It is important to promptly recognize early burnout symptoms as warning signs and the take time to make necessary changes both on a personal level and within the work environment.
The following help you preserve good health:
- regular physical activity
- restful sleep
- a reasonable diet
- a reliable social network
- a sense of humour
- positive emotions
- a meaningful life
In addition, several short holidays seem to be more effective at preventing burnout than one longer holiday per year.
(Source: vgl. Roland von Känel, 2008, Das Burnout-Syndrom: eine medizinische Perspektive, In Praxis, Band 97, S. 477 – 487, Bern)
Herbert Freudenberger and his colleague Gail North have identified twelve stages in the course of the burnout syndrome; the sequence of which may differ from the following:
- The urge to prove something to yourself and to others
- Extreme need for overachievement in order to meet particularly high expectations
- Overwork resulting in neglect of other personal needs and social contacts
- Downplaying or covering up of inner problems and conflicts
- Doubting ones values and formerly important things such as hobbies and friends
- Denial of emerging problems, increasing intolerance and contempt towards others
- Withdrawal and avoidance of social contacts
- Obvious behavioural changes, progressive feeling of worthlessness, increasing anxiety
- Depersonalisation due to loss of contact to oneself and to others, life goes by "mechanistically"
- Inner emptiness and desperate attempts to override this feeling by going to extremes (sexuality, eating habits, alcohol and drugs)
- Depression with symptoms such as apathy, hopelessness, fatigue and lack of perspective
- First suicidal thoughts as a way out of this situation; acute risk of mental and physical collapse.