Beating Burnout in the Middle of a Dumpster Fire
This decade has been far from the safe & predictable world most of us took for granted leading up to 2020. From the “C-word” (Covid-19) to lockdowns & travel restrictions, school closures, remote work, job losses, a volatile housing market, rapid inflation, and a war in Europe, it is no surprise “dumpster fire” is used to sum up the state of the post-2019 world.
Overwhelming levels of stress have led to an uptick in fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, bankruptcy, marital divorce, self-medication with alcohol, cannabis, psychedelics & illicit drugs, drug overdose deaths, overeating, workaholism, pornography usage, unnecessary retail therapy & the overconsumption of digital media through streaming platforms, online gaming & social media. With no clear end to the instability & uncertainty of our times, it is essential we all take care of our physical & mental health to avoid burnout. If you do not first secure your own oxygen mask; you will be of no help to others, when you are the one in need of rescue.
Facts on Burnout
Burnout is defined as physical & mental collapse caused by overwork or stress (Oxford Dictionary). When someone feels burned-out, they often describe feeling wired but tired; with lots of nervous energy, but no ability to channel it productively. Burnout can be caused by a combination of internal stressors (unhealthy devotion to perfectionism, critical self-talk) and external stressors (high workplace demands, a toxic homelife). Burnout is more often seen in individuals lacking healthy coping mechanisms & adaptive strategies.
Burnout can lead to impaired work performance, loss of income, the breakdown of the family unit and mental & physical illness. It is important to be aware of the signs of burnout & adopt healthy coping strategies that work for you. It is equally important to reach out for help to others in your support system, including a trusted healthcare professional.
Integrative Approaches to Combat Burnout
1. Increase Nutrient & Antioxidant Levels:
Some lose their appetite under stress while others binge eat, but regardless of the calories, people under stress tend to be deficient in essential nutrients at the vitamin, mineral & antioxidant level. During periods of high stress, multiple factors can lead to nutritional deficiency; people unconsciously switch their food selections to ultra-processed, calorie-rich & nutrient-poor foods, the body’s ability to digest & absorb key nutrients is reduced, while at the same time the body has higher nutritional demands under stress.
If you are not regularly consuming a balanced diet, adopting a Mediterranean-style diet which includes a colorful diversity of fruits & vegetables, a high intake of healthy fats (olive oil & fish) & minimally processed ingredients can reduce burnout. A daily multivitamin and targeted nutritional supplements can play a vital role in closing nutritional gaps.
IV nutrient infusions & vitamin shots are additional treatments used by integrative doctors when managing the health impacts of unchecked stress. Direct administration of high-dose, fundamental nutrition to the body can rapidly correct nutritional imbalances. Clients commonly report increased energy & stress resiliency, improved sleep duration & sleep quality, improved mood & concentration, and reduced pain & inflammation through a course of nutrient infusions containing a formula of vitamin C, B complex, electrolytes & trace minerals (magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc etc.) & natural anti-inflammatories including glutathione (GSSH) & NAD+.
2. Adaptogen Herbs Support the Body Through Stress:
“Adaptogens” fall into a class of herbal medicines that increase physical & mental resilience. Increased resilience protects you from the ill effects of excessive strain & reduces the need for recovery. Adaptogen herbs reduce fatigue, anxiety, stress-related
food cravings, depressed mood & poor concentration caused by stress. When prescribed by a knowledgeable professional, adaptogens are perfectly safe & extremely effective & are commonly consumed by athletes, medical students & the military; individuals pushed to standards of high performance under conditions of intense pressure & minimal recovery time.
3. Optimize Sleep Efficiency
Difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or simply not having enough time to sleep are common complaints of the overstressed, overworked, modern professional. There are many safe, effective, non-addictive natural supplements that can help you fall asleep, stay asleep & improve sleep efficiency, helping you achieve a more restful sleep in less time. L-theanine, a natural compound found in green tea, reduces the jitteriness, heart palpitations & anxiety experienced by caffeine drinkers & when taken before bed in a sleep supplement (minus the caffeine), L-theanine safely improves the time & quality of sleep, without the risk of dependency or addiction.
4. Make the Upgrade to Green Tea
No arguments from me, coffee is an elixir sent from the gods to us mortals. Aside from the obvious great taste & mood & energy boosting effects, research shows regular coffee & tea consumption lowers the risk of developing dementia & Alzheimer’s, heart disease, certain cancers & liver disease. But with great power comes great responsibility & coffee consumption isn’t all upside. Caffeine can increase anxiety, heart palpitations, acid reflux & insomnia, not to mentioned stained teeth & bad breath. Overuse of stimulants such as caffeine hastens burnout by masking inadequate sleep & recovery & depleting the body’s adrenaline response.
Green tea bridges the gap between the immense health benefits of regular tea & coffee consumption & the pitfalls of caffeine & coffee dependency. Switching to green tea allows you to wean down from a high caffeine intake while avoiding
withdrawal headaches & irritability. Many of the stimulating side effects of caffeine are negated by the relaxing effects of L-theanine found only in green tea. Additionally, green tea is not roasted (coffee) or fermented (black tea), both of which are responsible for the stained teeth caused by black tea & coffee. Green tea consumption improves oral hygiene, reducing incidence of cavities, gingivitis & gum disease. No need to kick the caffeine or coffee completely, but re-evaluating your relationship with the most widely used drug on the planet is never a bad idea.
5. Therapy for high performance individuals
Honing your decision-making & problem-solving abilities & adopting healthier coping strategies affords you greater resiliency over life’s challenges. Greater resiliency allows one’s energy & vitality to match the thrill & excitement of a fast-paced, adventurous lifestyle. With the right mental health expert, you can learn to better avoid your own blind spots & minimize self-sabotage. Evidence-based fields of psychology to explore include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) & Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
6. Pen to paper
Handwriting out top-of-mind thoughts, feelings & behaviours allows individuals to constructively process information impactful to their wellbeing & quality of your life. I often recommend clients to take 5 minutes before bed to write out negative or worrying thoughts, beliefs, or actions in a worry journal. Defining a space for negativity allows you to practice boundary setting around your worry & improve your mental agility switch between tasks & patterns of thinking. Reflect on old posts to notice patterns, progress & analyze thoughts, emotions & behaviours then vs now.
Gratitude journaling is another great mental exercise to practice setting positive intention & to reframe negative thought patterns
7. Hormone & Metabolic Balance
The stress hormone cortisol impacts every single cell & organ in the body. Cortisol is involved in a complex relationship with thyroid function, brain neurochemistry, as well as male & female hormone health. Chronic stress can increase hormone imbalances, infertility & sexual dysfunction in both men & women. It is key to address stress & hormone health holistically, as they interrelated upon one another.
There are many impactful strategies you can adopt to increase your stress resiliency & beat back burnout amidst a dumpster fire. Remember to seek the guidance of a trusted healthcare provider to discuss changes to your health, including your levels of stress & to explore options when supplementing with adaptogen herbs, natural sleep aids & IV nutrient infusions & to find out more about healthy coping strategies, improving sleep habits, differing schools of counselling therapy & optimal hormone balance.
Yours in Health.
Dr. Jatish Kaler
Proactive Health Group