Chronic Stress & Burnout
With advances in neuroscience and our understanding of the body's stress response, there are now more sustainable means of addressing stress and burnout to help you get back on track, faster and more sustainably.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ rather than a medical condition (source). However, if left untreated, long periods of stress and burnout can lead to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Scientists estimate that $1 trillion is lost in productivity each year due to the prevalence of anxiety and depression alone. In this survey by Mental Health America, 75% of workers said they had experienced burnout at some stage in their working career. 40% said they experienced burnout specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most people, recognising the signs of stress and burnout is the first step towards seeking support. Depending on the seriousness and longevity of your symptoms, trained health coaches or mental health professionals can help. Managing stress and burnout often means addressing lifestyle factors. Getting guidance on dealing with interpersonal relationships and setting boundaries in the workplace are among the key factors. Early and personalised intervention helps you control symptoms of stress and burnout, whilst receiving valuable guidance on maintaining a healthy body and mind in the long term.
What is Stress & Burnout and who is affected
Burnout is not acknowledged as a diagnostic category under the current classification system for mental disorders. This makes it difficult to define exactly what burnout is.
An inability to “switch off” at the end of a day, even during leisure time, is a sign of burnout. Others include working a lot of overtime, finding yourself unable to say no to requests, having extremely high expectations of your work, and putting your own needs aside. As a result, someone suffering from burnout increasingly comes up against their stress limits and reaches a state of permanent subjective overload.
On an emotional and cognitive level, fears of failure, fears of losing your job, and overly self-conscious thinking can develop over time. The persistent internal stress level can also lead to initial physical complaints such as muscle tension, digestive problems, and nausea. Other potential consequences include weight fluctuations, sleep disorders, and increased susceptibility to infection. Over time, physical, emotional, and cognitive resources become depleted until you can no longer perform. The end of this process often results in a temporary inability to work. In some cases, burnout can lead to depression.
Stress and burnout are often associated with late adolescence when they are attributed to high school or university studies, but they can occur throughout your working life. Several studies into gender differences find women are more likely to experience burnout than men.
Symptoms of Stress & Burnout
Treatments for Stress and Burnout
Since burnout is currently considered a syndrome of various symptoms rather than a specific diagnosis, there is no uniform treatment. We do know that burnout symptoms are generally caused by ongoing occupational or extra-occupational overstraining.
Treating stress and burnout starts with assessing the severity of these symptoms professionally, particularly when you are starting to be unable to perform and are experiencing persistent symptoms of stress. It’s crucial to find out whether any other physical or mental illness is causing your symptoms.
If your burnout is not due to impending occupational pressures, short-term psychotherapy can help you react more appropriately to the current stress factors. You will learn strategies for stress reduction and how to apply them effectively in the work context. You will also get better at distinguishing yourself from external requirements and taking your own needs more seriously.
Functional Medicine for Stress & Burnout
Functional medicine is patient-centred and takes a more holistic approach to treatment. The goal is to find the underlying cause of a disease rather than just addressing the symptoms you are telling us about. The focus is on establishing long-term health and preventing illnesses.
At neurocare, we access quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) brain mapping techniques to look at your brain activity. The findings can often explain some of the symptoms you are experiencing.
We also consider sleep factors and use wearable Actigraphy technology to track your daily sleep and wake routines to see if this may be having an impact.
Health Coaching for Lifestyle Factors
Our health coaches at neurocare may be your ideal partner when it comes to maintaining good mental and physical health. They can assist with diet, sleep, exercise, and other external or lifestyle factors which may contribute to negative symptoms. Our coaches work closely with neurocare neuroscientists and mental health experts to draw on a wide variety of assessment tools and methods as needed.
Neurofeedback for Sleep
The stress and burnout symptoms you are experiencing may be caused or exacerbated by a lack of sleep, a poor sleep routine, or general anxiety due to work and performance pressures. The result is an overactive brain state. Our comprehensive assessment at neurocare clinics will clarify if that is what you are suffering from. If yes, we use a technique named Neurofeedback, an evidence-based brain training technique, to help retrain your brain. You will be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Following a comprehensive assessment and a scientifically backed programme conducted at one of our neurocare clinics, clients have experienced improved sleep and all of its positive effects in the space of 6 - 12 weeks.
Assessment & Treatment Approach for Stress & Burnout
We offer a personalised approach for clients experiencing stress and burnout, including the following steps:
- An in-depth one-on-one consultation with our expert team during your first appointment
- Sleep monitoring - a 7-day Actigraphy sleep assessment helps to see if your sleep hygiene may be causing some of your symptoms
- Brain mapping & cognitive assessment - a one-off assessment that allows us to take a closer look at your underlying brain activity via a quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG). Plus, you will complete a full psychometric test. We offer further personalised assessments as required
Based on these insights, we recommended an individualised therapy programme targeting the symptoms of stress and burnout by getting to the underlying cause. This may be assisted by our health coaching or psychology team.
Frequently Asked Questions about treating Stress and Burnout
After a stressful event, it’s normal to react with negative physical symptoms. However, some people experiencing stress and burnout may find it hard to ask for help or confront their symptoms. If you don’t need psychological support or counselling, your physiological responses can be helped by seeking support from a trained health coach. Unlike a psychologist or a specialist mental health professional, a health coach takes you back to the basics your body needs to be healthy and live a sustainable lifestyle. This sounds simple, but clients have benefited hugely from the one-on-one support of a health coach. A health coach will hold you accountable for your day-to-day routine. If you need more specialist support, your coach can always recommend further psychological support.
It’s worth considering psychological counseling for stress and burnout when you feel that your symptoms are becoming overwhelming. This happens when a stressful situation becomes near-permanent, for example. Ask yourself if you are forcing yourself to go to work in the morning and lack the energy you previously had? Disturbed sleeping habits can be another indicator of burnout. If you are starting to feel like you can no longer perform your role or you are losing your sense of identity, it’s time to consider professional help.
Cognitive brain training exercises have the power to balance your mood and increase general positivity and overall outlook. Neurofeedback is one brain training technique that can help improve sleep.