What is burnout?
When you are suffering from a burnout, you are literally burnt out. It is a reaction of exhaustion after a period of mainly work related stress, which can be felt on a mental, physical and emotional level.
Someone with a burnout isn’t even capable anymore of executing the simplest tasks without being totally exhausted.
Causes of burnout
Burnout is being caused by a long term exposure to too much stress. In daily life, we notice that this stress manifests itself both at a professional and a personal level.
Disturbed energy balance
People are suffering from a negative energy balance, as more energy is going out (obligations, problem solving) and less energy is coming in from things that bring them pleasure.
Personality traits such as exaggerated dutifulness, perfectionism and workaholism are important risk factors. The risk of getting a burnout is also higher for sensitive personalities (the ‘nice person’ syndrome) with a high sense of responsibility.
The most common burnout definition includes three components:
- exhaustion/extreme fatigue
- cynicism: alienation of the job and others
- feelings of decreased personal competence
With a burnout, we notice symptoms manifest themselves both on a physical and a psychological level. Common symptoms on the physical level include continuing fatigue, insomnia, stomach and bowel complaints, heart palpitations and dizziness.
On the psychological level, we often notice people can’t relax anymore, are getting more irritated, tend to weep and worry more, forget more and suffer from anxiety. People with a burnout often also avoid social contact.