My oldest daughter started Kindergarten this month. Seriously, where does the time go??
It’s been a pretty busy and stressful month so far. Lots of changes. Lots to do. Upping the self-care big-time.
If you’re the kind of person who tries to do it all, it’s important to be mindful of the symptoms of burnout and avoid it as best as you can, as burnout can lead to further health complications.
Symptoms of burnout include:
- physical exhaustion, the kind where you feel like you can sleep all day and it still wouldn’t be enough
- emotional/mental exhaustion, where you feel totally spent and can’t take on anything else
- poor appetite/poor digestion
- trouble focusing
- poor memory – starting a task and forgetting what you’re doing, forgetting why you walked into a room, consistently forgetting where you put your keys, etc.
- weakened immune system: getting sick more easily while others around you seem to have a more resilient immune system
- feeling negative, cynical – noticeable change in your moods
- pronounced loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
If this resonates or it sounds like you’re heading down the path of burnout, here are 5 steps you can take to start feeling better:
1. Take time to pause and slow down – this may seem like the easiest thing to do, but also the most difficult one to put into practice. Burnout is often the result of being non-stop on the go. It’s essential that you take time to pause, slow down and assess:
– Where have I been over-extending myself, and where is this need or drive to do-do-do and go-go-go coming from? Is there an underlying need to be liked, approved? Are you constantly doing to avoiding feeling? Do you have an underlying fear of something happening?
– What would happen if you kept going at the same pace as you’re currently going? What needs to change, right now?
2. Establish healthy boundaries and be ok with saying no – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Set aside specific times to answer emails/phone calls/text messages. If it’s not urgent, it can wait. No matter how busy and burned out you feel, there is always something you can take off your plate. Whether it’s cooking dinner, doing laundry, running errands. Ask for help, delegate, outsource.
3. Eat a healthy diet and simplify, simplify, simplify – when you’re feeling burned out, it’s hard to focus on eating healthy, but doing so can do wonders for burnout. In general, I recommend an anti-inflammatory way of eating – plenty of filtered water, fresh vegetables and low sugar fruits, pastured meats and wild fish, minimal processed foods/refined sugar. If your appetite and digestion are weak, eat simple and nourishing foods like broths, soups, stews that are less taxing on your digestive system. Also focus on healing your gut and optimizing your digestion, as chronic stress with burnout often leads to leaky gut and impaired digestion. If cooking stresses you out, order in until you feel better and have more energy.
4. Sleep – sleep is of the utmost importance when you’re burned out – I would even say more than nutrition and more than exercise. Your body needs sleep to repair itself. Schedule it in and make it happen.
5. Adaptogenic herbs – adaptogenic herbs support your body’s natural stress response and are non-habit forming. They have been very healing and soothing for me during my own experiences of burnout. Adaptogenic herbs include holy basil, ashwaganda and rhodiola. Although generally safe to use, there are some precautions, depending on your current health status.