4 Holistic Tips to Beat Burnout
Sarah came to see me, visibly exhausted and in tears, soon after finishing her rigorous nursing program. “I feel so burnt out! I’m tired all the time, but I have the hardest time falling asleep because I keep thinking about all the things I should be doing, and all I really want to do is just cry.”
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I’ve treated many patients like Sarah who felt this way. I encouraged Sarah to share everything that was weighing heavy on her heart and let her know that I understood how she felt. We discussed diagnostic tests that could help us understand how her body was responding to the prolonged stress, and created a plan filled with healthy practices and holistic remedies to help her feel better.
Most people, like Sarah, experience symptoms of burnout at some point in their lives. But what exactly is burnout and what can we do about it? Read below to learn more about burnout, the common causes and how to address it!
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a stress disorder that can lead to exhaustion, depression and anxiety. It’s an emotional and physical response to prolonged stress, often related to one’s job. If left untreated, long-term burnout can result in metabolic or cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that work-related burnout is associated with increased mortality over a period of 10 years.
Common Symptoms of Burnout
People experiencing burnout may feel varying intensities of some or all the symptoms below:
- Low mood
- Poor sleep
- Feeling easily overwhelmed
- Inability to concentrate or focus
What Causes Burnout?
The most common cause of burnout is prolonged stress, usually caused by a heavy workload and minimal support. However, burnout can also result from ongoing emotional or physical stress from taking care of a sick loved one, frequent travel or a worldwide pandemic!
4 Holistic Ways to Beat Burnout
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I always emphasize the importance of finding and dealing with the cause of your symptoms. So, if your burnout is caused by unhealthy work conditions, that’s what needs to be resolved or changed.
While you address what’s causing your symptoms, or wait as the temporary stressful period passes, there are natural options that can help. Below, I’ve outlined 4 of the best holistic ways to help you beat burnout!
1. Sleep on Time & Avoid Blue Light
Restful sleep is vital for helping the body heal from burnout. I always recommend going to bed at the same time every night and getting out of bed at the same time each morning. This not only ensures that you get the amount of sleep you need, it also promotes healthy hormone balance throughout the day.
Cortisol is a hormone made by our adrenal glands to help us feel energized, reduce inflammation and respond to stress. We normally release more cortisol in the morning and less at night. Melatonin is a hormone made by our brains to help us fall asleep and we naturally produce more at night. Prolonged stress, erratic sleep schedules and evening blue light exposure from our phones, laptops and TV screens can all shift the times that these hormones are released, making it more difficult to get restful, restorative sleep.
You can read more about how blue light affects our sleep and overall health here.
2. Balance Your Blood Sugar
Have you ever felt shaky, irritated or even anxious between meals? This can happen when blood sugar drops too low and our bodies must work harder to make sure our cells have adequate energy to function. It’s an additional stress on the body and frequent dips in blood sugar can make it harder to recover from burnout.
The best way to balance your blood sugar throughout the day is to incorporate healthy fats, protein and fiber with every meal. Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts provide long-lasting fuel for the body and can minimize any significant decline in blood sugar. Protein along with fiber-rich plants like lentils, broccoli and berries all have a similar effect on stabilizing blood sugar.
3. Get Plenty of Vitamin C
Did you know that goats can make their own vitamin C? Furthermore, they produce more vitamin C when they’re stressed! Findings like this have led to additional studies looking at vitamin C’s role in the stress response.4
Unfortunately, we humans cannot make our own vitamin C. However, research has shown that healthy adults who took high doses of vitamin C for 14 days improved subjective response to stress as well as blood pressure and cortisol levels.
I like to get my nutrients from food whenever possible, but it can be difficult to get enough vitamin C from food alone. Our Tru-C gummies are a particular favorite in my household because they taste delicious and one serving provides the same amount of vitamin C as 2 cups of orange juice. You can snag a bottle of our delicious Tru-C gummies here.
4. Try Adaptogens
Adaptogens are plants that support the adrenal glands and aid in resilience during stressful times. I often recommend adaptogens to my patients to help them recover from burnout and feel their best!
These are a few of my favorite adaptogens:
This beautiful plant is known as “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng” and is considered one of the most important plants in Ayurvedic medicine– the traditional system of medicine in India. It’s been used for thousands of years to boost happiness and promote a youthful state of physical and mental health.
A 2012 study found that people with a history of chronic stress experienced significant reduction in subjective and objective markers of stress after 60 days of taking Ashwagandha root.
Rhodiola is a flowering plant found in the cold and mountainous regions of Europe and Asia and has traditionally been used by herbalists to enhance physical performance and alleviate mental fatigue.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that Rhodiola improved mental work capacity, attention, task performance and overall mood. Researchers attribute this finding to Rhodiola’s ability to normalize cortisol production and reduce excess formation of nitric oxide (NO)– high levels of which can increase inflammation and decrease energy production in the body.1
Known as the “five flavored fruit,” this berry originated from Asia and has been studied for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting properties.
Research has also shown that the dry ripe fruit of Schisandra may improve low mood symptoms related to stress by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)- an important molecule involved in stress adaptation.
Cordyceps, also known as “Caterpillar fungus,” is described as an exotic medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine. In northern India, local herders observed that when their sheep ate cordyceps while grazing in the forest, they became very strong and stout. This led to more interest in using cordyceps to improve stamina and vitality in humans and animals alike.
A study conducted on mice found that cordyceps enhanced endurance and resistance to fatigue after 3 weeks of administration. Human studies have also shown that cordyceps improved markers of energy metabolism and could boost athletic performance.
Most people encounter symptoms of burnout at some point in their lives. The good news is that there are lots of things that can help!
If you think you may be dealing with symptoms related to burnout, please talk with your doctor so that you can get the support you need. It’s also important to consult with your doctor, especially if you have any medical conditions or allergies, before trying any new supplements.
What’s your favorite burnout-busting strategy? Tag us on Instagram @liveTrulyfe and let us know!
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