Burnout prophylaxis

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
  • optimism
  • spirituality

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)

Stages of Burnout

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.