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Alexander 30. May 2016

Burnout – When Body and Mind Overheat


It’s often the people tackling tasks with extreme idealism and motivation who are affected by occupational burnout. Constant stress drains our resources, whether at work or at home. The helplessness that ensues makes us feel bitter and, eventually, exhausted and worthless. We are burning out.

At work, people who deal with customers or have to treat others and protect them – teachers, nurses, managers, engineers and even politicians – are most likely to suffer burnout.

While at work, interpersonal relationships, constant deadline pressure or great responsibility can create permanent stress. These jobs often lack the opportunities to rest and back off, which are so important to stay healthy.


The dangers aren’t just external. Certain character traits such as extreme ambition, perfectionism or the so-called “Helper Syndrome” also affect our personal burnout risk. If you can’t say no, you’re putting too much burden on yourself in the long run.

Stress can turn into a biochemical state of alarm when we don’t have personal strategies to cope with it. That state can drain our energy and curb our ability to replenish body and mind, causing our bodies to neglect important functions such as digestion.

Eventually, that leads to physical and mental exhaustion, and a vicious cycle begins: We’re trying to compensate for our reduced performance by working even longer hours.

Burnout usually occurs in several phases, with the above symptoms appearing with varying combinations and intensity. It all depends how we feel in the face of our pain.


Burnout has not been classified as a disease but as a problem related to life-management difficulty. While burnout is hard to diagnose because there’s no generally accepted set of symptoms, there are signs that it can be identified with.

In addition to the psychological chain of events shown above there also multiple physical symptoms that go hand in hand.


  • Exhaustion
  • Impaired sleeping
  • Weaker immune system
  • Headache and back pain
  • Elevated heart rate, hypertension
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Algesia
  • Problems to concentrate
  • Reduced creativity
  • Balance disorder
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired memory

These symptoms don’t have to be related to burnout. Physical issues, diseases or other mental illnesses can also cause them. But they’re often ignored until it’s too late. People who always feel bad about their lives and live long periods of time with the above symptoms should see a doctor or psychologist.