Hello Friends, with all of the stresses of modern adult life, we can quickly become stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. This overall feeling of being tired, stressed and worn down can eventually accumulate and lead to a feeling of apathy and wanting to quit, also known as burnout. What is burnout you might ask? Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that can zap the joy out of your career, friendships, and family interactions. Continual exposure to stressful situations, like caring for an ill family member, working long hours, or witnessing upsetting news related to politics and school safety can lead to this stress condition. Burnout, however, isn’t always easy to spot. Coined by the psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, burnout describes a severe stress condition that leads to severe physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Much worse than ordinary fatigue, burnout makes it challenging for people to cope with stress and handle their day-to-day responsibilities. People experiencing burnout often feel like they have nothing left to give and may dread getting out of bed each morning. They may even adopt a pessimistic outlook toward life and feel hopeless. Burnout doesn’t go away on its own and, if left untreated, it can lead to serious physical and psychological illnesses like depression, heart disease, and diabetes. I have found some effective strategies and helpful tools in not only preventing burnout but also ways to intervene and get out of it if you or someone you know is struggling.
First of all you need to know how to spot the signs and symptoms of burnout, whether you yourself is experiencing it or someone you know and care about. Keep an eye out for some of the following signs. We all feel tired and worn out from time to time but extreme levels of fatigue can lead to exhaustion. Exhaustion can be defined as feeling physically and emotionally depleted, and people experiencing exhaustion will likely exude physical symptoms including headaches, stomachaches, and appetite or sleeping deprivation. People experiencing burnout will also tend to isolate themselves. They will tend to feel overwhelmed, as a result, they may stop socializing and confiding in friends, family members, and co-workers. They may also start talking about escape fantasies like talking about running away or going on a solo-vacation and in extreme cases, they may turn to drugs, alcohol, or food as a way to numb their emotional pain. They will also tend to be extremely irritable. Burnout can cause people to lose their cool with friends, co-workers, and family members more easily. Coping with normal stressors like preparing for a work meeting, driving kids to school, and tending to household tasks also may start to feel insurmountable, especially when things don’t go as planned. Finally if left untreated long enough, burnout can lead to frequent illness as the stress levels and exhaustion start to wear someone’s immune system down. These frequent illnesses can also lead to even further levels of depression and anxiety.
Burnout can be some tough and scary stuff so it’s helpful to be able to recognize it when you see it but most importantly you want to try to prevent it. It’s no shocker here, but as I mention in most of my articles, the core basics of diet, exercise, and sleep can really be your greatest allies in maintaining healthy stress levels and a healthier overall balance in life (and thus avoiding burnout). I have also found it extremely helpful to supplement your diet with ingredients that can help your brain and maintain good energy levels without stimulants. One of these ingredients is Alpha-Glycerylphosphorycholine (or Alpha-GPC). It has been clinically proven (in a Jan 2017 study) to improve neurological function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, giving your brain more stimulant-free energy, leading to better productivity and lessening the likelihood of excessive stress buildup and the potential for burnout. When paired with a healthy diet it can make a significant difference in your daily brain function and productivity levels. It is also important to have someone you can talk to whether it be a therapist, friend or family member and take good care of your mental health.
If you or someone you are trying to help has employed these practices and is still struggling then it is time to intervene. Here are some helpful strategies for helping and supporting someone suffering from burnout. First and foremost, listen. Before jumping into “fixing” mode, offer to listen to your friend or family member’s difficulties. Having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. Often people need someone to witness their stress and suffering, and listening can go a long way. You also want to validate their feelings and concerns. When friends and family members are feeling the effects of burnout, saying It doesn’t sound that bad or I’m sure things will get better, while meant to offer reassurance, can feel invalidating if someone is really feeling low and hopeless. Instead, offer validation by saying, “You’ve been working so hard, I can understand why you feel depleted.” You also might want to offer different types of support. Individuals who are burnt out are often too tired to think of ways that others can help them. Instead of asking, “How can I help?” offer to drop off a meal, pick up dry cleaning, or do a load of laundry. It can also go a long way to simply perform some kind gestures like sending flowers, a thoughtful text message, or a written card can remind friends and family members that they’re not alone. People with burnout can feel lonely and underappreciated but small gestures of kindness can be nurturing. Sometimes people will simply need professional help that you can’t offer and it can be very helpful to recommend someone for them or do some research for them to find help that can seem incredibly overwhelming for them.
To review, being exposed to continual stress can cause us to burnout. Feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and isolating from friends and family members can be some of the signs. However, eating a balanced diet supplemented with energy boosting-brain healthy ingredients in addition to regular exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep may prevent this stressed state. Burnout can be avoided by making self-care part of your daily routine. Even if you’re working long hours, studying for exams, or taking care of young children, remember to sprinkle some joy into each day. If we focus on our health, physical and emotional, we can help ourselves and each other avoid these overwhelming stressful states and live our best lives!
Stay well my friends, until next time.
Scott Solomon is a former collegiate and NFL athlete and the co-founder and CEO of BrainTree Nutrition. He is passionate about helping people live their happiest and healthiest lives. Through meticulous research and an unwavering commitment to transparency, quality and honesty, he and the entire team at BrainTree believe they have created some of the best and most effective supplements on the market. Please visit braintreenutrition.com to learn more.