What is Burnout?
Burnout is an epidemic. It is a severe level of stress that is chronically plaguing us. Anxiety, high performing perfectionism but being unable to keep up with everything and doing too much is now a standard part of our daily life. Marital tension, marital stress and fighting can be a form of burnout. As can being frazzled and agitated, short tempered, irritable and edgy. Conversely procrastination or lack of motivation and focus can also be symptoms of burnout.
What causes Burnout?
Many things can cause burnout. Stress, obviously – emotional, physical and mental. But also environmental toxins, food triggers that cause inflammation and medications can over stimulate your stress response system eventually leading to burnout. Symptoms of burnout can also include digestion problems, weight problems especially around your torso, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, lack of motivation, procrastination, autoimmune disease, chronically getting sick with every little bug or not ever getting sick and then being completely wiped out on the first day of vacation.
Adrenal overdrive or adrenal depletion can lead to all of these symptoms. The stress trigger has three phases – (1) we get activated (2) active phase while stress is happening and (3) the resolution phase where the system starts to return to its more balanced calm state. Phases 1 and 2 were meant to keep us safe when exposed to physical danger however in our modern world our stress response is getting activated chronically and continually. In the era of smart phones and immediate communication, there is no turn off button, no down time. Too many demands can lead people to veer into overwhelm and burnout which in turn can lead to break down.
Most of us are heading into overwhelm, we are anxious about getting everything done, or we are going toward burnout or breakdown.
Burnout symptoms can include headaches, sleep problems, digestive problems, feel anxious, depressed or irritable. Breakdown is where we can start to have recognised medical problems. When the adrenal system is being overdriven it begins to become chronically depleted leading to adrenal stress (also called adrenal fatigue). It has been overdriven for so long that you have started to burn out the circuit between your brain and your adrenals so they are basically saying to you that that they cannot support you anymore so they are going to put you into exhaustion mode so you have no choice other than to hit the brakes.
Rather than thinking of illness as our bodies turning against us, we need to look at our symptoms as a sign that forces us to stop and ask ourselves what is going on in our lives and what can we shift to prevent our bodies from having to create these warning signs and symptoms.
Not recognising the signs of Burnout
The problem is that we do not often see the signs of burnout or just accept them as niggling parts of life – digestive problems, not sleeping well, craving sugar and weight gain which can develop into blood pressure problems, hormonal problems, PMS, endometriosis, PCOS and fertility problems and breast cancer. Disrupted rates of cortisol and its effect on hormones can also lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia. We really need to pay attention to burn out – emotional and physical and mental.
What are Adaptogens?
Where do the adaptogens fit into this? What are adaptogens? They are herbs that were traditionally used for longevity, stamina, fertility, immune support and tonics. One popular way of dealing with adrenal stress or adrenal fatigue is to use adaptogens. They can help us adapt to stress. What they are actually doing is at the level of the hypothalamus and the pituitary which is the part of the HPA Axis which is the part of the brain part that tells your adrenals to go into action or tells your adrenals that they have been in action for way to long and that this is affecting your health. The brain literally slows you down so that you produce less cortisol and adrenaline.
Adaptogens can be soothing and nourishing and they can also be supporting and stimulating.
How to use Adaptogens
You cannot reverse yourself from burn out by pushing yourself harder. Adaptogens can help to heal the stress response system, but adaptogens come on a spectrum from the very calming soothing, gentle nourishing non stimulating adaptogens all the way to the extremely stimulating adaptogens.
Gentle calming Adaptogens
If you are feeling energetic and not burnt out but you work night shifts or are doing exams the stimulating adaptogens can be fabulous. But of you are burnt out you should not be using the stimulating adaptogens – you need your rest and soothing, calming adaptions, not additional burn out from over stimulation. We need to nourish, repair and replenish. In fact if you are extremely burnt out it may even be better to start with sleep, calming foods like good quality carbohydrates, getting some sweet potato or squash or wholegrain in the evening which can help – you sleep better because it resets your cortisol levels. You need to consider things like massages or meditation or hot Epsom salts and lavender baths to help get your physical and emotional state little bit more soothed and nourished.
You can then introduce the very gentle supportive, calming and nourishing adaptogens. All adaptogens reduce inflammation and nourish system but the gentle and calming adaptogens are the ones that tend to be the most soothing adaptogens.
Replenishing and nourishing Adaptogens
When you need rest and replenishing and nourishment, the best choice are the gentle soothing adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Reishi Mushrooms and sometimes Maca and Shatavari which are not as calming but deeply nourishing. Ashwagandha and Reishi are the two absolute go tos for healing and soothing the adrenal stress response when there is burn out that has gone into almost where you are into a space of overwhelm. Where you are reaching your limit and you feel fried.
Other nourishing adaptogens include Eleuthero which helps with brain function, Turmeric which is anti-inflammatory and helps with depression and Holy Basil, a little bit more stimulating but not like Ginseng, Schizandra Berry, nourishing to the essence of the body and Maca root, a women’s support hormonal balancing formula. Do not use Adaptogens during pregnancy.
Disharmony in the stress response system leads to disruption in the hormone cortisol and cortisol is the messenger that keeps the body’s cells harmonised to circadian rhythms. It is the body’s circadian rhythms that keeps the body doing what it is supposed to do during our cycle of the day – when to eliminate, what to heal when asleep. One of the biggest ways that we can get our bodies into harmony with their innate wisdom is to get our bodies back into harmony with the cycles of the planet.
In particular the most profoundly affected part of the body by the circadian rhythms is the parts of the brain that control the hormones and chemicals that are being produced by the adrenals and particularly cortisol and adrenaline.
When cortisol is chronically too high it suppresses melatonin making it harder to sleep at night and melatonin is not just for sleep it is also one of our bodies’ biggest detoxifiers. So there is a lot that goes on when we start to get out of balance with natural rhythms. Using herbs can supply the missing elements from plants that trigger the healing response. Adaptogens themselves contain specific chemical triggers that help the cortisol response, find its own rhythm or balance.
Adaptogens are really helpful at helping us to adapt to stress or to recover from the consequences of burnout. However you cannot use adaptogens alone to get out of burn out. They are there to support you to buy you some breathing space to make the changes in your life, they are a support not a substitute to balancing and nourishing lifestyle changes.
Adaptogens cannot be used as a substitute to a good and nourishing lifestyle. It is important to nourish our bodies and listen to the messages of why we are having burn out. What are the things that we can do to shift our lives out of it, our triggers and our exposures?
- An easy 2 Step Plan focusing on (1) simple lifestyle changes to bring you back into balance and (2) the specific natural herbal based protocol that you need to support and nourish you through this process.
- A Work From Home Planner Bundle and a Project Planner Bundle to help you alleviate your stress by getting more organised.
- Sleep Journal and Habit Tracker.
- ADDED BONUS: A 6 Day Getting Out of Corporate Challenge to support you if you feel that you need a complete lifestyle change.
The program is normally $99 but for members of our community for a limited time it is only $29!
The Corporate Goddess Bespoke Aromatherapy Service
And don’t forget, if you need a quick fix to take the edge off a tough day of work stress, why not treat yourself to our NEW Bespoke Aromatherapy Service,
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