design to fight burnout

to be burnout

‘To be burnout’ is a complex clinical picture and a growing problem in our society. The cause is often related to stress at work and/or in private life. There, a person is, often for a longer period of time, confronted with too much unhealthy stress and stimulants.


In the first phase of a burnout someone will often experience complete exhaustion and the frustration of being unable to accomplish the things they could before, as well as a mental battle against certain physical ailments and complaints. These could for example include panic attacks, heart palpitations, hyperventilation, tinnitus and inexplicable sore muscles.


These physical symptoms surface because the body is deregulated and off balance, but rarely indicate a severe health problem. Though this seems very hard to believe! 

Unfortunately, during the first phase, this can make a burnout feel more intense and almost unbearable.

'Numinous' can help

'Numinous' can help with this. To give people with a burnout tactile feedback with the help of sensors (biofeedback), they will perceive what exactly is happening in their body in a new way. This will give an insight into their physical ailments. Because this immersive installation works with existing treatments, and can be used at home aswell for exercise or personal training, a universal significance becomes apparent for specialists working with burnout patients.


'Numinous' can help balance the control of physical awareness. It also helps with letting go of the over-alertness of these physical symptoms, which can cause a lot of stress. Hopefully this will lead to a quicker and permanent recovery of the overly burdened body.

The concept and prototype of Numinous are developed in co-creation with both patients, therapists and the designer. 

how it works

The now existing prototype of ‘Numinous’ works with a tactile feedback loop. During this experience a person will be guided by a therapist through a certain exercise to learn how to control heart rate and breathing, and understand that these two are inseparably connected, especially with anxiety attacks that involve heart poundings and hyperventilation. By the use of biofeedback sensors ‘Numinous’ creates a tactile feedback that mimics these inner-body experiences. This allows for user to gain understanding and insight on a compassionate level, instead of static numbers and values in regular healthcare that can be confusing and hard to understand for patients. 


about the designer

Stefanie Bonte graduated in 2012 as a Theatre Designer at HKU (University of Arts, Utrecht). Since then she worked for various theatre- and installation productions. 


In 2014 she was struck with an intense burn-out. Dreadful ongoing heart poundings, spontaneous hyperventilation, sudden tinnitus and a lot of weight loss resulted in extremely decreased health and uncontrollable panic attacks. Eventually by completely stepping back from any (work related) stress, Stefanie was able to understand what was going on and realized her life had to change. 


In 2015 she started the master Crossover Creativity (Master of Arts) to discover if she could manifest an entanglement between being an artist and her fascination for social design outside the theatre. Specially to create an impact on social questions that usually don’t interact with the creative sector. By making crossovers with different industries as a creative entrepreneur driven by fascination, both interesting new ways of collaboration, as new angles and solutions to social problems emerge. By adding ‘esthetics’ as an important part of the proces, she believes that designing in co-creation with both the user and the (experience) expert, is the future of creating a more empathic, sustainable and enjoyable world.