This summer feels like a long winter. I sometimes notice that I tell friends: "Wow, the winter is almost over", and then realize I should have said summer. The climate change in Europe has decided that it would be this way, and you notice that there are more and more people who have not managed to charge their batteries this summer.

Vacation stress: the rainy, wintry summer stress is starting to grow

Burnout, tired, burnt out, or exhausted because of a lack of sunlight or vitamin D?

These last years, more and more studies are presented which link the lack of vitamin D to a reduction of the physical and psychological immune system. The old idea that we fell ill during winter due to cold is left behind more and more, and replaced with the insight that the lack of sun during winter leads to a shortage of vitamin D, thereby affecting our immune system in a negative way. We have known for years that vitamin D is made in our body through the presence of sunlight on our skin. The details of the mechanism regarding how vitamin D plays a role in our immune system is something which is still to be studied more, but it has become clear that vitamin D also plays a role, together with many other factors. Furthermore, it is also known that the sunlight enters our eyes via our optic nerve, and that this also has an influence on our psychological state. Sunlight regulates our circadian rhythm, among other things, as well as our mood and life joy.

Burnout, fatigued, burnt out, or exhausted because of a lack of fun?

In my practice as a physician and psychotherapist, I often notice that there is a connection between the amount of hours of fun per day or per week which someone experiences, and the development of phenomena such as depression, stress, burnout, a burnt-out or exhausted feeling, and other factors of fatigue. It is a vicious cycle: because you have little fun, you feel tired more easily, and because you feel tired, you feel like there is less time and space available for fun. This is also one of the reasons why our research team for the development of the self-help program 15 Minutes 4 Me paid a lot of attention to stimulating fun in the life of the participants. By asking specific questions, we help to develop the consciousness regarding what small things bring us enjoyment and contentment in life. With the help of this insight, participants will partake in more activities which bring them joy or contentment.

Burnout, fatigued, burnt-out or exhausted by a lack of optimism?

To continue with that which we wrote above, we notice that joy consists of two aspects: on the one hand, doing enjoyable things, and on the other hand the optimism which we can find in things which we do, and learning to see and appreciate the positive side of reality. People who have trained their brains less in seeing the optimistic side of life will more easily become exhausted, be fatigued, or feel burnt out. They are more at risk for developing a burnout or even a depression. Except for these health phenomena, it is also well-known that optimism attracts success in life, meaning that enjoyable things come your way more easily, and that you thus indirectly attract things in your life which can make your life more enjoyable. A study which beautifully illustrates that, is the one by Prof. Martin Seligmann, who saw that, in the past 40 years, 9 out of 10 presidential elections were won by the presidential candidate who had the most optimistic messages in their speeches. So, optimism attracts health and success!

Burnout, fatigued, burnt out or exhausted because of a lack of variety and new stimuli to your brain?

The American researcher Ernest Rossi, MD, published countless articles and books in which he analyzes how "newness" or "variety" can improve your health and reduce stress. People who get more new stimuli into their brain, are more creatively stimulated and are happier and better protected from phenomena such as stress, burnout, fatigue, or an exhausted or burnt-up feeling.

Online self-help: How can you treat burnout, fatigue, stress, a burnt out or exhausted feeling via the internet?

At the moment we are conducting research regarding the effect of a choice-focused online approach via the online self-help program 15 Minutes 4 Me. We were pleasantly surprised when we started to analyze the first results and when we noticed that the results of our online participants are very close to the world's best standards in the behavioral therapy and other proven effective therapy methods. More details on this will follow in the near future.

Online self-test: how can you measure burn-out, fatigue, stress, a burnt out or exhausted feeling objectively?

We developed a simple free self-test consisting of 21 short questions, to measure if you suffer from some type of stress, fatigue, burn-out, anxiety, or even depression. You can take this test now by clicking here.

Paul Koeck, MD