What are the causes for burn-out?

One thing is clear here and that is that a burn-out does not develop overnight, but over a long period of time, sometimes even years. Otherwise, there are a lot of possible factors that promote a burn-out.

If one follows the opinion of the WHO, burn-out only develops at the workplace, through the external stress there. But there are also other factors that play a big role here. And often it is not only an external stress factor, but it is intensified by internal factors.

What can be causes for burn-out?


There are basically three burnout reasons. The first is constant time pressure. Let’s recall the numbers from Mind Matters Inc. again here. In a 2017 study, more than 75% of respondents in Europe reported working mostly under time pressure and at high speed. The second factor in the workplace is a lack of room to maneuver. Here, the main issue is whether you can contribute your thoughts and thus identify better. In the above-mentioned study, 35% of respondents stated that their work speed is defined by their supervisor. The third major factor is a lack of leadership. There are of course more factors, such as denying one’s own feelings at work, multitasking or mobbing. But also, a permanent underchallenge favors a burn-out.

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Of course, there are also many causes for burn-out in private life, but I would like to take a closer look at three of them. Long-lasting conflicts within the family or in the social environment can aid a burn-out. Because this environment otherwise provides a balance and support, which is lost in conflicts. But a financial squeeze can also be stressful, especially if it lasts for a long period of time. Likewise, we are talking about a private burden when caring for a sick relative. In this case, it is often the case that one’s own needs must take a back seat for months or years.


Now we come to our own person. Which behavioral patterns or thoughts do we ourselves have that are burnout reasons? Here, too, I would like to name three examples. I would like to start with the factor that has played a big role in my own life, too high demands on myself. You expect more from yourself than anyone else ever would and also than you would expect from others. The second factor I would like to address here is the difficulty of setting yourself apart. For example, what are your tasks and which ones can be done by someone else, maybe even better. Saying “no” is also particularly difficult here. The last factor I would like to describe here is the lack of relaxation. It’s absolutely okay to push yourself to the limit every now and then, as long as you allow yourself relaxing periods. However, if these rest periods fall away, body and mind are constantly on alert, and no one can manage that over a long period of time.

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A tight labor market can be a factor here. For example, if one is looking for a job. But it can also be that it forces you to stay in a work environment where you don’t feel comfortable. Another social factor can be a high pressure to perform. In certain regions, for example, you may not be a person until you own your own home or playfully manage your professional life, club, and family. This also brings us to the third factor, unrealistic role models. This can be a woman who would very much like to work, but her upbringing and society demands that she, in addition to a successful career, also manages children and household without help. But it can also be a man who has learned to always be strong and to provide for the family financially. If he now loses his job or does not get a promotion, this favors a burn-out, because the self-esteem of this man sinks.

As you can see, there are many factors. Most of the time not only one factor triggers a burn-out, but a combination of several.

For example, it may not be bad for a person to always work under time pressure, but if there is a constant conflict at home and it is difficult for the person to say “no” in private, then this can have an impact. Just think of every possible combination of the different factors.

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