HUB: Stress & Burnout

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Stress can be described as the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It’s very common, can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life.

Stress is not a mental health condition, but high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time can lead to someone suffering with poor mental health or mental ill health.

You can find out more about how to understand Stress via the NHS website.


The stress and performance curve highlights the relationship between pressure and performance. The theory suggest that performance increases with physiological or mental stimulation, but only up to a point. When levels of stimulation become too high, performance decreases. This can be illustrated as a bell-shaped curve which increases and then decreases with higher levels of stimulation.


The stress vulnerability model was created by Zubin and Spring, 1977. The theory suggests a direct relationship between vulnerability (of biological, psychological and/or social origin) and the level of stress experienced. It suggests that our capacity for coping with stress is reduced by underlying vulnerability, and that anyone can become unwell if their level of stress exceeds their capacity for managing it.

The model suggests that people with high levels of vulnerability are more likely to develop mental ill health when high stress levels are present. People with low vulnerability need to experience a great deal of stress before they become distressed whereby people with high vulnerability need only a small amount of stress before they move into mental ill health.


Understanding what causes us stress and taking action to manage our stress levels is a key part of looking after our wellbeing.

The Stress Container can help us understand how we experience stress and how to address our stress levels.

Use this interactive tool to explore it.

Watch this video for a great explainer of what’s in your stress container.

VIDEO: The Stress Container
Video Length: 3 mins 21
Source: YouTube



Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. While not considered a mental illness, burnout can be considered a mental health issue.

If you think you, or a friend, family member or colleague may be suffering from Burnout, this simple Mind Tools self-test may be useful.
VIDEO: 5 Steps to Avoid Burnout
Video Length: 1 min 52
Source: YouTube