Recognising the symptoms of burnout (and how to prevent it in the first place)

As we head into the last stretch of the year the need for a break from the stress of work gets stronger and stronger.

It's the time of year when people start complaining of burnout. But what are the symptoms of what's been classed as an "occupational phenomenon" and how do we prevent it in the first place?

On Weekend Breakfast, Abongile Nzelenzele speaks to Dr Renata Schoeman psychiatrist and associate professor in leadership at the University of Stellenbosch (SU) Business School.

She lists the three symptoms of burnout:

  • Emotional exhaustion (the feeling that you can't go on)

  • Depersonalisation (withdrawing from people)

  • Reduced personal accomplishment (working harder and harder, but achieving less and less)

Dr Schoeman says it's vital to seek help when you experience this combination of symptoms or any physical symptoms like sleep disturbance or appetitite disturbance. Approach any assistance programme available at your workplace or go and see your general practitioner or a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Make sure that it is not neglected and if there are actually symptoms of depression that you do get the necessary therapeutic support and/or medication if indicated.

Dr Renata Schoeman, Psychiatrist and associate professor in leadership - SU Business School

She says the key to preventing burnout, is to improve your resilience.

Make sure you get ample exercise, at least 30 minutes five times a week, even it it's only a brisk walk, and ensure that you sleep enough.

Dr Renata Schoeman, Psychiatrist and associate professor in leadership - SU Business School

40% of all mental health disorders can be stress-related.

Dr Renata Schoeman, Psychiatrist and associate professor in leadership - SU Business School

For more on preventing burnout, or preventing it from escalating into more serious conditions, listen here:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Recognising the symptoms of burnout (and how to prevent it in the first place)


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