increase mindfulness, and connect with yourself. It’s important to take time for creative outlets, even when you’re busy because they can help you maintain your sense of self and avoid burnout.

If you’ve had a creative outlet like writing, photography, or music in the past, be sure you make time for this. If there’s not enough time in your schedule, you may want to cut out some of your responsibilities because making time for self-expression is crucial to maintaining good mental health.

If you’ve never developed a creative hobby in the past, try out a variety of things until you find one you like. You might try enrolling in a class to learn a new skill. Creativity can be expressed in many forms. Some people like to express their creativity through food or the way they dress. Anything that feels like an expression of yourself can be a positive creative outlet.

Turn to Mental Healthcare Professionals for Support

If stress and burnout have significantly impacted your mental health, a mental healthcare professional can help you get the support you need. Stress can cause symptoms of mental illness to flare up. In some cases, excess stress can bring new mental health issues to the surface.

The staff at Jackson House can help you find the right treatment programs to help you get back on track to feeling healthy and happy. Reach out for a free consultation to discuss how to best meet your mental health needs.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.