In Europe, a "burnout" is a common diagnosis of people that feel exhausted and sometimes depressed. In the U.S., most people are not that familiar with the term burnout in a medical sense, but that doesn’t mean a lot of people aren’t suffering from it.
I am one of them. My previous article was about how to avoid a burnout—a state of total exhaustion of your body and mind due to a prolonged exposure to stress. Burnout has a serious impact on your life, and I want to share with you how I overcame my burnout so you can learn how to feel good every day.
When you are in a state of burnout, you should not be surprised if the total recovery time is at least eight to 12 months, and for some people, even more. I know it sounds a lot but you have to understand that it takes a lot to get into a burnout in the first place! You only get this if you are in a state of stress for a long time—sometimes years and years.
Stress hormones evolved in human bodies to help us energize during dangerous situations. When we are stressed, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and the hormone cortisol. Long term stress means overexposure to cortisol, which disrupts almost all your body's natural processes.
While you should always go to a doctor when suffering from any health problem, there are things you can do at home to feel better. You should talk to your doctor about the options you have besides medications to deal with a burnout, panic attacks, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or extreme exhaustion. I think medication is useful in extreme cases of this when you need help to get out of the negative cycle. But when you can, start changing your daily routine and especially your diet, because that is a big factor, too.
Avoid Energy Drinks
For people who suffer from a burnout, or the previously named health problems (including panic attacks and anxiety), I recommend you stop taking energy boosting products, because it is just not good for you if your body can't regulate its stress hormones naturally. You might feel very tired without these boosters, but tiredness is there for a reason. It is a sign of your body telling you you need to stop doing what you are doing and rest, sleep and relax, maybe much longer than you want to. But if you take care of yourself now, you can avoid being chronically fatigued for the rest of your life. It is a serious thing!
Prioritize Your Health
Things that you should really try to do when you are tired or exhausted are obvious: Sleep, relaxation, meditation, minimizing stress, taking time off from work and eating only healthy foods. Increase vegetables and fruit intake, and don’t forget the protein! If you are a vegetarian or vegan that is something you should focus on—make sure you take in the right amount of proteins every day.
Find ways to relax. Meditate and listen to your breathing. A lot of people have chronic disrupted breathing when stressed out, working in front of a computer many hours at once, and are ill or burned out. You can also try acupuncture, listening to calming music, and getting massages. It sounds funny, but laughing out loud over something funny or crying your eyes out over something sad works too to relax your body.
Find Structure in Your Life
I found it very helpful when I suffered from a burnout to find structure in my life. Organize and prioritize what really needs to be done. We all tend to take on too much work. It is better in the beginning to limit your work than take on too much for too long until you collapse and need to recover for months. So when you're tired, go with less responsibilities and more routine. Your daily routine should include at least eight hours of sleep plus, if you can fit them in, one or two 20 minute naps. Every day. A nap really gives you energy and gives the body some time to relax and recover. Get creative and see if you can sneak in a nap at the office!
Find a Buddy
If you are really ill due to a burnout, ask someone you know to be your “buddy” while getting back on track. This person can help you do the basic things like grocery shopping, cooking and helping with things that need to get done. Your partner, family or close friends are a great option. I found it very helpful that my partner was taking care of me and made three super healthy meals each day for me and give me the structure I needed so much when I felt really bad physically. A buddy also is great to support you when you start to be active in the public again. It could feel like you have to learn to buy groceries all over again, without anxiety attacks. For instance, I was only in bed at the beginning of my burnout and that was for weeks and weeks. It took me seven months to be able to function a bit like normal again after falling ill. Thankfully, I had someone besides me who could chaperone me on my first public outings, because I was afraid to get panic attacks again. It seriously takes a lot of time, effort, and the right care.
Another thing you can do is to invest in the right kind of vitamins, minerals and enzymes while getting back to health. This is always a good idea, as most people miss certain essential vitamins already. This means one multivitamin a day. And you could also add supplements like spirulina, chlorella and kelp. Not only do these “sea minerals” supply you with the right minerals, they also absorb heavy metals and other toxins in your body and help you release it. Great for detox as well. I also believe from experience that depressions can be less deep and problematic when taking in enough and the right kind of vitamins and minerals. Your brain needs that for energy! There are some vitamins and minerals that are a bit hard on the your body and can make you tired, so get yourself informed before buying.
Another thing you could look into are enzymes to support your adrenal glands. I know they helped me a lot. The ones I took are called “cytozyme AD” and “ADHS," a raw concentrate from neonatal calf adrenal glands that naturally contains all the substances which the adrenal glands need to be able to function optimally (I know they're not vegetarian, but when you are really ill you need to make some decisions for your own health). From the moment I started taking them I started to feel better.
And the best cure for being tired and stressed: Long walks every day. Walk the dog, walk with your partner or friends and have a good talk. Not only will you get closer to them that way, you can enjoy the city and/or nature—and it is also fun!
Remember, bouncing back will take time. There is no short-cut with energizing pills, drinks and foods. What does work is a lifestyle change, spending more time on yourself instead on other, less important things. You need to do this for you. A lot of work is important, but nothing is as important as you being healthy!
Good luck staying fit and unstressed!
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