Nowadays it is often reported in the media: more and more Westerners sooner or later have to deal with a burnout. And the figures do not lie, the last three years the number of Belgians with complaints has only increased. So it is a very big social problem… But what exactly is it? In this blog I will answer questions such as “how can I recognize a burnout?”, “how does it arise?” and “what can I do about it?” .

What is a burnout?

The Burnout Foundation gives the following definition : “Burnout is a state (or threat of) emotional exhaustion as a result of human interaction. The emotional exhaustion is often followed by 'depersonalization' or cynicism, and less confidence in one's own abilities.”

In other words, a burnout is the result of long-term accumulated stress and strain on the body . It is usually the result of two factors: the work situation and the person's personality.

It entails physical, social and psychological complaints. People with burnout feel burned out. They have less energy and often have a feeling of inferiority.

Everything that was taken for granted before, now requires too much energy. This physical exhaustion not only affects one's own well-being, but can also cause financial and family problems. In addition, productivity in the workplace often drops.

The symptoms of a burnout

It is very important to recognize the symptoms in time. Prevention is better than cure in this case. Burnout can have serious consequences. That's why I'm sharing the most common symptoms divided into 3 categories: physical, mental and behavioral.


1. Extreme fatigue

One of the most common physical complaints is extreme fatigue. You feel completely burnt out and lifeless. Even the smallest daily tasks are no longer possible. Are you always tired? Then be sure to visit your doctor. Because fatigue can be harmless or point to a bigger problem.

In addition, there are some tips that you can apply yourself to combat extreme fatigue:

  • Avoid stress. You do this best by taking time for yourself. Take some relaxation every day! Stress is one of the main causes of burnout.
  • Eat and drink balanced. For example, drink a cup of matcha every day. Did you know that matcha tea contains 137 times more antioxidants than green tea? It also provides a huge energy boost for about 5 hours! In addition, the right food provides enough energy to get through the day.
  • Go exercise. I can't say it enough, but movement is really important. It makes you feel fit and it has a positive effect on health.
  • More tips? I already wrote a blog about fatigue and what you can do about it.

2. Trouble Sleeping (Insomnia)

In my previous blog I already wrote about sleeping problems and tips to sleep better. Did you know that people who have a burnout often sleep poorly? They have trouble falling asleep or often wake up during the night.

This has one simple reason. Prolonged stress affects your body. Stress produces adrenaline, the body responds to this by producing the anti-stress hormone cortisol. This stress hormone keeps you awake and causes you to worry. As a result, you fall asleep less quickly.

3. Other physical complaints

A burnout can also cause the following complaints:

  • Palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Sweat faster
  • Headache from stress
  • Stomach and intestinal problems

Of course, the complaints vary from person to person and it is best to have them examined by your doctor.


In addition to physical symptoms, a burnout also causes mental exhaustion. For example, it can entail various complaints that may be less noticeable at first. A burnout can cause the following problems:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Less motivation at work
  • An anxious feeling
  • Losing self-confidence
  • Feeling easily frustrated and irritable


Finally, you also have the behavioral symptoms. A burnout obviously also has a major influence on behaviour. You don't feel good about yourself and therefore behave differently. This can have the following consequences:

  • You avoid social contact and try to isolate yourself completely.
  • You behave distantly and also avoid collaborations at work.
  • You yourself react more aggressively and you are also quickly irritable.
  • It is more difficult for you to empathize with the situation of others and you also react indifferently.
  • You perform much less well at work.

How does a burnout occur?

People often think that a burnout is simply caused by work pressure. But actually the cause is hardly just the work situation.

Burnout is usually caused by the combination of two or more factors. These are often the work situation and the personality. Perfectionists would be so much more prone to the syndrome. They are taking on more and more work and cannot easily say stop. If you always nod yes and don't say stop, it will take its toll on your body. Due to years of overload at work, all kinds of complaints arise.

The following factors can also lead to burnout:

  • Poor work-life balance
  • If you don't get recognition for your talents
  • An overload of stimuli. Thanks to social media and technology, we can be reached anywhere and at any time
  • Traumatic or serious events such as a death
  • Daily frustrations
  • (…)

Number of Belgians with a burnout

In recent years, concrete figures have been lacking. Although more research is still required, much has been written about it recently.

Research by the SERV , the Social and Economic Council of Flanders, shows the following: About 1 in 8 Flemish employees have to deal with complaints that can lead to a burnout.

In addition, figures from 2017 from the RIZIV, the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance, showed that about 28,000 Belgians have a burnout. And the number of Belgians with complaints has risen enormously over the past 3 years .

So it is a major social problem. That is precisely why we should attach great importance to treating burnout.

Treatment of a burnout

Treating a burnout is a real specialization. So let yourself be helped by a specialist. There are all kinds of methods and nowadays you can also contact coaches specialized in treating a burnout.

The recovery from a burnout takes a lot of time . It all starts with the diagnosis. Specialists start with a conversation, but this is not enough. A burnout can be the result of all kinds of causes. That is why it is important to find out how the burnout came about . You can then receive treatment depending on the cause.

Do you suffer from certain complaints yourself? Please consult your doctor first. He will question you and, based on the conversation, treat you himself or refer you to another specialist.

Some possible treatments:

  • Stress management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Medical supervision
  • Adjustment of tasks in the workplace
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Relaxation therapy

Tips to recover from a burnout yourself

If you show symptoms of a burnout, always make an appointment with your doctor first. He or she will then determine the root cause of the burnout and propose an appropriate treatment.

However, there are some things you can do yourself to speed up your recovery .

Make time for yourself

You can view a burnout as a signal from your body. It makes it clear that you have crossed your limits. In our busy society we always have to keep performing. So be sure to take time for yourself. For example, do something you like to do every week and take a moment of rest!

Insert peak moments

Worrying and stress are often the cause of a burnout. So write down all your thoughts on a piece of paper and think about it. Take such fixed moments and clear your head completely at that moment. This will ensure that you worry less before going to bed and therefore sleep better!

Learn to be assertive

Perfectionists and good employees would be more prone to burnout. Yes-men can't say no and that's why they take on too much work. Therefore, learn to be assertive.

Do you already have a lot of work and ask someone for help? Then say no if you don't have time.

There are many courses that teach you how to become more assertive.

Give yourself a digital detox

Nowadays we are always online, any time of the day. We read the news, are on social media and do online research. Research by the National Academy for Media and Society shows that there is a link between social media and burnout.

More and more young people suffer from social media stress. A digital detox can certainly do wonders for our health! Nowadays, digital detox holidays are all the rage. Devices are turned off or left at home during these holidays.

Burnout is often related to stress and fatigue. On our blog you will find interesting articles about fatigue and what you can do about it: