Pastors and other leaders are especially vulnerable to stress overload, as well as to burnout, because it’s difficult to set boundaries when leading a ministry or caring for people in need. Research on pastors and pastor’s wives have shown that they suffer from extreme stress, painful struggles, and often burnout.
Stress Overload is from being chronically overstressed or going through a series hardships. People suffering from stress overload are living under constant pressure that saps their energy, leaves them anxious or depressed, and can cause health problems.
Stress overload can lead to burnout, but the development of these two problems is different. You can get stress overload from work that you love, but burnout normally occurs when you dislike your work. With prolonged stress overload work that you once enjoyed may become oppressive and lead to burnout. Stress overload is more like anxiety and burnout is more like depression.
Stress Overload Inventory
Are you overloaded with stress? In danger of burnout? Take this short Stress Overload Inventory to see if you may need help dealing with the effects of stress on your body and soul. Circle the questions you answer yes to and then count the total.
1. Have you experienced lots of change in recent months (e.g., job, housing, relationship status)?
2. Have you experienced a major loss (e.g., death of a loved one, divorce, financial loss)?
3. Do you have skin irritations, an ulcer, recurring headaches, or a racing heart?
4. Do you feel that you’ve failed in an important endeavor in your work or a relationship?
5. Are you in a hurry most of the time?
6. Do you use adrenaline or caffeine to sleep less and get more done?
7. Do you expect perfection from yourself? Or from others?
8. Do you have unrealistic expectations for how things will go in situations?
9. Are you self-critical?
10. Do you have a short temper? Or do you get easily frustrated? Or are you having emotional outbursts?
11. Do people tell you that you take things too seriously?
12. Do you try to be strong and not have needs or emotions?
13. Are you anxious most of the time?
14. Are you having difficulty concentrating?
15. Are you having difficulty sleeping or getting enough rest?
16. Have you been pessimistic lately?
Scoring: four or more yes answers suggests you may be experiencing stress overload. For diagnoses and treatment consult in person with a doctor or psychotherapist.