Stress, everyone has to deal with it sometimes. Stress puts your body in a state of readiness. It is the tension you feel before an exam, a performance, a job interview or an exciting event. Stress ensures that you can respond with extra alertness or you can work concentrated on a difficult job. As soon as the job is done, or the event is over, the tension automatically disappears. This tension is part of life and is healthy.
Difference between stress, overstrained and burnout
When does stress become overstrain? That boundary line cannot be drawn accurately. The difference between healthy stress and overstrain lies in the fact that overstrain is a long-term phase of stress. When working under high pressure for a long period of time and the level of stress caused by the work remains high, a loss of order and overview can be the result. You become constantly restless and get stressed out. There is an unhealthy pressure on the mind with a long-term character.
The difference between overstrain (overwork) and burnout is characterized by the fact that overstrain is reversible. This means that if the cause of the tension is removed, you can function normally again. That is not the case with a burnout. With a burnout, the energy level is affected and lowered as a reaction to the long-term, usually long years of tensions. Sometimes the relationship between work and symptoms even can no longer be made. Body and mind feel burned out or ‘broken’.
In short, it is pleasant to work under light stress, you end up in the danger zone when you are overstrained, and with a burnout your body says ‘it’s over now’. You cannot handle it any longer.
Symptoms of a burnout
A burnout does not occur suddenly, but gradually. There are often signals at an early stage. You are tired before and after work, you do not feel like going to work, you are forgetful, irritable and you have difficulty concentrating.
Often your environment has already noticed that you are only busy with your work. These signals are often ignored until they have to be stopped, because it really does not work anymore. That is the moment that you are actually exhausted and then we speak of a burnout.
The emotional and physical exhaustion gives an ‘empty’ feeling. Involvement in work and colleagues is decreasing, detachment and cynicism are increasing and the feeling of being unable to function leads to a negative self-image.
The most common symptoms during a burnout are:
- physical exhaustion, unable to recharge,
- concentration and memory problems,
- feelings of incompetence and cynicism,
- feeling of failure,
- sleep problems,
- worrying a lot,
- being tense and getting nowhere,
- headache, stomach pain or muscle pain.
Causes of a burnout
A burnout has not just one cause, but is usually the result of a combination of factors. Long-term hard work in combination with too little rest and relaxation is an important risk factor. In addition, characteristics such as dutifulness and perfectionism are of influence. A radical event in the private situation can also play a role, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one.
If the cause of the burned out feeling is removed, you are not immediately recovered from a burnout. It may take months before a new balance is found.
Treatment of burnout
If you continue to ignore the signs and symptoms of stress and strain, your body and mind will become out of balance and you risk a burnout: your body is exhausted and your energy is gone. Body and mind feel burned out. Restoring balance requires peace and reflection to make the necessary choices. It often means that things have to change.
At first we work on restoring your energy balance. We restore your energetic feeling, we work on how you can relax well and in a focused way, how you spread your energy during a day or how you should deal with conflicts. You learn to indicate your limits better, to say no, or to say it like it is without hurting others.
Therapy also explores which factors contributed to the development of your burnout and an inventory of the risk factors is made. These are addressed where possible. Treatment means that you are willing to examine your behavior and change where necessary.
Please read our Burnout treatment page if you would like to know how we can help you with your burnout.
Contact Psychologen Amsterdam
Do you recognize your symptoms and do you need help or do you just have a question about the treatment of your burnout? Then call for an appointment or send a message to practice Psychologen Amsterdam.