A burn-out is a prolonged state of exhaustion, of feeling detached from your job and doubts about your abilities. In short: you just want to go to bed, you drag yourself to work every day and you do not feel good at what you do.
What you can do about it
Burn-out and being overworked are mental conditions from which you can recover naturally. The most important thing you can do is to take your boundaries at each stage of the recovery process seriously, and to do what you can within these boundaries. A coach or therapist can help you strike this precarious balance.
The recovery process
Once you are on your way to recovery, mindfulness can be a powerful resource to support the recovery process:
- mindfulness empowers you to break a deeply ingrained worrying habit
- mindfulness makes you aware of potentially disrupting patterns
- mindfulness better enables you to mark your boundaries
- mindfulness has you tune in to your sources of energy and well-being
- mindfulness lets you feed yourself with rest and silence
Mindfulness training can also be a powerful support in preventing burn-out relapse. Mindfulness teaches you to identify the needs and boundaries of your body-mind system at an earlier stage. Seeing as the key is to find balance in life, mindfulness also teaches you to be more aware of enjoyment opportunities.
End of the world?
A burn-out is not the end of the world (although it can set you back considerably in your abilities). A burn-out is a serious wake-up call. It is a confrontation with your personal boundaries and deeper values. It makes you face the facts: what price are you willing to pay for your job? What is important in your life? Again, mindfulness can help you answer these questions. For many people, the setback of a burn-out also has kind of cathartic effect.
Depression is a condition where you suffer a combination of the following symptoms for a prolonged period of time: feeling down, lack of interest, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, along with issues such as sleep problems, reduced appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Depression is a fairly common condition. Do you recognise the symptoms? You are not alone. Nineteen percent of people in the Netherlands suffer from depression. In 2012, 1 million people were on antidepressants. In 2012, total spending on antidepressants reached 94 million euros. Globally, depression is the second most common disease (after cardiovascular disease) among 15 to 44-year-olds, according to the WHO. These are disheartening figures. And yet there is hope. With or without medication, a depression is serious, difficult, and hard... but it does pass.
The sting is in the tail, because it seems as if depression leaves behind scars in the brain that increase vulnerability to a relapse, time and time again. Fifty percent of people who once suffered an episode of depression also suffer a second episode at some point in their life. And of this group, seventy to eighty percent suffer a third episode. Once you have suffered three bouts of depression, a relapse becomes even more likely. This is when depression has basically become a chronic condition.
The most effective way to combat depression is to prevent relapses. And there are many things you can do yourself at times when you are not depressed. Mindfulness will make you aware of the automated (thought) patterns that can trigger a new bout of depression. It will give you tools to choose a different path at such moments.
Weave your own safety net
Mindfulness training will teach you to connect to your thoughts and emotions without allowing them to overwhelm you. By incorporating mindfulness skills into your day-to-day activities, you will basically be weaving a piece of the safety net that will help you prevent a relapse.
Every year, over eight percent of people in the Netherlands have anxiety-related problems. 1.1 million people in the Netherlands suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is therefore a more common condition than depression or burn-out. So, if you have anxiety symptoms, one thing is certain: you are not the only one! Centrum voor Mindfulness offers a special programme for people who suffer from anxiety. Click here for more information and books.