GUEST POSTS: In a society with increasing demands for performance and accessibility at work and in private life, more and more people are being overwhelmed and exhausted. What exactly are the signs of burnout? And how is it treated?

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These questions are highlighted in an article on the websites of the psychologists Lian & Fjell where can you read more about burnout. Here we share excerpts from the article with the authors' permission.


What is burnout?

Psychologist Fredrik Lian and psychologist Kristian A. Fjellskaalnes write:

Burnout is a condition of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion caused by high and persistent stress levels, often associated with work. Burnout occurs when we feel emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed, with an inability to satisfy constant and ongoing demands in everyday life.

Burnout reduces productivity, drains you of energy and tends to increase the experience of helplessness, and an exhaustion that further contributes to not feeling like you have anything more to give.


Symptoms of burnout

There are a number of signs of burnout to be aware of. The negative effects tend to affect everyday life, including home, work and social life. The condition can also affect the immune system, making us more vulnerable to disease including colds and the flu.


Physical signs


  1. Tired, fatigued and exhausted most of the day
  2. Poorer immune system and more frequent illness
  3. More headaches and muscle aches
  4. Poorer appetite and sleep quality


Emotional signs


  1. A lot of self-criticism, comparison with others and a feeling of failure
  2. Anxiety and inner turmoil
  3. Experience of helplessness
  4. Loss of motivation
  5. Increasing degree of cynicism and nihilism
  6. Reduced experience of joy and goal achievement


Behavioral signs


  1. Avoiding what arouses inner turmoil, work tasks and responsibilities
  2. Increased isolation and avoidance of relationships and social situations
  3. Procrastination
  4. Misplacement of frustration, often projection of frustration towards others
  5. Increased desire to be home, to come late or to leave work early
  6. Use of food, games, alcohol / other psychoactive substances or anything else to feel better


Causes of burnout

Psychologist Fredrik Lian and psychologist Kristian A. Fjellskaalnes write further:

Burnout differs from other conditions in that it is often closely related to one's work situation.

The risk increases by:


  1. Lack of experience of control
  2. Unclear expectations
  3. Lack of reward for the work
  4. Dysfunctional work dynamics
  5. Lack of social support
  6. Too high workload
  7. Imbalance between work and leisure


How to prevent burnout?

Psychologist Fredrik Lian and psychologist Kristian A. Fjellskaalnes suggest the following ways to prevent burnout: 


  1. Practice saying no. A common sign of burnout is difficulty setting boundaries for oneself.
  2. Work actively to have a good sleep pattern. You can read more about how to do this here (Norwegian).
  3. Calm down. Set your own speed limit. Move slower than normal. Breath.
  4. Recognize your inner perfectionist. If you give 100% every day, you will spend more than you have. Allow 80% effort occasionally. Use the remaining 20% ​​for yourself and what you like.
  5. Talk to the boss. Dare to ask for adjustments in everyday work. If the work load is too great, it is important to report this.
  6. Be aware of possible signs of burnout. Many people do not know the pitfalls one can go into, and do not listen to the body's signals. Learn to know your own limits, and respect these.
  7. Exercise. Physical exercise has a good effect on reducing stress, as well as preventing further development of anxiety and especially depression.
  8. Write down your stressors.  If you start to get stressed, identify the situation and write it down. The more self-aware you are, the more control you can have over it.
  9. Make a "date" with yourself every day. Close the door to the office, and practice just "being". Calming down alone increases energy levels throughout the day.


Treatment of burnout

Psychologist Fredrik Lian and psychologist Kristian A. Fjellskaalnes write about this:

It is not always possible to fix your difficulties on your own. A sign that you should perhaps seek professional help is when it affects your life, and you do not manage to reverse the development even if you have tried. There are a number of methods that can work well for those with signs of burnout, including cognitive behavioral therapy or emotion-focused therapy.

They also add:

Our psychologists at Lian & Fjell Psychologist Services have good experience in the treatment of burnout, and work from the methods cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Intensive Dynamic Short-Term Therapy (ISTDP). You can read more about how this works by click on the link here (Norway only).


Read more about burnout