When your body and mind are in a state of perpetual exhaustion
Many people think that Burnout is a fashionable complaint, but it is rather a widespread disease caused by situational pressure, too much responsibility, anxiety and enormous burdens in private and professional life. Have stress-inducing strains become a constant companion for you? Do you suffer from constant time and performance pressure? Does your life threaten to become chronically stressful, or do you often feel overwhelmed? Then you should pay close attention to yourself, listen to your body and mind, and seek medical advice if necessary to rebalance your condition. Burnout does not come overnight, it is a creeping process that can reach a depressive state with significant health consequences.
In the following, you’ll learn what burnout is, the causes, what the disease can look like, and what you can do to protect yourself and your body from a permanent state of fatigue.
Burnout does not come overnight, it is a creeping process that can reach a depressive state with significant health consequences.
Burnout: What exactly is that?
You do not just „feel“ tired and exhausted, you actually are. Your body is tired, your mind is empty, your emotions are negative. Tired, discouraged, sad, helpless – just completely empty. Burned out. That’s the burnout syndrome.
Burnout patients have a feeling of emotional exhaustion. They no longer feel up to the demands of everyday life. In the course of the disease they take a different attitude to their environment. They experience a permanent tension and undergo a change of nature, especially at work. Colleagues become objects, the meaning of the tasks is lost. The burnout patient becomes steadily more desperate and no longer feels able to take responsibility. However, constant long-term burdens in private life, such as the care of a family member, can cause burnout.
In the book „Great Dictionary Psychology“ (Compact, 2007) the burnout syndrome is defined as: “ Emotional, mental and physical exhaustion after a previous process of high workload, stress and/or self-exertion.“
The Causes of stress
- Stress sensors
(pressure to perform, excessive demands, private problems, social conflicts)
- Permanent stress reaction
(Body on alert, increased cardiovascular activity, hormonal excess, mental tension)
- Personal stress behavior
(Impatience, perfectionism, ambition)
First you’re committed and full of energy. Permanent stress and the unsatisfactory results of your actions, increasingly burden you. Slowly you lose the sense of your work, doubt your performance and get into the cycle of permanent overload. The state of exhaustion makes you even more tired. Your behaviour is distant, cold and cynical. You feel worse and worse, empty and exhausted. In adversity your body and mind start to shut down.
After you have suffered under the stress syndrome for some time (6 months to years), the peak of the nervous breakdown comes, often accompanied by insomnia and depression. Many people now not only suffer from powerlessness and lack of will, but also struggle with suicidal thoughts.
Burnout – a creeping disease until the breakdown
Unfortunately, many people only realize shortly before or at the peak that something is wrong with them. If you know how the creeping burnout process is developing, you can act early, identify causes, and initiate preventative measures.
The Beginning: Determination becomes the center of life
You are committed and enthusiastic. This can be a job or a private challenge. You put all the time and energy into this one thing. You set high demands on yourself and do not pass on any of your tasks to the people around you. Your demands on yourself continue to rise. There is only one goal for you: solve this task to your satisfaction.
Result: You push other needs aside. Sleep, sport, fun, relaxation. All of those you repress. Often the consumption of stimulants, such as coffee and alcohol, is increasing. Smokers smoke more. You also neglect your body. Illnesses are pushed aside. You work longer and harder. Conflicts you repress. Unfortunately, due to the continuous load, you will now also be less efficient. You make more mistakes and are more forgetful.
The focus: Value and behavior change
To achieve your goals, you do everything. Old principles and regularities, like weekly sports units, or interpersonal relationships are becoming more and more meaningless to you. Until they finally pose a burden for you.
Result: You continue to run in circles. The fight alone makes you feel unrecognized. Now you are allowing physical and mental discomfort. But you see the guilt in the intolerant behavior of your fellow human beings. You are a threat to yourself. You do not accept help, attention or criticism. You begin to feel disoriented and alone. You are withdrawing more and more.
The end: The empty state of exhaustion
Your behavioral change is increasingly slipping away until you no longer know yourself. You no longer know who you are, what you do and how you feel. Your condition is helpless and empty. Maybe your addictive behavior will increase again.
Result: You are depressed. Feeling empty, and desperate, maybe even suicidal thoughts come along now. You are exhausted, suffer emotionally from constant stress. Your body reacts to cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal problems. It comes to a nervous breakdown.
The many causes of Burnout
Burnout can have a lot of triggers
Stress is not always negative for the body. In short term, stress can even lead to increased performance. This is because the body responds to stress stimuli with increased cardiovascular activity, faster breathing and increased muscle tension. You are more attentive, more motivated, more active and more efficient, through increased adrenaline output. If the stress stimulus decreases, your body returns to normal. If it comes to permanent stress stimuli, your body cannot come to rest. You fall into a chronic state of stress. Importantly: Stress is subjective. One situation a person could perceive as stressful, the other could remain completely relaxed.
Burnout triggers can be:
– Permanently feeling stress
– High workload
– Relationship problems
– Too many tasks, too few recovery phases
– Unbalanced work-life
– Exaggerated sense of responsibility
– Low-stress load limit
Recognize burnout symptoms
The emergence of burnout can have a variety of triggers. In the course of the disease, different symptoms can occur, which indicate a burnout. Mental and physical usually show an accumulation of signs, such as:
Psychological and mental characteristics:
– Lack of interest
– Lack of drive
– Dissatisfaction, despondency
– Feeling of inner emptiness
– Feeling of senselessness, Feeling of helplessness
– Loss of self-confidence
– Anxiety and / or panic attacks
– Negative thoughts, pondering
– Concentration disorders
– Loss of intellectual creativity
– Frequent irritability, impulsiveness, aggressiveness
– Stomach pain
– Back aches
– Lack of energy
– Muscle tensions
– Balance disorders
– Erection problems
– Heart problems / feeling of excitement / heart palpitations
It is important to recognize, interpret and counteract, the signs before it is too late. If you are not sure what causes your symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor. Burnout is a serious illness. The early recognition and treatment of other diseases is just as important and can help you early. Getting a check-up by your doctor is always the first and the right choice!
Stop it before it gets to late
-Prevent burnout –
You cannot always avoid stress, but a balanced life between work, family and recreation is already a good foundation for prevention. It is important that you recognize stress and eliminate the corresponding sources of stress in your life. After stressful phases, you should make regenerative timeouts. Time management is also an important factor. You should have the ability to say „NO“ to additional tasks or even more overtime. Check also whether your attitude to work is to a healthy extent or whether you are prone to being a workaholic.
What about exercise, sleep and nutrition? All factors that affect your well-being and your sense of stress.
Equally important: social relationships. Interpersonal contacts, the exchange of interests, the sharing of experiences. All this is important for a healthy psyche.
Once the vicious cycle of perpetual fatigue is closed, you usually cannot break it alone. You will need professional help with medical and psychological care. If you suffer from burnout, you have to change your entire life in order to get well again. Short term breaks are no longer sufficient.
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