Five causes of burnout and how to prevent them

Bijgewerkt: 5 nov 2020

In order to have a healthy life everything needs to be in balance. When professional life overcomes personal life, frustrations and tiredness appear. When it goes to the extreme, the workload turns into burn-out. As fancy as it sounds, as darker it is. Get into the causes of burn-out and how to prevent them.


1. Quantitative job demands

Studies show that when an individual experiences stress at work, because of workload, time pressure, many hours worked per week, having a high amount of direct client contact and dealing with severe client problems there is a higher chance for experiencing emotional exhaustion.

How to prevent this?

Change your work model: take more breaks, cut on overtime hours, work less in order to have a personal life-work balance

2. Role problems

You may experience some issues regarding your tasks during your daily job. For example, in case of role conflict (conflicting demands from different people at work have to be met) or ambiguity when there is no adequate information to do the job well. You end up feeling uncertain about what and how you have to complete your tasks. All these role problems can produce emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment.

How to prevent this?

Go job crafting: a process where people can adjust the way they work (take certain tasks that are more interesting to you, choose to make more presentations if this is what drives you). Job crafting can lead to a lower level of stress.

“The wise rest at least as hard as they work.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

3. Lack of social support from supervisors or coworkers

The presence of social support from your supervisor or your work colleagues is essential in order to know you are on a good path and that your work environment is productive. Emotional exhaustion can appear if the job demands are too high in order to cope with them and depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment can appear when there is no feedback from your supervisor and colleagues.

How to prevent this?

Ask for social support from work colleagues, family and friends. If your organization doesn’t have a feedback process implemented, suggest adding this.

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4. Client-related demands

For people that are working with clients or patients, it may be difficult to deal with some of them on a daily basis. Interaction with difficult clients, helping terminally ill patients or experiencing confrontation with death can produce emotional exhaustion.

How to prevent this?

  • Relax

Do relaxing activities: listen to music, paint, read or dance.

  • Eat healthy

Have a healthy diet: a balanced meal has nutritional value and brings you energy to go on with your life.

  • Exercise

Research suggests that doing exercises is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress

  • Mental support

Don't wait too long to call for help (from friends, a coach or psychologist). For medical staff that are in need of mental help at this very moment. Go to: www.covidcompassion.org for free coaching to help you stay grounded.

5. Managerial and entrepreneurial tasks

Research suggests that the main causes of burnout amongst managers and entrepreneurs are related to sales, finance, supplies, administration and the issue of human resources management. As these individuals are in management and leadership positions, they are more prone to burnout as this condition is usually linked to occupational loneliness and entrepreneurial orientation.

When it comes to entrepreneurs, studies show that job fit is connected to burn-out. As in developing a business it requires entrepreneurial passion, sometimes, this passions can transform into a potential obsessive passion, that encourages the phenomenon of burn-out.

How to prevent this?

Do introspection and meditation: think about how you feel in stressful situations and how you can cope with them.

Camelia Brande is a master student of the Entrepreneurship programme of UVA & VU and is doing her master thesis about Entrepreneurial Burnout. She believes that it is important to discover the psychological reasons why entrepreneurs ignore the symptoms of a burn-out even when the awareness of burn-out exists.

If you are an entrepreneur that has experienced/is experiencing burnout, or you may know someone in this situation, and is willing to give an interview, please complete the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeRR-wStse6ZIouV9dx-wvXwvpDFLDQyoFhhg8U2NtBaCgbdw/viewform

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