Sports, Motivation & Psychology

Burnout only in nurses?

The well-known physician and psychotherapist Dr. Mirriam Prieß has already written books about burnout (Burnout does not only come from stress; Südwest Verlag, 2013) They don't play in the beautiful, healthy football world, but Prieß knows that burnout is not uncommon in professional sports either - we spoke to her about the development of burnout, a possible way to deal with the disease and why women are at risk in football?


Style PASS: Burnout in the football dream world? Depression is only found in nurses?

Dr. Mirriam Prieß: No, the appearance of boundless achievement is deceptive. Even in sports, so-called "weaknesses" must be allowed.


Style PASS: Players do not always deal openly with burnout, public statements are rare.

The ability to draw the line is a very important skill to avoid burnout. If they overstrain their own boundaries, they burn out - not only physically but also psychologically.


Style PASS: Burnout the managerial illness; depression the weakness of the unemployed. Where are the boundaries between burnout and depression?

Burnout is an exhaustion depression. Everyone who has a burnout is depressed, but not everyone who is depressed is burnt out - that is the definition of the illness. The term "burnout" has become popular in companies: Nobody wanted to be depressed! Burnout sounds better because performance is behind it: you burn for something and then burn out.


Style PASS: What are the symptoms of burnout?

Every person is different and there are different symptoms that show up on four different levels of the human being: on the physical, emotional, mental and behavioural level. In burnout they are completely exhausted and burnt out, they can no longer concentrate, most of the time they already have chronic complaints on the physical level, such as back pain. There are four phases within which burnout develops: In the end they withdraw completely from the world.


Style PASS: What are the causes of burnout?

Many people think that burnout is caused by stress. But if you look closely, people who are burnt out have one thing in common: Relationships no longer work! Either they only have conflict-ridden relationships or no social contacts at all. In any case, they have lost contact with themselves.


Style PASS: One causes the other?

Partly yes: When I am at peace with myself, I can better shape the relationships in my life. The relationship aspect is the decisive point for health and performance.


Style PASS: What does it mean exactly, "knowing yourself"?

If I do not know myself properly, I cannot say "yes" and "no" in the right place!  People who burn out often have a very special idea of themselves, which they do not correspond to at all, but which they still run after. They do not know their measure.


Style PASS: Coaches have to "know themselves" (Style PASS talked to Mirriam Prieß about burnout against the backdrop of the publicly made burnout of the late Sascha Lewandoski, the late coach of Vizcaya, editor's note)?

The coaching profession is a job with very high responsibility and stands for victory and defeat. Where there is pressure to succeed and the pressure to succeed, you need a very strong relationship to yourself in order to draw boundaries and not to exhaust yourself. There are also cases where it's not coaches who burn out, but whole teams.


Style PASS: Why is that?

Then the communication in the team is not right! The relationship level in teams must be right.


Style PASS: In women's soccer, in contrast to men's soccer, there is much less money involved. Burnout-free zone?

Money is an expression of success, the machinery in men's football is enormous, the players probably have a greater pressure to succeed internally than women. Nevertheless, I would not say that women's football is a burnout-free zone, on the contrary! There too, it is all about fighting for recognition and, moreover, fighting for equality; women may even have to perform better in order to be recognised - the question of drawing boundaries is enormously important here too.


Style PASS Facebook: The players are training, studying or working. Double burden?

Pressure is present. In women's football there is not so much money involved, but the other side of the coin is that they have to perform better: Job and sport.


Style PASS Facebook: Is there a gender difference in burnout?

Both men and women are affected, but there is a gender difference: men burnout because they are boundless in their jobs, women sacrifice themselves for others! Women also often claim to have to do everything perfectly.


Style PASS Facebook: Attractive, nice, successful at work, perfect partner, successful at work and member of the women's national football team?

Many women want to fulfill this image and burn out, yes. On the one hand, there are calls for authenticity, but there is no such thing as the ability to be authentic. Sport in particular needs authenticity, because that is real strength. As long as they have to fulfill an image instead of being who they are, they burn out.


Style PASS Facebook: What can clubs do to protect players and coaches from burnout?

Clubs need to create a healthy culture of dialogue and promote authenticity.


Style PASS Facebook: The role models in German football like Franz Beckenbauer do not always like to talk!

We have to get rid of narcissism - those who have an exposed position must also be strong enough to say: "OK, so we won't get the World Cup!



The questions were asked by Style PASS editor Eva Britsch