How constant stress damages your health?

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How constant stress damages your health?

What does not fit is made to fit. That applies to many things, but very often this motto applies to us. According to the Austrian working climate index of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labor, every third person feels at risk of burnout. Are we all weak or is the pressure actually increasing?

The physician, biologist and author Sabine Gapp-Bauß deals with stress, burnout , depression and how to find ways out of the crisis. We asked her to talk.

Every third person feels at risk of burnout. Can that be true?

Gapp-Bauss: One is a feeling and the other is fact. I don’t think depression and burnout have increased dramatically. Nowadays, however, there is certainly a greater awareness of one’s own well-being. During the war there was no reflection on this, it was about survival, and in the post-war period it was about reorganizing. Today we are in the luxury position of being able to think about how we are doing.

So is burnout a luxury problem?

Partly. Our society is very much about personal feelings; about what each individual desires. Ideas and reality sometimes diverge greatly, and burnout is then quickly taken as an inflationary, modern expression for everything. Originally it is not a disease diagnostic term, but a borrowed one from the 1920s in America. There was a time when firefighters got into a physical exhaustion syndrome from being overworked, which was then called burnout. Today many say: “I’m so exhausted, I’m burned out!” We certainly don’t have less, but a different kind of stress . The job demands more and more.

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Many see themselves as interchangeable cogs in a “hire and fire” society. But we also cause constant stress in our private lives. Who can still do nothing? Just think how much time it takes to constantly use our mobile phones in our free time. Even children and young people are always networked and are under enormous stress as a result. This is constant partial attention. At work, this is called multitasking. More and more additional tasks, more and more pointless employment and bureaucratization. This meaninglessness of our activities and the security policy make us ill in the long run.

What do you mean by hedging policy?

Well, nowadays, for example, you can no longer sell something with a handshake. We are globally networked through the Internet. These comparison possibilities through globalization have immense effects on our well-being. In the past, you had the people you knew on site, and you had to deal with them. Now we are connected worldwide. The same product may be cheaper in China, which requires global insurance. It’s no longer about relationships between two people who know each other because they’ve always had business relationships with each other. This requires security on all sides and makes everything more complicated, but also a lot easier.

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More and more additional tasks, more and more pointless employment and bureaucratization. This meaninglessness of our activities and the security policy make us ill in the long run.

So was everything better in the past?

No, there are incredible possibilities, but of course that is also seductive. The more opportunities there are, the more you want to achieve. This requires new attention. You have to learn that first. Digitization has overtaken us so much that the autonomic nervous system cannot keep up.

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Is the suffering greater today?

Yes, because people today know how to feel good. This is suggested all the time. In advertising, in business. If you take these high standards as a latte, then everyone ends up in burnout because they can’t always achieve what they want. Although stress is completely subjective and necessary for our resilience and release of adrenaline. It can also be a positive kick and a phenomenon of enthusiasm.

Many see themselves as interchangeable cogs in a “hire and fire” society.

How do you know when stress becomes negative?

It becomes negative stress when the resources are less than the ability to do something. When there is a mismatch between recovery and demand over a long period of time.

So is burnout a symptom of the meritocracy?

Absolutely. Burnout is a term for physical exhaustion, but always also a mental overload syndrome. There are two components: One is an external trigger or something that causes decompensation to erupt. This can be overwhelmed at work or overwhelmed privately, for example by caring for a relative, which requires too much commitment to the outside world over a long period of time and leaves little time to regenerate. However, the exhaustion also has a personal component. Since many people are not good at expressing themselves when everything is too much for them and they need support, suffering forces them to do so.

In your book you focus a lot on self-help strategies. How much do patients have in their own hands?

Nothing works without your own change or your own commitment to yourself. A therapist can provide insights that you then have to implement yourself. Many people ignore this and always blame others for their poor health. Burnout and depression are extreme states of mental and physical well-being, so it is absolutely necessary to practice good physical and mental self-care. It is essentially about being able to create a physical and mental sense of well-being of your own accord. You can’t get over depression if you’re in a bad physical state all the time.

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What role do family members play?

Family and partnership are incredibly important. They form a great emotional support. However, relatives must learn to leave the responsibility to those who are ill or depressed. Many fall into a kind of codependency and bear responsibilities that are not theirs. You have to find solutions and support systems together. You won’t cure an alcoholic by putting away the bottles for him either.

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