009 Mental burnout and Recovery Practices

This episode will cover Mental Burnout and Recovery Practices


  • Rumination
  • Inability to Focus
  • Cynicism or Negative Attitude
  • Connection between Mental Burnout and Self-Sabotage

When you’re burnt out your lack of mental energy may lead to:

  • Procrastination
    • I’ll do it when I feel better when I’m less exhausted
    • I’ll do it tomorrow
    • I’ll get to it later
  • Poor Systems and Routines
    • No energy for creating efficient ways of doing things
    • Inefficient actions mean you spend more energy doing tasks
    • Task may get done but you are more exhausted after doing them
  • Poor Planning and Chaos
    • Flying by the seat of your pants
    • Doing it when you “feel” like it rather than planning for it
    • Doing what comes “naturally” to you rather than what’s best for you
  • Vicious Cycle
    • Every day is a bad day
    • You wake up with the right intention but lose energy and momentum, fall behind, get disorganized and discouraged
  • Negative Self Talk – occurring both at times of growth and when regressing into old patterns – difference in the voice

Hope – There is hope for things to change

Studies – prevention is best, early multi-model intervention next best

Course of mental symptoms in patients with stress-related exhaustion: does sex or age make a difference?

  • The course of mental illness in patients seeking specialist care for stress-related exhaustion was not related to sex or age. The burden of mental symptoms is high and similar for men and women, and at the 18 month follow-up, one-third of the study group still showed symptoms of burnout. A long duration of symptoms before consultation was associated with a prolonged time of recovery, which underlines the importance of early detection of stress-related symptoms.
    • All patients were offered multimodal treatment (MMT) with similar components but adapted to their individual needs during the whole follow-up period of 18 months
      • Usually visiting the physician with an interval of four to six weeks
      • Physical activity and other lifestyle topics were repeatedly encouraged
      • Eight-week stress reduction group programme
      • Two-hour lecture, teaching basics about stress and the consequences of chronic stress exposure
      • Employers, working colleagues and relatives were also offered to attend a short lecture regarding stress-related mental disorders
      • Cognitive behavioural group therapy for insomnia and/or a recommendation to visit a psychologist for individual psychotherapy were other treatment methods.
      • Offered to participate in an aerobic exercise group and strength training at the clinic once a week for 18 weeks and 20% (n = 47) participated; the rest were recommended individual physical training.
      • Antidepressant medication was offered or adjusted when needed.
      • Communication with the Social Insurance Office and the employer was facilitated, and about half of the patients participated in special meetings regarding the earliest possible return to work.
  • The burden of mental symptoms is high and similar for female and male patients, and at the 18 month follow-up, one-third of the study group still show symptoms of burnout despite extensive MMT

Symptoms that may be stress-related and lead to exhaustion disorder: a retrospective medical chart review in Swedish primary care

  • Patients with exhaustion disorder appear to consult their general practitioner numerous times with stress-related complaints in the years preceding their diagnosis. The findings indicate which presenting complaints general practitioners may need to be more attentive to so that patients at risk of developing exhaustion disorder can be identified earlier and get the support they need. Addressing stress factors earlier in the course of illness and preventing the development of exhaustion disorder may contribute to a reduced burden for both individual patients and for society, with a reduction in sick leave and societal costs for mental illness.
  • The presenting complaint at the occasion when the exhaustion disorder is diagnosed, are:
    • Nausea, irritable bowl, headache, dizziness, palpitations, chest pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, abdominal pain, and feeling faint

Self-reported stressors among patients with Exhaustion Disorder: an exploratory study of patient records

  • Work demands are, by far, the most prevalent stressor, followed by relational problems in private life… One important practical implication of this study is that patients with stress-related exhaustion often have a long period of impaired ability at work. Successful prevention at the workplace is thus of great importance. However, it is equally important to discuss how society can support individuals such as single parents or couples with relational conflicts.

Mental Practices to Prevent or Soothe Burnout

  • Notice your Thinking Patterns
    • What are you unconsciously or repetitively saying to yourself about your situation?
    • What are your beliefs about your situation?
    • How are your thinking patterns and beliefs affecting how you feel?
  • Negative Self Talk Exercises
    • Have a conversation with this Negative Self-Talk
    • Thank the voice for caring about you
    • Listen to it fully as you can
    • Listen for the deeper, underlying values and needs that it’s asking for
    • Take an immediate and then a longer term action to meet it’s request
    • Request a gentler interruption next time, that’s easier for you to hear
  • Planning & Systems
    • Possibly with someone you trust – when in burnt out less able to plan
    • Evaluate your goals
    • Creating an actionable plan, with small achievable steps
  • Ask for Help and Support
  • Take Care of yourself now
  • Do the restorative activities sooner
  • Sleep – Oura Ring