As different as the causes of burnout are, when it comes to helping with burnout, there are 3 steps to overcome burnout:

1. The most important: admit to yourself that you have a burnout!
2. Search for stressors and eliminate them
3. Change yourself, the environment will not do it for you.

As simple as this sounds, it involves a lot of navel-gazing and honesty with yourself. Also, of course, the help depends on which phase of burnout you are in.

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1. Admit to yourself that you have a burnout!

This is actually not only the most important, but also the most difficult phase. I’ll try to describe it from my own experience.

So there I was in the hospital, having admitted myself with a suspected heart attack whith not even 30. The doctor couldn’t find any physical problems, gave me something to calm me down and I slept for more than 2 hours at a stretch for the first time in weeks. The next morning I was sent home with the advice to talk to my family doctor and, since I didn’t have one yet, with a recommendation. Since this experience shocked me very much, I went to the aforementioned doctor. He also did a lot of tests with me, including a long-term ECG – all with the same result – I was physically healthy. But the doctor recommended two things: I should take a few days off because I seemed very stressed, and I should make an appointment with the psychologist at the group practice. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and replied that I enjoyed my job. Nevertheless, I followed his advice. I booked a wellness week and an appointment with the psychologist. During the wellness week, I was told that I had knots in my back, which could cause a twinge in my chest. With this information I called my doctor and asked him if this could be the cause. He said yes, but I should still talk to the psychologist. For me the cause was found! Yes, there was a physical reason. Since I had already made the appointment, I went to the psychologist, with the thought, I don’t need her anymore anyway, everything is cleared up now. That it wasn’t, was quickly clear in our first conversation. And I had to admit to myself that I had a burnout and had to work on myself and still have to do so today. But it couldn’t have been that, I was young, I enjoyed what I was doing and I wasn’t that far along in my career that a burnout would have been justified.

Unfortunately, there are many stories like this and not everyone is lucky enough to get to a doctor who sees what is going on. For years they work on the physical symptoms or even look for physical causes without even considering the psyche or soul. And please don’t get me wrong – it is important to clarify if there are physical causes, because even if it starts from the psyche, real physical diseases can arise from it, which also need to be treated. But if only these are treated, then something always comes back, because the cause was not treated.
Without this step there is no help, because there is no problem.

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2. Search for stressors and eliminate them

This step is also easier said than done. Especially in a society where being stressed is part of good manners. If you’re not, you’re certainly not doing a good job. Or your superiors are setting an example of a 12-hour day, and your colleagues are going along with it. Then you can only be wrong, if you don’t want that or you realize that it is too much. Or the environment simply expects you to take care of your sick parents in addition to your job and family and to have a tip-top tidy home. That’s just the way it should be. Oh yes, and dear women, you have to look great, of course, you can not just let yourself go! If it becomes too much, there can only be something wrong with you!
No – all those who notice that it is too much – listen to yourself! You are not wrong! You are also not weak, or little resilient! You are humans and not robots!
Also here I would like to tell my story first.

I was the only woman in my company who had a technical profession. I wanted to prove myself. Recognition, I identified myself through this job – because I had already failed in the other areas of my life. No husband, no children. And no, no one from the outside put pressure on me, at least not the most. It was all me. My demands on myself were higher than they could ever have been from anyone else. Where did the demands come from, of course from the urge to satisfy everyone, I had learned how to function. I carried everything on my shoulders, even the things that would have been better on other shoulders. Nobody asked me to do that either, but I imposed it on myself. After all, I wanted to be recognized, and in my eyes that was the only way.
If I had not had any help, I probably would not have seen all this. But I was also already deep into the 2nd phase in the exhaustion spiral. If there were signs earlier, yes of course, but I ignored them.

At this point I would like to go into more detail about the difference in the phases. If you are still in the 1st phase, you can still help yourself. Think about what exactly it is that makes you so exhausted or restless. Take an honest look at your life. And I don’t mean just one side of your life, but all 4 sides of the work-life balance. What are your values? What do you do with, for, your social circle? What about your finances? What is your health like? What are your beliefs? Only if you make an honest target-performance comparison, you will recognize what you can work on. You will find your stress factors and can then think about how you can eliminate them. Where you can get help.
Similar tasks are also ahead of you when you are already in phase 2 or 3. However, it will become increasingly difficult to cope with them alone. Perhaps there are already physical illnesses that have arisen. Therefore, in phase 2 and 3 you should resort to help. This can be your family doctor, a psychologist or a coach. In the last phase it may even be necessary for you to be admitted as an inpatient. Take time just for yourself.
Because just as the way down the spiral is a years-long process, the way out is also a correspondingly short or long one. But, with the necessary help, it can be done!

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3. Change yourself, the environment will not do it for you.

You have now admitted to yourself that you have burnout and have identified what your stressors and your causes are. That was already a lot of work on yourself. With this step you can experience them. And experience an improvement.

Now that I had identified what I needed to change, I went into implementation.
I was not allowed to call here for every task right away. I was allowed to learn to leave the tasks of others with you. Even today I still have the question of my psychologist in my head “Is this your task right now?”. I was also allowed to learn that I am more than just my job, my task. That everything is already right with me. And it wasn’t always easy and sometimes still isn’t. But it was and is definitely worth it! Here’s a little insight. As someone who has always torn all the tasks, To dos to himself, because I thought that I have to do so. So I’m sitting in a project meeting, a task comes up, my first impulse is- sure I’ll do it. Now I sit there and wait. Does someone else take on the task? No? Then I think about who would be the best person to do it and suggest that person. But I can’t put into words how hard this waiting was in the beginning!

To question oneself and to change is not easy. You need to be patient with yourself. There will be days when it goes better and days when it doesn’t go at all. Enjoy every little step you take!

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What others say about me

Thank you very much, for your always valuable advice and the open ear. I appreciate the exchange with you and your profound and situationally appropriate questions and impulses very much. They always give me an exciting and new perspective on the situation and help me to work on the topics strengthened and with new inspiration. Janina
Thank you for your valuable assessment Tanja 😊👍
You are such a great, cheerful person. So many more will benefit from this.