While burnout has become somewhat of a buzzword recently, it remains a very real problem for my high performers. As the year ends, what could be worse than blinking and realizing you’ve missed the vacation time you worked all year for because you have burnt yourself out – so you spend your hard-earned free time in an exhaustion coma? To prevent that from happening, here’s how to spot and stop burnout in its tracks. So that when vacation rolls around, you get to be present for every second of it and show up for 2023: ready, intentional, peaceful, and purposeful.
In one word: exhaustion.
As someone who has personally experienced burnout, I would describe it as the kind of exhaustion that feels like no amount of sleep, rest or restoration can cure. You feel as though anything and everything is just a little too much effort. Something as simple as feeding yourself, or coffee with a friend, seems like a chore. Doing work? Well, that just feels impossible.
Burnout is not a diagnosed condition but psychologists theorize that anxiety and/or depression often preempt, cause, or are an effect of burnout. Just like most things it’s unique to everyone, so people may experience burnout a little differently.
Are you suffering from insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, a compromised immune system, or gastrointestinal disorders along with any of the above?
If you answer even partially “YES” to these questions you, my friend, might be experiencing burnout. It’s always surprising to people at first that their mind, body, and spirit are as connected as they are. But anyone who has experienced burnout will know what I mean when I say that there’s a kind of tiredness that goes beyond just your mind and body. And in a world demanding us to “grind” our way to the top, it’s time we rebel to rise before it destroys us completely.
The signs and symptoms of burnout overlap those of depression and/or anxiety/ mood disorders. Going to see a registered counselor, psychologist or coach should be a high performers’ quarterly standard at the very least.
Disclaimer aside – the good news is that there are ways to stop that burnout in its tracks and come home to yourself. Or if you realize you already are in a state of burnout – the great news is that I and my team at the Gut Health Agency can help.
Let the next sentence empower you instead of scare you: Your mood, energy levels, immune system, and even how you treat others are all influenced by your gut. So it’s not at all surprising that an unhappy gut can either cause or be negatively impacted by burnout. The cycle is so vicious it’s often unclear which causes which – but the cycle looks like this:
You’re stressed at work and need to put in more hours. Your sleep quantity and quality decrease, causing you to experience brain fog and require more working hours and consequently – less sleep. You start craving foods high in carbohydrates and your body knows the best place to find that quick energy is junk food. You also have less time to prepare your own food so the amount of processed food you eat doubles. This leads to less helpful gut bacteria and a breeding frenzy for the unhelpful gut bacteria and of course good ol’ inflammation. Without proper nutrition, your health suffers – as does your immune system – and you get sick causing you to miss work and get even more stressed. On top of that, you’re constipated, constantly breaking out, and cranky with everyone.
Yikes. Can you see now why this is such an important phenomenon to prevent? Here are some ways that have worked for me:
This is a rather unconventional one in the high performers’ list but in the dog-eat-dog world, it’s often every man for himself. Luckily, we have come to understand the power of community. A powerful tactic to employ is to have a burnout buddy to keep you accountable each week. This will be someone you have a weekly check-in with to make sure you are recovering and decompressing from the work week. Finding joy in what you do. And getting help when you are not. Of course when you sign up for our signature program that’s a shortcut to these benefits. You gain access to a community of like-minded women AND a Care Team of professionals checking in with you to keep you accountable.
We are creatures of habit. Having set habits and rituals feels intrinsically comforting to us. It’s why there’s comfort around certain foods, our childhood house, or even some of the clothes and smells. They remind us of a time when we had so many ingrained routines and rituals, thanks to our caregivers and/or school, that we felt completely safe. We knew exactly what we’d do when we woke up and we knew what to expect when we got home from school. This might not have been everyone’s reality – but most of us can think back to a time we felt truly safe and secure and chances are this was a time littered with rituals.
Safe and secure are the opposite emotions of those leading to burnout. We feel overwhelmed like we’re constantly running to a goalpost we can’t see and with an unknown end date. That is the reality of a lot of jobs today, which is why it is so important to create these rest rituals. We can begin to create that sense of safety and security – even in the storm of it all. Best of all you get to decide what rest rituals work for you and your lifestyle:
Of course, joy is not useless. Joy, like all emotions, brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. So what I mean when I say ‘useless joy’ is finding and doing things for no purpose other than your joy. What a concept, I know! But as adults, how often do you do something because “it’s fun”? In fact, you can probably recall asking a child “why are you doing that?” and them replying with a variation of “just ’cause”, “because I like it” or “because it’s fun.” You probably looked at them like they lost their marbles when in reality YOU could afford to let go of some of yours and do something “just cause you feel like it.”
If you can’t think of what to do – here’s an idea: Pick a song you LOVE and dance or sing along to the whole song. Seriously it’s impossible for me to belt out “Walking on Sunshine” and not smile. Do yourself a favor, sneak to a private spot – driving down the road is mine – and just sing along! This is even a lyric video for you so you have no excuses. Once the song ends, notice how your entire mood is lifted.
Ah, the boundary talk. I know saying “no” feels like you’re being blasphemous, especially as a woman. But – like working any new muscle – I do promise it gets easier. Start small, possibly with polite “no, thank you” to less significant things – then start challenging yourself to train that no muscle on a weekly basis. As a high performer, it’s important for you to know that most of the successful people in the world say “no” to almost everything.
Read that again: Most of the most successful people say no to almost everything.
By saying no to those things that are not worth your precious time you are saying YES to what really matters and what really moves the needle.
If you answered yes to question 2 of the simple “am I burnt out?” questionnaire above, it’s abundantly clear to you that burnout shows up as much physically as it does mentally and emotionally. And often our body’s compromised immune system snowballs us down the scary dark hole described above. In order to stop that spiral in its tracks it’s important to prioritize gut health. The Gut Health Agency’s mission is to help high performers, just like you, to learn how to protect and nourish our gut through a holistic approach to gut health.
Or if you’re in need of some things you can do right now, the tips I highlighted in this blog will help.
Even if you are not experiencing burnout yourself, chances are you know of someone who is. Pass this blog along to your teams as well to ensure you all are performing at your best. And, because you deserve to have that well-earned vacation time and be present for every second of it.
Until next time loves
Chelsea interviews professionals to bring YOU today’s most updated knowledge on nutrition and wellness.