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You shouldn’t underestimate the positive power of having a degree of stress in your life. Identifying the tipping point, where stress turns to burnout, is the key.

While bouts of workplace stress can help you better focus on tasks and increase efficiency, chronic stress can impact the quality of your work, jeopardising your employment, and your life outside of the office.

It’s difficult to tell when the stress hits a breaking point, and you start suffering the effects of burnout. While stress is emotional or mental strain that can come and go, burnout is the physical, mental emotional exhaustion that occurs after prolonged stress. It emerges over time and can be more difficult to recover from.

“It’s not always made explicit, but in reality there are consequences that people face when they appear not to deal with their stress in the workplace,” says Stefano Petti, a partner at Asterys, an organiational development firm in Rome.

Figuring out when stress goes from positive to negative is tricky. Chronic stress almost always means you’ll reach a tipping point, says Petti, which can harm your career.

That’s the opposite of stress that comes up only during the most nerve-wracking projects or busier times of the year, which eventually subsides without negative influences, explains Petti. It’s the long-term stress that will ultimately affect both your physical and mental wellbeing, with reactions that include heart palpitations, stomach problems and having trouble making decisions, he adds.

– Alina Dizik

Read more: The strange psychology of stress and burnout