Online sessions now available.Kristian S. Nibe - clinical psychologist and ISTDP practitioner.
Burnout syndrome – when there is no energy left.
Burnout syndrome is a mental and physical state where a person over time has exposed body and mind to greater energy expenditure than he has energy capacity, so that it results in the person becoming so exhausted that all will and capability to live a balanced and meaningful life ceases to exist. Approximately 15 % of adults in Western countries claim to be burned out.
People that become burned out state that they have been under long-term, stressful, and intense pressure in their current life situation. How one interprets, relates to, and reacts to this “intense pressure” can be very difficult for the individual to see and be aware of. Since people are so embroiled in their own life situation it is difficult to know how to handle the situation in any other way that may reduce stress and give back energy and meaning.
Many with burnout syndrome rapport that they “feel trapped” in their life and have no idea how to break the negative cycle. A common denominator is a strong identification with work and career, and many lack the ability to separate between work and private life. To find a balance in life seem impossible, they often state, because they “have to” do what is expected or what the work place or their family members demand.
A character trait that is common is that “Burned-outs” try to be everything for everyone while disregarding that the day only has 24 hours and that he has limited energy capacity.
Often the burned out person is idealistic, conscientious, and feels a high degree of responsibility. The problems amount when this is either exploited by others (and the burned out doesn’t have the strength to express his will), or that the ambitions, ideals, and expectations one lays upon oneself are too unrealistic. The burned out person soon feels that there is a gap between the resources available and the resources that are expended. Over time he feels that the available resources are diminishing, while the resources being expended are increasing. This deficit continues until the point where all energy is drained from the body, and not even resting helps.
The way out of burnout syndrome.
It is not strenuous physical work in and of itself that produces burnout syndrome, but rather a stressful relational pattern with other people that can be attributed to a low ability to prioritize ones own time, express own feelings, inability to set boundaries and tell people “no!”, inability to express what one wants, and no effective strategy for how to handle demanding and manipulating people.
Burnouts often have in common that they assume that stress and exhaustion comes from external factors, such as from work, deadlines, or other people, rather than from internal psychological factors which it actually does.
A major contributing factor to stress and burnout syndrome is how one manages feelings. Stress is not transferred directly from other people, even though it might seem like that sometimes. Stress is an anxiety reaction that originates from unconscious feelings that a part of the brain has suppressed, and hence ensured that we are not aware of. To become conscious of feelings in the body reduces stress dramatically since the anxiety then no longer cover up our feelings with tension, distress, and other symptoms.
The figure below taken from Reconnect to your Core illustrates how the Triangle of Conflict contributes to burnout syndrome.
A person is physically tired when the daily expenditure of energy has surpassed the amount of energy received by sleep, food, relaxation, relationships and connection with others, and other activities that provides meaning.
The body is not a machine. It has a limited level of energy capacity, and when energy consumption exceeds energy capacity a person needs to charge his energy again. A burned out person both ignores and overestimates his own energy capacity and routinely exceeds it so that his energy over time is depleted. Also, he is not aware of the body’s need to recharge its energy when depleted. To relate to the fact that the body has limited amount of energy and that it also needs to be recharged is important. To find the balance between expenditure of energy and recharging of energy is essential in order to break the burnout cycle.
Many people believe that the day has more than 24 hours. They schedule and plan and take on responsibility without an awareness of the time and energy it takes to fulfill that responsibility, and they must therefore speed up the pace during the day in order to “get everything done”.
Many with burnout syndrome say that they don’t have time to relax. But time is a constant, and a free person in a free society has a free will to decide when and where to put his two feet. To find the balance between work, family and personal time requires making priorities that sometimes means saying “No!” to other people. Saying no and setting clear boundaries is something that triggers anxiety in a lot of people since it triggers uncomfortable feelings. Many burned out people claim that they are being manipulated or taken advantage of at work. More correct would it be to say that one lets oneself be taken advantage of by not standing up for oneself, set boundaries, saying no to others, and not consciously prioritizing ones time and responsibilities.
Another common behavioral pattern is that many burnouts describe their choices and actions in terms such as “Have to, should, and must”. “I have to work overtime.”, is a common statement, but as a free human being every decision on how to spend your time is a choice. Strictly speaking, a person chooses to work overtime. This might sound like an oversimplification of reality, but by becoming conscious of that every action is a choice you take back control over your life, and this gives tremendous energy and a sense of power and purpose. It will give you energy to formulate every action as something that you choose to do, rather than describing your life as though there is someone else that decides where you are going to put your two feet.
Contact me by sending a message through the contact form below if you want help with burned out syndrome. Through therapy, coaching and guidance you will get help to see yourself and your existence in a new perspective, and you will get advice, techniques, and insights that will help you get your energy and strength back again.
Online consultations available.
Use the contact form below for any inquiries. Please state briefly the nature of your problem, when and how you are available, and how you prefer to conduct payment (Credit Card or PayPal).
Consultations are available for either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, and are conducted by video either through Skype or appear.in. Alternatively I also offer sessions through chat/e-mail.
The price per 45 minute consultation is 160 Euro. The price for a 90 minute consultation is 300 Euro.