Anyone who is under electricity from morning to night easily falls into the stress trap. But how can burnout be avoided? We explain which methods of prevention work and what else you should know about burnout.
Stress at work, stress at home, even stress in your free time – these days, this is almost “good form”. From students to working mothers to top managers – many people put the demands of modern life under pressure.
What is stress?
Stress stands for the natural reaction of our body to a challenge and can be explained evolutionary-biologically: In the past, it was vital for our body to be mobile in case of danger and to prepare for fight or flight (in some situations this is still true today). Pulse and blood pressure rise, all senses are sharpened, breathing becomes faster, muscles tense up. The body releases stress hormones and makes additional energy available in fractions of a second – we can react at lightning speed.
Stress is caused by internal and external stimuli and is supposed to make us perform at our best. The problem with many stressful situations today: Our body rarely has to react by fighting or fleeing – and certainly not when there is tension at work or in the family.
As a result, the psychologically charged person usually has no valve left to release the inner pressure. The body goes into a permanent state of alarm – the consequences can range up to serious organic diseases and burnout.
Positive stress is healthy
Many people dream of a life completely without stress. Finally, no appointments, having time for oneself and others, just living the day out. However, a completely stress-free life is not at all desirable under light: Positive stress (eustress) increases attention and promotes the efficiency of our body without harming it. Eustress motivates and increases productivity, for example when we solve tasks successfully. The pleasant experience of having mastered a challenge in turn increases the self-confidence to master the next task just as well.
When stress becomes negative
As is often the case, the dose is also important in stress: Stress is only evaluated negatively if it occurs too often and without physical balance. We perceive negative stress (distress) as threatening and overtaxing. We have to do a thousand things at once – and we know exactly that we will not be able to accomplish our tasks or only with a real show of strength. But at some point, every effort ends.
Chronic stress can make you ill. Once the energy reserves are exhausted, the ability to perform and concentrate decreases. Irritability, nightmares, sleeping disorders, gastrointestinal problems and high blood pressure can also be symptoms of stress. Furthermore, permanent stress weakens the immune system and can promote heart disease, lung problems and back pain.
The biggest mistake we can make: Believing that the burnout complaints will surely go away by themselves. Of course we are power women who don’t like to be held up by one or two nights of sleep. But body and soul do not protest just for fun! If we don’t take our symptoms seriously, the complaints usually only get worse – until body and mind go on strike completely and we are burnt out.
Insight is the first step to improvement. Those who can recognize that they are under constant stress and deadline pressure are also more willing to do something about it. And if it is not possible to ease the tight schedule for the next project, we should see what other adjustments we can make to prevent burnout.
It is especially important to reflect on yourself – your own attitude plays an important role in preventing burnout. Do we quickly feel overwhelmed by the mountain of work piling up in front of us? Or do all these tasks motivate us even more? How do we feel in the evening, when we have done a lot or just a little? Often it helps in burn-out prevention to keep a stress diary and thus filter out the causes of stress and exhaustion and the symptoms they manifest themselves in.