Beat burnout with burnout coach Leanne Spencer

The Classic Stages of Burnout

Herbert Freudenberger was a German-born psychologist who dedicated much of his work to studying stress, burnout and substance abuse. He and a colleague, Gail North, put together a twelve-phase process to explain how burnout occurs. I think it’s interesting to see the slide into burnout divided into phases, as it might create greater awareness around the process, and help you to recognise the signs. Note that the phases are not necessarily always followed in sequential order:

  1. The compulsion to prove oneself – excessive ambition, perhaps at all costs
  2. Working harder – high personal expectations and a tendency to take on too much coupled with a reluctance to delegate
  3. Neglecting your needs – family, friends and personal care are side-lined
  4. Displacement of conflicts – you might be unaware that what you’re doing isn’t right, and become frustrated as you can’t see the source of the problem
  5. Revision of values – your value system becomes your job, you might become emotionally blunt, and you fall into a basic state of denial
  6. Denial of emerging problems – you might start to have less social contact, and blame work for the changes in your personality and manner
  7. Withdrawal – social contact might now be minimal, and alcohol or drugs might be sought for release from feelings of hopelessness
  8. Obvious behavioural changes – colleagues, friends and family can no longer ignore the changes that have occurred in you
  9. Depersonalisation – you lose track of your personal needs and ‘lose yourself’, performing mechanical functions only and viewing life only in the present time
  10. Inner emptiness – possibly manifesting itself in damaging behaviours such as overeating, undereating, casual sex, alcohol or drugs
  11. Depression – you are exhausted, and can see little or no meaning in life
  12. Burnout syndrome – this is a physical and mental collapse which requires immediate medical attention.

Leanne Spencer is a Fitness Entrepreneur, Author of the Amazon Bestselling book Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best and Founder of the Rise Method and Bodyshot Performance Limited. Connect with me @riseshinemethod or Facebook.

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