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Burn Out in a Modern Era and 7 Prevention Strategies

By Emma de Ferranti
from EDF Nutrition

Having worked in the corporate world and as a Yoga teacher and nutritionist I see the people suffering from burnout all the time. From breakdowns in the office to seeing the negative affects it has on peoples health. Whether it’s working yourself too hard to try and get that promotion, working multiple jobs to make ends meet or just trying to juggle working life and family life. Not noticing the warning signs of burnout can lead to more complicated health issues in the long run.

What is Burn Out?

For years burnout was not recognised as a syndrome. The World Health Organisation now recognises Burn Out as a syndrome adding it to ICD-11, it is classified as most commonly occurring from overworking yourself with:

  1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  2. increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  3. reduced professional efficacy.

Burn out doesn’t have to be associated with just your job. It can come from any prolonged stress and affect all areas of your life. It is common in new parents, students, athletes, those with demanding or multiple jobs. Burn out often comes to a head when the person cannot cope any longer, having an emotional/mental breakdown and/or physical breakdown with illness.

What are the early warning signs of burnout?

Burnout can occur slowly if stress is not managed well. Symptoms can be subtle and slowly compound the problem. You may not realise you are becoming burnt out until your crash. It can be caused by overextending yourself in work, study, family or even just not doing enough in life which sparks joy or gives you meaning. Some signs to look out for:

  1. Exhaustion – Feeling of constant fatigue that cannot be attributed to increasing physical labour/exercise.
  2. Physical pain or tension – We have all heard of tension headaches and people carrying their stress in their shoulders. These can be early signs of burnout, frequent headaches and physical muscle aches and pains can start to manifest and can even make the problem worse. Causing you to exercise less, leads to further issues with concentration or sleep.
  3. Lowered Immunity – Those who are experiencing frequent stress often have a lowered immune system, that is they frequently come down with colds and flus. This occurs because of the systemic inflammation the chronic stress causes and the possibly decreasing healthy choices the stressed individual is taking.
  4. Changes in appetite or eating habits – chronic stress can cause changes to your eating habits, either mindless snacking and making unhealthy food choices for comfort or by physically reducing your hunger. The flight or fight response can cause your body to
  5. Loss of joy or motivation – Often over working yourself can led to a loss of feeling joy for activities you used to enjoy. As your body gets stuck in this hyper stressed fight or flight state. This can often make the issue worse, making you reduce exercise, reach for bad foods and maybe withdraw socially; losing your support network.

How to prevent or overcome burnout?

We all know prolonged stress can wreak havoc on the body. Stress = Inflammation.  It is important to address it and try not to let it become chronic stress or burnout. Having a healthy work/study life balance and taking meaningful employment can all help to reduce burnout. Some tips to help manage your stress:

  1. Find ways to reduce stress – Practicing regular meditation or breathwork can help to regulate stress. Find time to pause and sit in stillness to help centre our minds, to help our minds process our thoughts. This can be anything from sitting outdoors with a cup of tea, taking a bath or meditating.
  2. Exercise – However you might practice this, walking, running, yoga, weights or through physical labour such as gardening or cleaning. We want to try to sweat through physical activity daily, just 20 minutes a day is enough to reap the benefits.
  3. Get a solid 7-8 hours sleep every night – Sleep is so important for managing our hormones, stress and metabolism. Regulating our sleep pattern, by removing excess caffeine, sugar; removing blue light and getting a decent length of sleep can help reduce cortisol and our stress for the next few days.
  4. Reduce processed food intake – These foods often laden with preservatives, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and highly refined oils and grains can not only impact our gut health but our mental health as well. As we all know now that the gut and brain are connected. If we eat poor quality foods leading to poor gut health this can impact our hormones, mood, sleep and stress. If you are already experiencing stress coming from your environment, poor food choices can reduce your ability to be able to deal with stressful situations.
  5. Increase exposure to sunlight – Vitamin D has a lot of positive effects on your health, from increasing energy, regulating hormones, reducing stress, fighting inflammation and boosting your immune system. Aim for at least 20 minutes of sun exposure each morning to help boost your vitamin D levels. If you can’t get this because of climate or shift work, a supplement may be needed.
  6. Increase intake of stress fighting foods – Focusing on getting some anti-inflammatory foods in your diet can help to combat the effects of stress. Foods such as berries high in antioxidants, fatty fish high in omega fatty acids and leafy greens high in folic acid and magnesium.
  7. Removing yourself from the situation or asking for help – If you are doing all of the above but are still chronically stressed, it might be the situation. If you can’t remove yourself from the stressful situation, asking for help from your boss, colleague, friends, family or a professional can help reduce the pressure and stress you may feel.

More about the author

Emma de Ferranti
Emma de Ferranti
– EDF Nutrition

Having struggled with my own gut health, fitness and general wellbeing as a teenager and into my early 20’s. I became fascinated with nutrition and a healthy lifestyle when I began yoga. This passion quickly evolved from living my healthiest life to helping others live their healthiest lives too. Health and wellbeing don’t have to be complicated or about following a strict diet or regime.

As everyone is unique, I work closely with my clients to help them reach their health and wellbeing goals. Whether its reducing allergy or autoimmune symptoms, repairing the gut or helping my clients reach their fitness or weight loss goals. I take a holistic approach looking at all factors that could be influencing my client's health from social, emotional, diet and lifestyle. I don’t just work with my clients to reach their goals; I work to arm them with enough information to continue on their health journey.