Difference between Stress and Burnout
By Theydiffer - June 27, 2015

Stress or burnout can occur in any aspect of life. Most often it is connected to the corporate or working world. However, homemakers can also experience stress and burnout. The two are not quite the same thing, but they are very closely related.


Stress is the tension one feels in dealing with the pressures and demands of life. It is usually described as mental or emotional strain. There are three main types of stress. Survival stress is when you have a fight or flight attitude and feel in danger. Internal stress is caused by having worries and emotional stressors. Environmental stress is felt if you have problems with excessive noise or crowds. The most common way the word stress is used is to define being overworked.

Burnout is the result of continued stress. It can show itself as exhaustion, feeling alienated from activities, and reduced performance. People under extreme stress may experience a total burnout where they are unable to cope with their job or the other stressors in their life.

Comparison Chart

Physical damageEmotional damage
Loss of motivation and hopeLoss of physical energy
Leads to depressionLeads to anxiety
Increases engagementDecreases engagement
Overactive emotionsBlunted emotions

Stress vs Burnout

What is the difference between stress and burnout? It depends on how you view the terms. Excessive stress is typically the cause of burnout, making them closely related but different things. Being stressed and having burnout are definitely different. Let’s compare them by symptoms and onset.

  • Stress is brought on by over engagement, while burnout is characterized by under engagement.
  • When you are stressed your emotions are overactive, but when you are burned out they are blunt.
  • Stress creates hyperactivity, but burnout leaves the individual feeling helpless and hopeless.
  • Burnout is a loss of motivation and ideals, but stress comes with a loss of physical energy.
  • Burnout typically leads to depression while stress is more likely to lead to anxiety disorders.
  • Stress causes physical damage and burnout causes emotional damage.
  • Stress can cause physical damage that can kill you prematurely, while burnout makes life seem not worth living.