Burnout is word that I’ve been hearing a lot about lately, not only because I am currently working through my own burnout, but because it seems that our society continues to think working until you are completely exhausted, sick and defeated is an acceptable way of living. Unfortunately, we have bought into the lie that we should be available 24/7, emotionally ready to deal with everyone else’s concerns at any moment, and that our personal boundaries are not as important as our job’s demands or friend’s and family’s needs.
Despite having knowledge that can set us free from experiencing burnout we continue to create unhealthy patterns that contribute to poor overall mental, emotional and physical health.
Over time, your body’s ability to respond and deal with stress is reduced, especially if you are not dealing with the emotions you are feeling or if you continue to function in a state of high stress with little support of your body and mind. This can eventually lead to burnout and possibly even severe health issues including hormonal problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, digestive issues, insomnia and frequent colds.
Although there are various types of burnout (from emotional to physical) these 9 suggestions will help you on your journey to wellness no matter what type of burnout you are experiencing. Some signs of burnout include frequent colds, anxiety, irregular periods, insomnia, emotional instability, feeling that things you once could handle or too much, depression, lack of emotion or loss of happiness especially for things you once felt joy, constant & severe fatigue – to name just a few. If you are wondering if you have burnout you can check out this article here.
9 Tips for Overcoming Burnout
- Sleep – Go to bed! The most important thing you can do when dealing with burnout is sleep. If you can’t sleep: REST! Try to sleep regular hours on a consistent basis. Practice good sleep hygiene. Get into bed by 10:00 pm allowing your body time to heal itself naturally; each organ in the body has specific times it heals itself and losing precious sleep time will prevent restoration to different parts of your body.
- Eat a wholefood diet. Focus on fresh fruits & vegetables and whole grains. Eat high quality fats daily such as avocados and coconut oils to support healthy hormone production. Try to incorporate legumes with wild-rice for protein. Stay away from red meats and pork; and if you do plan on continuing to eat meat aim for grass-fed, organic lean meats like turkey, bison and chicken or wild fish like salmon or trout.
- Support your liver. The liver has been linked in Chinese medicine to emotions such as anger, frustration and resentment. Given that burnout feelings often include these feelings a great way to heal your body is to support this important organ. Eat foods such as kale, brussel sprouts, grapefruit and dandelion greens. Drink lemon water, burdock leaf and/or dandelion root tea. A healthy liver is better able to process all those good foods, supplements and adaptogens that you will be taking to heal your body.
- Baby those adrenals. Your adrenal glands are your body’s stress managers. Hence, they are extremely important to support when dealing with the adrenal fatigue that is present in burnout. Start taking adaptogens (they help your body deal with physical and mental stress in healthy ways). These include herbs like ashwaganda, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil, and cordycep mushrooms. They come in handy little bags and you can add the recommended amount to a fresh smoothie beverage.
- Stay away from stimulants and alcohol. That means NO coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated. Alcohol also places stress on your liver, can depress mood, as well as cause blood sugar fluctuations which can also affect energy levels and mood. Coffee stresses your adrenal glands which is definitely the last thing you want to place more stress on. Instead drink herbal teas, distilled water and fresh-pressed juices to get the maximum amount of nutrients.
- Support your body with nutrients/minerals. Unfortunately a whole food diet does not completely restore diminished vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Especially when you’ve reached the stage of burnout you are long past the low level stage and are most likely running in the depleted stage. Taking a high quality multi-vitamin is a great way to support your body through this period. Try for a wholefood multi from brands like MegaFood or New Chapter.
- Set personal boundaries. This is an extremely important part of healing your body. It’s not just your body that needs to recover: it’s your mind and emotional capacity that need space. If you continue to function in a state of stress your body will not be able to recover no matter how much you feed it the right things. Boundaries may need to be set in personal/family relationships or in your work environment. Try turning off your phone for an hour over lunch and after 8 pm. You may need help from a counselor or psychologist in recognizing where you need better boundaries and giving you effective strategies.
- Listen to your body. I saved this one for last because I believe it is the MOST HELPFUL tip for overcoming burnout. You may have pushed your body so far that you no longer recognize the signals your body sends you, including when it’s tired physically or emotionally or if you are overwhelmed or even thirsty for a big glass of water! Learning to listen to what it needs may be challenging – but it is especially necessary because your body knows what it needs to heal itself it you just start paying attention! Stopping and resting are the first step to listening to your body. Until you take that first step you won’t have the space to give an ear to your body.
If you put these into practice give yourself time to heal. It can take several months to return to a state of wellness and even longer to return to a place where your physical energy, emotional capacity and ability to manage stress in a healthy way is back to your level of normal. Patience is key.
Visiting a qualified health professional or nutritionist to support you on your wellness journey can reduce the stress that may come with figuring out how to make health and happiness possible again. To schedule a nutritional visit with me click here.