How to Talk about Stress & Overwork

How to Talk about Stress & Overwork

Do you feel like you don’t know whether you’re coming or going? Have you been stressed out lately? Read on to know how to talk about these things in English. The vocabulary we’re about to teach you will help you describe your situation vividly so that your listeners or readers know exactly what’s going on and how you feel. 

  • I don’t know whether I’m coming or going – I’m unable to think clearly or decide what to do because there are so many things to deal with (for more daily life English vocabulary, read our post)
  • Stressed out = stressed
Emily: I’m under a lot of pressure! My work is stressful and I really need to find a good way to de-stress. My mom says that if I don’t, I might get some stress-related illness, which is the last thing I need. I don’t want to suffer burn-out or a nervous breakdown, so I’m going to look for a new job and start practicing meditation. 
Mike: The other day my friend advised me to see a stress counsellor. But I don’t think it’s a good idea. Well, there are some stress factors, like heavy workloads and home-work imbalance. But I think I can manage the stress on my own. I just need some downtime
Christina: I’ve got some stress symptoms that really concern me. For example, I’ve started suffering from insomnia. I toss and turn at night, and I just can’t fall asleep, even though I feel tired. Perhaps, I need to learn to handle stress better, so that I can enjoy life again.
  • To be under pressure = to be under stress 
  • To de-stress – to reduce stress
  • Stress-related illness – illness caused by stress
  • Burn-out – being ill or unable to continue working because you have worked too hard (the verb is to burn out, you can also burn yourself out)
  • A nervous breakdown – a period of mental illness that results in anxiety, difficulty in sleeping and thinking clearly, a loss of confidence and hope, and a feeling of great sadness
  • A stress counsellor – someone who advises stress sufferers
  • A stress factor – something that causes stress = stressor
  • A heavy workload – a great amount of work to be done
  • Home-work imbalance – not enough time for family, personal interests, etc.
  • To manage stress = to handle stress 
  • Downtime – the time when you relax and don’t do a lot
  • A stress symptom – a sign that someone is under stress
  • To toss and turn – to turn a lot in bed, especially because you can’t sleep
I need some downtime!


Overwork is more work than is good for you, and it’s little wonder it causes a great deal of stress:

John: I know that a little stress is something that keeps you on your toes, but I run in emergency mode almost constantly. The fact is, I’ve had too much on my plate recently, and my boss won’t cut me any slack. I’m swamped, and even though I hate to leave my team in the lurch, I find it hard to cope with the problem, especially in the face of a tight deadline. I must admit I’m not a stress-hardy guy. 

  • To keep someone on their toes – to help someone stay alert and ready for anything
  • To run in emergency mode – to live/work being super stressed over sth.
  • To have too much on one’s plate – to be too busy = to be swamped
  • To cut someone some slack – to be less strict with someone (slack is the fact that a rope is loose)
  • To leave someone in the lurch – to leave someone in a difficult situation without helping them (lurch is a sudden feeling of being excited or upset)
  • Stress-hardy = stress resistant

Michelle: I’m afraid to tell my boss I’m frazzled and overworked because he might get angry and fire me instead of taking a thing or two off my plate. But the stress is taking a heavy toll on my health and rocking my sense of purpose. Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate it from our life, but when we start to crumble when work demands escalate, it’s time we should share the problem with someone, isn’t it? So, I’m going to talk to my boss and I hope he’ll be understanding. 

  • Frazzled – extremely tired, annoyed, and unable to deal with things
  • To take a toll on sb./sth. – to harm or damage someone or something, especially in a gradual way
  • To crumble – to stop resisting/trying to win or being unable to cope with sth.
  • To escalate – to become worse

Max: Some people thrive under pressure, while others find it extremely hard to stay collected under stress. How can we roll with life’s punches, always feel centered, even when snowed under? Perhaps, we should learn to take it one day at a time and persevere through challenges. We need to make sure stress doesn’t knock us off course and we take it in stride. And we need to fight our negative thoughts because stress feeds on them!

  • To thrive under pressure – to be more effective under pressure than when not stressed
  • Collected – able to control your nervous and confused feelings
  • To roll with punches – to change the way you do things so that you are not seriously affected by difficulties you experience
  • Centered – sensible, calm and confident
  • Snowed under – with too much work to deal with
  • To take it one day at a time = to take each day as it comes (read more about it in this post
  • To persevere – to continue trying to achieve something difficult
  • To take something in stride – to cope with something calmly, without interrupting one’s normal routine

On this note, let us wish you to always be cool, calm and collected in the face of any problem! Remember not to spread yourself too thin! (don’t try to do too many things at the same time – you won’t be able to give enough time or attention to any of them) 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s