Preventing Burnout: Tips for Dealing with Overwhelming Stress
The health psychologist Dr. med. phil. Dagmar Siebecke is a psychologist and graduate in occupational science.
“Burnout can occur in any performance context: in the job, at work at home, in competitive sports, in voluntary work, etc. One speaks of a burnout, if in such a context, there is a permanent negative emotional state, which is accompanied by three symptoms:
- Permanent tiredness and regeneration inability (one does not manage to switch off, to “come down” and to regain strength)
- Negative feelings of work or performance context – often associated with cynicism
- The feeling of limited capacity and lack of fulfillment through work
Burnout arises in an interaction of personal factors (characteristics and attitudes) and the conditions of the achievement situation. On the personal side, the person expects a lot from himself – for example, a high degree of perfectionism or always being there for everyone or always coping with everything alone. When these high demands are made on performance conditions where the person feels they can not reach their goals again and again – usually combined with a sense of helplessness – there is a risk of burnout. If there is no balance and regeneration, complications such as depression, anxiety disorders or a variety of psychosomatic complaints can occur.
According to these developmental conditions, burnout prevention uses the following parameters: a) personal performance-related settings, b) performance conditions and c) compensation and regeneration.
Personal performance related settings
The first step of the prevention is to recognize, where one makes oneself by possibly exaggerated performance demands itself stress – thus to question: “I am absolutely sure that the stress is made straight from the outside or are it rather my own goals, which me under Put pressure? Are my goals justified and realistic, or could I take a more relaxed approach? ” It is therefore about questioning and relativizing one’s own demands on oneself (eg “Even if perfection is very important to me – here, in this task, the result is as it is.”)
Poor work or performance conditions are particularly dangerous if I see myself as a victim of these conditions. Accordingly, an important preventive approach is to seek the room for maneuver in the situation. Every little step towards improvement is right and important. In doing so, we should plan and act forward – towards the goal and the solution (as opposed to struggling with the issues and what can not be changed). Problem solving / solution finding, consistent prioritization, accepting help, saying “no”, addressing requirements, etc. are important steps that help to exert a positive influence on the performance conditions.
Balance and regeneration
But not every problem can be solved or thought nicely. There will also be contradictions between our performance goals and the performance conditions in the future. Therefore, it is important that we not only live in our world of performance, but also develop for us a regenerative counterworld in which we find balance from everyday stress. This counterworld should be a contrast to the work requirements, eg through a high degree of self-determination, spontaneity and self-affirmation.
If our world of performance consists essentially of intellectual requirements, sports activities should play an important role in this counterworld, as movement releases stress hormones and releases happy hormones. ”
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