Managing Stress & Burnout

This is the first of a new series of articles covering issues surrounding mental health and how to manage it.

Stress and burnout can affect everybody, from students taking exams to employees in busy jobs. Whilst a bit of pressure can be used in a positive way and be motivational, too much can be a drain of energy and affect your mental health. Here we talk you through some practical ways of managing stress and avoiding burnout.

What is the difference between stress and burnout?

Stress refers to your mental or emotional state, due to adverse conditions such as a high-pressure job, or the amount of work that needs to be done to prepare for exams, for example.

Burnout, on the other hand, is a condition resulting from long periods of exposure to stress. It leads to reduced mental resilience, exhaustion and poor mental health.

How can people manage their stress levels?

Stay organised – Keeping a steady flow of tasks being completed can help you to stay motivated and calm. A good way to help with this is to make a to-do list and to prioritise what is urgent.

Stay accountable – checking in with your manager, tutor or mentor is a good way to ensure you’re accountable and productive. A good rule of thumb for this is maybe have a once-weekly catch-up to run through what you have going on for the week. This also provides the ideal opportunity to raise any concerns about your workload if it’s getting too heavy.

Take breaks – try to get away from your workspace during your lunch breaks and get outside if you can. Solid screen time for a full day isn’t good for your concentration levels so it’s good to change it up during the day.

Maintain a healthy routine – eating well, getting regular exercise and getting a good night’s sleep each night affects both your physical and mental wellbeing. Taking care of these wellbeing “basics” can give you more energy and better concentration for the day.

And what about managing burnout?

Talk to somebody you trust – “a problem shared is a problem halved” is a very overused phrase, and burnout can be a complex issue. However, talking to a friend or family member about how you feel can make you feel a little better. You won’t be a burden if you talk about it, more likely the person you talk to will be sympathetic and perhaps offer support or a fresh perspective on your situation.

Take some time off – taking advantage of holidays and paid annual leave is crucial for your mental wellbeing. A prolonged break gives you the chance to switch off and relax.

Consider going to your GP – Your GP can offer support to you through mental health services such as counselling (there will be a waiting list, though) and you may want to take the route of medication if there are long term mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, if you think that’s the right thing to do (and there’s no shame in taking medication for these conditions!).

Urgent Mental Health resources

These listening services are available, where you can talk about anything that’s troubling you. They offer confidential support from trained volunteers.

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: for a reply within 24 hours
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
  • If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
  • If someone you know is in need of urgent intervention and is a risk to themselves or others, then call 999