16. September. 2018

Burnout – the widespread disease #1

By definition, burnout means the loss or dwindling of strength or exhaustion caused by excessive use of one’s own energy and resources.


There are different causes. The social causes include…

… economic pressure

… Competition, status

… growing demands

… job insecurity

… growing complexity of daily life


The work-related causes include…

… Conflicts in the team

… performance-oriented pay

… quantitative/qualitative overstrain

… time pressure

… missing overview

… pressure to succeed


The personal causes include…

… stress in private life

… Perfectionism

… career-oriented life

… lack of recovery

…feeling of control

… financial bottlenecks


Caution is required in our performance-oriented and fast-moving society. We can all be burnout candidates. I have often fathomed my limits and sometimes overestimated myself. The last thing I want is to succumb to a burnout. That’s why I take myself out of my routine and start meditating before sleeping. In addition, I started painting. No matter what.

The process of sitting down and picking up a brush, mixing different colors and refining the white leaf helps me enormously to fade out the stress of the day and to concentrate on myself at this moment. It helps to stop the constant thinking and questioning in my brain. Because that robs me of energy.

I notice how I get tired of inner arguing and brooding. And yet I cannot then sleep, which ends in an endless loop. Tired and no sleep = exhaustion. Where then does the energy come from?

As a control freak I also had to learn that painting must not be a competition. The picture does not have to be perfect. I have to let go, give up control and simply paint on it. Because nothing happens – nobody stands there and evaluates me.

Further symptoms of a burnout

Chronic fatigue and mental exhaustion, distancing from work, physical complaints, psychological changes, cognitive performance limitations, changes in behavior, social withdrawal, loss of performance, concentration disorder, increased irritability, inner restlessness and even a loss of inner relations to the job.


In 1992, Freudenberger and North described the course of a burnout patient’s illness as follows:

Phase 1: Forced to prove himself

Phase 2: Increased use

Phase 3: Neglect needs

Phase 4: Displacement of conflicts

Phase 5: Reinterpretation of values

Phase 6: Denial of the problems

Phase 7: Withdrawal

Phase 8: Behavioural change

Phase 9: Depersonalization

Phase 10: inner emptiness

Phase 11: Depression

Phase 12: Complete exhaustion

All these steps often happen unconsciously and uncontrollably while you are in the middle of a vicious circle. It is very difficult to notice the change yourself or to realize that individual symptoms are actually related. It helps to take external warning signals seriously. Listen to your environment. If you notice that several people care about you and all of you are more or less sending the same message, you should see this as a sign. As a chance to tear your life apart, consciously change and get well again.