Coaching Vitality and burn-out: prevention and recovery


  • Do you work-out less and are you eating unhealthy?
  • Don't you recharge your batteries during the weekend?
  • Do you live by your agenda?
  • Do you "have-to" do everything according to yourself?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping or do you have physical complaints?
  • Do you want to feel energetic and balanced again?

Mental burn-out symptoms:

  • Loss of focus
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fear- and anxiety complaints
  • Memory issues
  • Feelings of panic
  • Easily agitated/annoyed
  • Tendency to excess and addiction
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Feeling hurried or tense
  • Melancholy
  • Distrust
  • Not up for anything, not even exciting things
  • Feelings of insecurity

Physical burn-out symptoms

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of exhaustion
  • Sore muscles
  • Neck- and shoulder pains.
  • Tension in the stomach area
  • Washed-out voice
  • High breathing/hyperventilation
  • Obliviousness
  • No or little sex drive
  • Easily tired or sick
  • Intestinal problems
  • High heartrate
  • High blood pressure

What is a burn-out?

Burn-out is not a 'decease for the mentally unfit', as is often thought, but a behavioural, mentally and mostly physical problem.

Your body makes extra stress hormones with every action you undertake. In prehistoric times these stress hormones made you capable to fight or flight swiftly in case of imminent danger. Your reactive power is bigger with more stress hormones, so your body can endure more and your brains can process better. Very useful processes when your life is in danger. After the danger had subsided, peace returned. Time to recuperate and unwind, so the body would be ready for the next threat ('From big-bang to burn-out', Witte Hoogendijk & Wilma de Rek).

The world is a lot more complex nowadays. Our stress-system, mostly shaped when there was no life on land yet, is constantly overwhelmed by a huge increase in stress-agents: situations and experiences which cause stress. Where in the past we experienced stress due to physical dangers like feral animals, we nowadays experience stress due to having to perform, the urge to have an ideal family and a great career, reach deadlines, the urge to prove ourselves, be beautiful, culturally grounded and developed. Even when we're not working we experience stress, which causes us to deprive ourselves of rest. We over-exploit our bodies and get exhausted, overwhelmed and develop complaints (tension-complaints like back-aches, head-aches, insomnia, hyperventilation etc.). If we don't give ourselves time to recuperate, our stress-mechanisms remain active, even when unnecessary like when we try to sleep. Due to lack of recovery and recreation and because of exhaustion you may experience feelings of gloom or depression, lose tenability and be unable to focus or lose sight of the overall picture. This is what we call overstrained, or stressed. If this is untreated and goes on for too long, you reach a state of burn-out. A burn-out therefore is not the same as work-stress.  There is nothing wrong with hard work, as long as you take enough time to recharge.

A burn-out originates in a prolonged disruption of balance between exertion and recreation.

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