Burnon or Burnout - The Real Cost of Stress

Burnon or Burnout - The Real Cost of Stress
Mia Española
4 June 2024
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It’s not merely about avoiding burnout, but also identifying and addressing ‘burnon’ before it leads to severe complications.


Many individuals are perpetually busy and passionate about their jobs. They always have their phones at hand, ready to work at any given moment. They find joy in their work, even when faced with a multitude of tasks. However, being constantly occupied can lead to complications. The relentless stress, exacerbated by insufficient breaks, can result in health issues. This phenomenon is now referred to as ‘burnon.’ It’s a hidden cost of perpetual connectivity and dedication to work. Often, we don’t recognize it until it manifests as physical or mental health problems. This serves as a reminder that we need to prioritize self-care and strive for balance in our hectic lives.


Understanding Burnon and Burnout


The term “burnon” was introduced by psychologists Timo Schiele and Bert te Wildt from a psychosomatic clinic near Munich. This clinic treats patients with burnout syndrome. Burnout involves exhaustion, reduced performance, and cynicism, leading to mental detachment from work. Burnon, on the other hand, is different. As Timo Schiele explains, “People with burnon are overly enthusiastic about their work, almost to the point of hyperactivity. This led us to define Burnon syndrome.”


The Impact of Burnon


“Burnon” is a term that merges “burnout” and “passion”. It characterizes a situation where individuals are deeply passionate about their work, yet experience significant stress and tension due to the rapid pace and high pressure. This can profoundly impact both their physical and mental health, as well as their overall quality of life.


Physical Impact: The physical symptoms of burnon often serve as the initial indicators. Individuals may experience recurring neck and back pain due to persistent tension and poor posture from prolonged hours at the desk. Headaches may become a frequent occurrence due to the ongoing mental strain. Some individuals might also develop a condition called bruxism, which involves grinding their teeth and can lead to dental problems over time.


Psychological Impact: Burnon can also have severe psychological consequences. The constant stress and pressure can evoke feelings of hopelessness as individuals grapple with the demands of their work. This can gradually erode their sense of happiness and satisfaction, potentially leading to chronic unhappiness or even depression. The relentless pace can also prompt individuals to question the purpose and significance of their work, triggering existential crises and feelings of emptiness.


Impact on Work Performance: Despite originating from a place of passion and commitment, burnon can detrimentally affect work performance. The continuous stress and tension can diminish productivity, creativity, and problem-solving capabilities. The physical and psychological symptoms may result in increased sick leave and higher employee turnover rates.


Impact on Personal Relationships: Burnon can also put a strain on personal relationships. Being perpetually engrossed in work leaves little room for family and friends, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Moreover, the stress and tension can render individuals more irritable and less patient, resulting in conflicts and misunderstandings.


Common Causes of Burnon


Our busy modern lives heavily focus on professional success and social recognition. Factors like intense competition, economic crises, and high living costs increase stress. While there’s more data on burnout, burnon is also on the rise. For example, a German health insurance company reported a 20% increase in burnout cases in 2023 compared to the previous year, with one in five workers fearing they might develop the syndrome.


Here are some common causes of burnon:


Intense Competition: In today’s globalized world, competition is fiercer than ever. Whether it’s in the workplace or in social circles, the pressure to outperform others can lead to excessive stress and eventually burnon.

Economic Crises: Economic downturns and financial instability can create a sense of uncertainty and fear. This can lead to longer working hours and the need to take on additional responsibilities, which can contribute to burnon.

High Living Costs: The cost of living in many cities around the world has been on a steady rise. This financial pressure can lead to burnon as individuals work harder and longer to maintain their standard of living.

Work-Life Imbalance: The blurring of boundaries between work and personal life, especially with the advent of remote work, can lead to burnon. When work permeates all aspects of life, it becomes difficult to switch off and relax.

Unrealistic Expectations: Society often places high expectations on individuals, whether it’s achieving professional success, maintaining a certain lifestyle, or meeting social standards. Trying to live up to these expectations can lead to burnon.

Lack of Self-Care: Neglecting self-care and personal well-being in the pursuit of success can lead to burnon. This includes neglecting physical health, mental health, and personal relationships.


Treating Burnon


The initial step in addressing the issue of chronic stress is recognizing the problem. As Schiele points out, “The first step in the treatment process is becoming aware of the issue. Individuals suffering from burnout syndrome often appear to be functioning normally, which is why we depend on observations and reports from their family members or friends to identify the problem. It’s also crucial to reflect on our personal values.”


Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.


The treatment for burnout involves a combination of interventions, including lifestyle changes, psychological support, and relaxation techniques. The most important step is recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to manage stress. This can involve regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and taking time each day to relax and do things you enjoy.


It’s also important to seek support, whether from a trusted friend, family member, or professional counselor. Talking about your feelings and experiences can often help you gain perspective and develop effective coping strategies. Reflecting on personal values can also be a powerful tool in combating burnout. By aligning your daily activities with what you truly value, you can often regain a sense of control and purpose.


Reducing Constant Stress


Stress is a common and often unavoidable part of life. However, when it becomes constant, it can have serious impacts on our health and well-being. Therefore, it’s crucial to find effective ways to manage and reduce this persistent stress.


Different individuals may find relief through various relaxation techniques. What works best can vary greatly from person to person, and it’s important to find a method that suits one’s lifestyle and personal preferences. Some of these relaxation methods could include activities such as walking, practicing meditation, or engaging in yoga.


Walking, for instance, allows one to connect with nature, clear the mind, and physically distance oneself from stressors. Meditation, on the other hand, can help one to focus on the present moment, fostering a sense of peace and tranquility. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote physical and mental well-being.


The key to reducing constant stress is to consciously incorporate these relaxation activities into daily life. This means deliberately taking time out of each day to slow down, disconnect from the hustle and bustle, and find moments of calm and tranquility. This could be as simple as taking a few minutes each morning to meditate, or scheduling regular walks during lunch breaks.


In addition to these self-care practices, seeking professional help can also be highly beneficial in managing constant stress. This could involve therapy, where one can learn effective coping strategies and gain a better understanding of the sources of their stress. Medical care, on the other hand, can help address any underlying health issues that may be contributing to high stress levels.

The Importance of Naming the Disease


Burnout has long been considered a trendy illness, but neither burnout nor burnon are officially recognized as distinct mental illnesses, despite their serious health impacts. Symptoms vary widely, making it hard to classify these syndromes uniformly. However, having the term burnon is crucial for those affected to describe their symptoms, Schiele says.


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