Higher, faster, further - in today's performance-oriented society, it's becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between work and leisure time. For instance, the "home office" has extended our workplace so far into our living space that it could just as easily be called our "office home." Unfortunately, this encroachment means that our work is always nearby, making it more difficult to switch off after a tough day and contributing to a state known as "burn-on." Researched primarily in Europe, burn-on is similar to burn-out in that it involves a state of exhaustion and depression, but with some distinct differences. In this article, we'll explain this new "burn-on" phenomenon and what those affected can do about it.
Burn-on is characterized by chronic exhaustion coupled with depression and is considered a preliminary stage of burn-out. With the latter, as the name suggests, you feel depleted and defeated, but with burn-on, you experience a kind of hyperactivity combined with exhausting paralysis. Being more effective becomes an obsession, subordinating everything else. The same technology that allows for new workplace methodologies, such as the home office or "hybrid working," has also made work always accessible. With work continuously in the background, we're more likely to think about our to-do lists, even after the workday ends, than enjoy our personal lives. This trend is especially true of high-achievers, who find little satisfaction in what they've already accomplished and are constantly preparing for the next challenge.
What can be the symptoms or consequences of burn-on?
What Burn-Out has in common with Burn-On is the feeling of despair, senselessness, hopelessness, lack of perspective, and the loss of joy in everyday life.
Those affected desperately chase the feeling that "everything should be fine," increasing their pressure to perform and driving them to work even harder. The compulsion for organization, tidiness, and cleanliness can be very pronounced, with anything outside their imposed structures being viewed as a "distraction" from their goal. They find themselves under extreme time pressure and often have a packed schedule that allows very little for recreation or relaxation. People suffering from chronic stress are often unaware of it and don't recognize the symptoms. Often their thoughts revolve around why they are no longer as happy as they used to be and what they need to do to improve the situation.
Burn-on makes it difficult for people to experience the joy in their lives even as it compels them to chase that feeling.
Due to the permanent state of tension, those affected with burn-on have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night. Lack of sleep deprives them of sleep's essential, revitalizing effects and can have repercussions like high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other issues. Burn-on sufferers who encounter health problems often wonder why it happened to them when they were eating healthily, exercising, and thought they were taking good care of themselves. They didn't realize they were subordinating exercise and nutrition to their performance at work. Other symptoms of exhaustion and depression can be rapid mood swings and severe back, shoulder, and neck pain.
What can you do about burn-on?
The first step in combating burn-on and embracing health and relaxation may sound trivial, but it's essential: you must change your mindset. Of course, changes in attitude don't happen overnight, and the longer you've been in a constantly performance-driven state, the harder it will be. However, the more you realize that something has to change, the sooner it will happen. It can also help to talk to other people about your situation. Finally, visualizing the kind of life balance you'd like to achieve can motivate you to make time for the personally important, non-work-related aspects of your life.
Learn to slow down your everyday life, not just to recharge your batteries so you can plunge back into the same daily routine. Instead, find a better balance between your body and mind and your work and relaxation. The focus should be on you and your well-being. For example, take small exercise breaks during work. Walk a few steps or stretch, which is also good for your muscles. You can clear your head and refresh your energy levels. You can also exercise after work to shake off stress.
Incorporate short mindfulness exercises in your everyday life. Mindfulness sessions help you to focus on the here and now without chasing the past and future. This self-awareness can help you push aside any mental snares that could otherwise cause you to fall back into old patterns.
All-round talent: trampoline training
Trampoline exercise offers a great all-in-one way to fight burn-on. First, it activates every muscle in your body, making even brief workouts extremely effective. Gentle bouncing on the pliable surface can release tension in your shoulder, neck, and back and help to relax your body. The pressure literally falls off you.
A more vigorous, holistic workout also provides cardiovascular conditioning, helping you fight high blood pressure and reduce your heart attack and stroke risk.
Mini-trampoline workouts are also convenient: burn-on sufferers can easily incorporate them into their otherwise very structured daily routine, either at work, home, or both. Whether you need a full-body workout, relaxation exercises, or a quick way to revitalize your body and mind, a rebounder can provide it. Ultimately, a mini-trampoline can be your little island of relaxation, where you can take care of your body and state of mind by performing the mindfulness exercises mentioned above. Let your trampoline time be about your well-being, not your peak performance or maximizing your workouts.
If you find some burn-on symptoms apply to you, don't worry: we all go through down times and periods of low motivation. However, if the symptoms and the bad mood persist for an extended period, you should consider consulting with a doctor. Remember that you and your health are inestimably valuable and deserve care.