Is burn-out a buzzword?

Is burn-out a buzzword?

01 January


This week our plumber Mike was working in our bathroom. He saw my Burn-Out Coaching study books on the table (Yes! I have already obtained my certificate). He said: well, everyone has a burnout these days. It has become such a buzzword. Does he have a point?

In short: our brain has never evolved.
When we used to live in caves, stress was seen as something threatening.
You see a dangerous bear that can attack you. That causes stress.
Our brain responds immediately. We have 4 options to choose from: fight, flight, freeze or fawn
Our body also responds. Our heart rate increases, breathing speeds up and we start to sweat.

Nowadays there are no more dangerous bears in our streets. At least I haven't seen one lately.

But our brain still responds to stress as if there is a bear; as if it is life threatening. In this respect, our brain has never evolved to today's office situation.

An example
A colleague of mine was responsible for the annual event for a group of important customers. The preparation took months. On the day of the event, she had already gone to the event location. Another colleague wanted to play a joke, so he called her and said: What are you doing there? The event is tomorrow, right? That's what it says on the invitation!
In 1 nano second she started to sweat and her heart rate wend through the roof.

This was not a life-threatening situation, but her brain and body reacted as if she was being attacked by that one bear.

Another example
Our director had invited a number of important customers to a symposium in Italy. As an extra outing, his secretary had organized a tour of the Ferrari factory. But the symposium took place in August. And in August everything is closed and everyone goes on holiday there. So our director stood in front of a closed gate with those important customers. He angrily called that secretary. Again, not a life-threatening situation, but after that phone call her heart rate was about 200 beats per minute.

And then there is the aspect of time
A bear attack lasts (hopefully) quite short. Usually the body and brain go from an increased state of stress back to the old relaxed situation after about 30 minutes.

But nowadays, stress in the office can last for months. There is for example a complex project with a hard deadline or a quotation that takes weeks to work on. Our body and brain still respond to this stress as if it were life-threatening. And because that stress can last for weeks or months, the tension cannot subside.

In addition to that
In the past (in prehistory) there was much less stress. There weren't bears walking around all the time
Nowadays we experience stress almost every day. A constant increased heart rate, constantly accelerated breathing, constant sweating
No wonder you get exhausted

Are you a team leader, are you in HR or are you a manager? Then I hope you have read my blog to the end.
And that you are aware of the fact that our brain works the way it does
If you want to prevent absenteeism from spiralling out of control, I hope that you will sit down with your team so that you can come up with ideas that will provide some calm after a busy period.

Is burnout a buzzword? I hope you can guess what my answer is. But I'm also curious about your opinion. Let me know below.

Deel je ervaringen en lees die van anderen!