More and more people are suffering ‘burnout’ – but is this the fault of modern life or is physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion a far older condition? BBC Future Investigates.

By: David Robson

Published: July 22nd, 2016. ( )

Level of difficulty: Upper-Intermediate

Prepared by Gözde SIZAN


  • Prezi: Job Burnout by Zahann Nelson

  • Are you suffering from burnout syndrome? Take the test and see!

  • Burnout – Causes, symptoms and treatment – healthchanneltv


  • 10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It by By Lisa M. Gerry


  • 1) Burnout syndrome includes
  1. a) mental and physical tiredness
  2. b) feelings of lethargy
  3. c) concentration problems
  4. d) emotional despair
  5. e) reluctance to work
  6. f) none of the above
  7. g) all of the above
  8. h) other: please specify
  • 2) What is the difference between how women and men dealt with burnout?
  • 3) The major difference between depression and burnout is
    • o The loss of self esteem
    • o The focus of attention
    • o The self image
    • o All of the above
    • o None of the above
  • 4) Why shouldn’t burnout be confused with chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS)?
  • 5) What human shortcoming makes burnout more of a problem in the modern world?
  • 6) What leaves workers in a permanent state of ‘fight or flight’? (Becareful, there are two answers)
  • 7) What does “this state” refer to in thephrase “This state originally evolved to deal with acute danger”?
  • 8) How does the 24/7 culture affect people?
  • 9) The information about the beliefs of Galen are provided to prove that _________________________________________________________________________


  • 10) In what way is the 4th century attitude to exhaustion different from the modern one ?
  • 11) It is implied in the text that the modern involvement with social media is _________________


  • 12) Look back at the text thus far and the examples of Galen and Christianity. We understand from these examples that___________________________________________________________


  • 13) In reality, we still don’t really understand what gives us that feeling of ‘energy’ and how it can ______________  so rapidly without physical exertion. Fill in the blank with an appropriate verb. Mark as many as necessary.
  1. Dissipate
  2. Deplete
  3. Use up
  4. Waste
  • 14) It can be concluded from Schaffner’s ideas about symptoms of energy depletion that _______


  • 15) Religious and astrological explanations continued to abound / improve / thrive / flow until the birth of modern medicine. Mark as many as necessary.
  • 16) According to the text, emotional distress can/can’t bring about seizures and blindness.
  • 17) Shaffner denies/ doesn’t deny the stress of modern life.
  • 18) Today, the burnout syndrome can be cured / can’t be cured
  • 19) The best way to overcome burnout is to find out what restores your energy. True of False?
  • 20) According to the text, how does technologies turn out to be bad ?
  • 21) What is suggested in the text to cope with the burnout syndrome? How?


Alternative 1

Write an essay in which you discuss the reasons for burnout syndrome in modern life.

Alternative 2

         Do you think that burnout originates in the mind and the body or the environment itself? Write an argumentative essay about the question and support your ideas with information from the text.


  • 1) All of the above
  • 2) For example, male employees reporting exhaustion were far more likely to take extended sick leave than burned out women.
  • 3) The focus of attention
  • 4) Because CFS involves prolonged periods of excruciating psysical and mental exhaustion for at least six motnhs.(while burnout does not involve any)
  • 5) Because they need to deal with the modern working environment
  • 6) The increasing emphasis on productivity and the emotional need to improve one’s worth through one’s job
  • 7) Fight or flight
  • 8) Cities and technological devices are always buzzing with life, and this 24/7 culture can make it difficult to rest at any hour of the day and night. With no chance to recharge our minds and bodies, our batteries are constantly running dangerously low.
  • 9) People suffered from extreme fatigue long before the rise of the modern workplace.
  • 10) Exhaustion  was seen as a sign of spiritual weakness in the 4th century
  • 11) Similar to that monk reported compulsively and restlessly seeking out his brethen for idle chit-chat rather than engaging in useful employement
  • 12) Fatigue and exhaustion has always been with us and what changes throughout history are the causes and effects
  • 13) A and b(we don’t know whether the symptoms originate in the mind or the body)
  • 14) Whether the symptoms originate in the body or the mind is unknown an we still don’t know whether these symptoms are the result of society or created by our own behaviour.
  • 15) Abound / thrive / flow
  • 16) Can
  • 17) Doesn’t deny
  • 18) can’t be cured
  • 19) True
  • 20) Technologies were meant to save energy but they have become stress factors in their own right.


  • 21) You have to know yourself what costs you energy and what restores your energy. Some people might need stimulation from extreme sports, while others may prefer reading a book. What’s important is to draw boundaries between work and leisure.