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Signs of burnout and how to prevent it

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November 28, 2017

 

Burnout is defined as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

 

Most people experience stress. But there is a difference between regular stress and burnout, which is complete mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.

 

Burnout can lead to chronic stress and toxic thought patterns, severe depression and anxiety. It can manifest physically and cause health to deteriorate. Headaches, memory impairment, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, sleep disturbance (insomnia) and weak immunity are all experienced in burnout.

 

Most people experience burnout at least once in their life, particularly individuals in high pressure jobs or those who just live chaotic lives. Some even experience it multiple times.

 

The first step to avoiding and overcoming burnout is identifying it.  There are ways to identify the early warning signs of burnout. Here are some different ways it shows up:

 

1. High levels of stress or anxiety. Feeling frequently on edge in the ‘fight of flight’ response. Your senses are in overdrive with adrenaline and cortisol constantly coursing through your body. You may even experience a panic attacks, heart palpitations and feel resilience decreasing.

 

2. Lack of engagement and the feeling of running on empty. You don’t feel motivated at work. You have difficulty focusing and no longer find enjoyment in things. You feel as if you are running on empty and no amount of rest seems to be enough, ever.

 

3. Increased cynicism. Feelings of resentment or disconnection are present. You may find yourself being cynical, cranky, defensive and negative. Maybe you’re snapping at family or colleagues more easily. That inner sense of calm, joy and peace is diminished.  

 

4. Not getting enough sleep. Too busy to go to bed early? Not getting the suggested minimum amount of sleep (seven to eight hours each night)? Any less and you risk some level of burn out. Or maybe you have trouble falling to sleep. Your mind and body are restless, or you’re waking exhausted, feeling as though you don’t get that deep refreshing sleep.

 

5. Low energy and exhaustion. You feel tired all the time. Not just sleepy but drained physically, mentally and emotionally. You’re crashing out by the end of the day and want to zone out in front of the tv. No amount of rest can replenish your energy.

 

6. Not enough time. You feel as though you’re always rushing about, in a hurry and never have enough to fit everything in.

 

7. Physical illness. Initially you may feel a little out of balance. Or suffer regular headaches, a persistent cold or digestive upset. Overtime this weakens our immunity and can progress into a more serious diagnosis.

 

There are many practices you can implement immediately to prevent burnout from occurring. Here are the top 3:


1. Sleep

The purpose of sleep is to repair and rejuvenate the body. Focus on getting good quality and good duration of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene. This means going to be early, and waking early at the same time each day. Follow the saying ‘early to bed, early to rise.’

 

Start winding down a few hours before going to bed – disconnect from technology and introduce relaxation techniques at least 2 hours before bedtime to adequality calm down the activity of the nervous system to promote deep, sound, rejuvenating sleep.  

 

2. Eat well and Nourish the body

Provide the body and mind the nourishment it needs to function at its peak. Fuel up regularly with green leafy vegetables and take 2 serves of fresh fruit per day. Cut out the refined sugar and minimise coffee in your diet. These foods deplete energy and feed anxiety.

 

Don’t skip meals! If you find yourself missing meals because you’re working straight through the day, you’ll end up eating a large dinner late at night, leading to digestive discomfort and impacting sleep. Eat at regular meal times and eat to appetite.

 

3. Meditate

Meditation is the best medicine to prevent burnout. 20 minutes, twice a day greatly removes stress and fatigue from your system.

The mind and the body are intimately connected, and an estimated 90% of illnesses are caused by stress (Dr. Bruce Lipton, Stanford University Medical Centre). The long-term effect of stress on the nervous system is disruption of the growth and repair processes, leading to illness and burnout.

 

University research worldwide is finding that meditation is one of the simplest and fastest ways to develop mental resilience, improved focus and increased clarity of thought. Meditation attunes you to your own settled inner state of mind, producing higher levels of brain and physical performance. The technique works to not only improve our physiological wellbeing, but to help us reach our full potential.

 

Burnout is so common. If you find yourself experiencing this or noticing the signs of burnout, be sure to go easy on yourself. Remember you are human, and your body has limits. You can only push it so far. Implement these top 3 actions and take the time stop, pause and recover your energy.

 

 

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Article written by Tegan Wallis | Ayurvedic Consultant at Veda Wellness


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