May 30, 2019 | Reagan

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You may have seen in the news recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially added "Burnout" to its International Classification of Diseases. As the first significant health organization to legitimize the term, the WHO defines burnout as:

"a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
3) reduced professional efficacy
Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life."

Stress spelled out in scrabble tiles by forthwithlife
Image by Forth With Life, used on a CC license.

Of course, there are many different ways to cope with workplace stress and everyone's perspective on stress and effective stress management techniques is different. Since it's difficult to address what causes workplace stress given how varied our jobs are, I will instead share a few personal stress-management favourites that I implement into my everyday work life: 

  • Taking a break by going outside for a walk 
  • Using my cell at meal breaks to unwind (thank you Netflix app!)
  • Listening to music when working on a project
  • Staying hydrated throughout the day
  • Taking breaks throughout the day to stretch
  • Brushing my teeth and flossing after a meal (aka taking some healthy "me time")
  • Exercising before work so I arrive motivated and energized
Coffee on a desk
Image by Volker Kannacher, used on a CC license.

The library has some amazing resources to help you unwind and de-stress including wonderful programming, cool apps and free Museum + Arts passes to cultural sites across this great city! If you're looking for print and eResources about workplace stress and stress-management, I've pulled some real winners for you to browse below:


Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski

"This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men--and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life."

Is work killing you

Is Work Killing You? A Doctor's Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress by David Posen

"Dr. David Posen, a popular speaker and a leading expert on stress mastery, identifies the three biggest problems that contribute to burnout and low productivity: Volume, Velocity, and Abuse. He shares revealing anecdotes and offers clear descriptions of the biology of stress to illustrate how downsizing, economic uncertainty, and technology have made the workplace more toxic than ever. Most importantly, he offers practical advice and easy techniques for managing the harmful symptoms and side effects of stress."

My desk is driving me crazy

My Desk is Driving Me Crazy: End Overwhelm, Do Less, and Accomplish More by Sue Rasmuseen

"As an entrepreneur, you’re smart, confident, good at what you do, and you help your clients get amazing results. But you also know that being busy, stressed, and overwhelmed is holding you back from the success and the difference you really want to make. This book will help you: Work fewer hours, yet accomplish much more; Let go of things that waste your time and drain your energy; Make decisions that are right for you and your business; Eliminate “fear of missing out” and “shiny object syndrome” for good; Focus on the actions that bring you the best results – and let go of the rest."

The little book of stress relief

"Intense stress is an integral part of modern life, and it seems to be getting worse. In controlled doses, stress helps individuals think faster and perform better - but left unchecked and unbalanced, it leads to fatigue, helplessness and a variety of unfortunate health complications. With people working harder, anxious about job loss and the ever-faster pace of life, and the ever-growing intrusion of technology, stress seems to be increasing constantly. The Little Book of Stress Relief is a practical, breezy and entertaining book that changes the fundamental thinking and habitual lifestyle choices that contribute to heightened stress levels."

The stress-proof brain

The Stress Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness & Neuroplasticity by Melanie Greenberg

"Modern times are stressful--and it's killing us. Unfortunately, we can't avoid the things that stress us out, but we can change how we respond to them. In this breakthrough book, a clinical psychologist and neuroscience expert offers an original approach to help readers harness the power of positive emotions and overcome stress for good."

Stress proof

Stress Proof: The Scientific Solution to Protect Your Brain and Body-and Be More Resilient Every Day by Mithu Storoni

"This practical and groundbreaking guide reveals seven paths to fighting the effects of stress--to strengthen our natural defenses so that our minds remain sharp, and our bodies resilient, no matter what life throws at us. Each chapter examines a common stress agent--including inflammation, an out-of-sync body clock, cortisol levels, and emotional triggers--and presents simple ways to minimize its harmful effects with changes in diet, exercise, and other daily habits--including surprising hacks involving music, eye movements, body temperature, and more."

The real happy pill

The Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain by Moving Your Body by Anders Hansen

"Is there a foolproof way to reduce stress and anxiety while you boost your memory? Raise your IQ even as you slow down the aging process? Become more creative and train your ability to focus at the same time? The answer is simple: Move! Modern neuroscience and research has shown, more than ever, that physical exercise has extraordinary effects on our cognition."

50 more ways to soothe yourself without food

50 More Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers

"In Fifty More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, you'll find fifty more mindful and healthy activities to help you replace your need to overeat. Based in popular mindfulness practices, this book will show you how to slow down and be present during mealtime so that you end up making healthier choices. In addition, the activities in the book-such as yoga, aromatherapy, and breathing exercises-will help you gain a greater overall sense of well-being and appreciation for your body. If you're ready to stop using food as an emotional crutch, and start feeling healthy, happy, and truly fulfilled, this book offers fifty more ways!"

The Finnish way

The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Panizar

"A practical guided tour of the simple and nature-inspired ways that Finns stay happy and healthy--including the powerful concept of sisu, or everyday courage."

Related Reading

Two-thirds of Canadians stressed by work from Weyburn Review (April 2016)
A short article including statistics on workplace stress experienced by Canadians. Ontarians reported the highest levels of workplace stress in the survey discussed.

The Best Time of Day to Take a Break from Work by Megan Elliott from Showbiz Cheatsheet.com (January 2016)
Advice on the best time to take breaks to avoid burnout.


Stay healthy friends (and don't stress about the Raptors!)