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Burnout? Stress? Look For These 12 Symptoms 

So little time! So much to do! — photo: doa

There was once a tale of a young girl who had to pick as many berries as possible until sundown or else an evil witch would harm her family. The faster the girl plucked the fruit, the quicker the witch grabbed the berries from her basket and ate them. The girl was in despair, her hands scratched bloody from the brambles and thorns. She ignored the pain and worked faster and faster…

Does this story ring a bell for you? Do you have a tendency to do everything yourself or it won’t get done? Are you overly ambitious and want everything to be perfect? Would you rather accept more work than you can handle rather than say no? If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, you may be at risk for developing burnout syndrome.

The term burnout was formulated in 1974 by the psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger. Burnout is a state of long-term physical and mental exhaustion.

Freudenberger divided the symptoms into twelve phases which are not sequential and may repeat themselves.

  1. A compulsion to prove oneself by being overly ambitious.
  2. High personal expectations and an external value system.
  3. Neglecting personal needs such as eating, sleeping and taking breaks.
  4. Ignoring the first signs of fatigue such as loss of concentration and patience, forgetfulness, headaches, back pain, digestive problems.
  5. Shifting personal values: friends,family and free time take the back seat.
  6. Denial of problems. To compensate for mistakes, the individual takes on more work. Problems with family and friends are treated with emotional bluntness.
  7. Social isolation
  8. Behavioral changes: moodiness, aggression, cynicism.
  9. Depersonalisation: Emotional detachment from oneself. Feeling like a functional robot.
  10. Inner emptiness is filled by excessive behaviors: overeating, smoking or drinking.
  11. Depression hits: self-defeating thoughts, negative outlook, hopelessness, low self-esteem, apathy.
  12. Burnout syndrome: mental and physical breakdown. The individual should seek immediate medical attention.

Our society praises hard work and frowns upon the weak. Perhaps this is one reason individuals may shy away from seeking professional counseling. Asking for help calls for having courage and accepting the problem, which are not easy to do. A psychotherapist may give you a neutral perspective and support you in finding energy to develop a healthy work/life balance.

In our tale, the young girl finally allows a prince to help her pick the berries before the sun sets. He slays the evil witch and both live happily ever after.

Burnout syndrome: mental and physical breakdown. The individual should seek immediate medical attention.
- photo: dpa



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About the author: Therese de Liz

Born and raised in New Jersey and Long Island, New York by a German mother and Portuguese father, Therese grew up in an international atmosphere. Both parents spoke limited English and preferred communicating in French. Speaking only French until pre-school, her teachers sanctioned that English must be her main language. Years later, an unexpected course of events led her family to Paris, France and later to Wiesbaden, Germany - and then she understood what it felt like to be the foreigner. Following her deceased father’s path, she studied psychology and became a psychotherapist. It is her heart’s desire to support others in understanding life and making sense of the experiences that make us who we are today. 30 years after moving to Europe, Therese has opened her own private practice in Munich-Schwabing, helping adults and children to discover their inner strength and happiness.

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