Have you come back from your break and still feel burnt out? If you’ve been at work for a few weeks and feel as exhausted as you did last year, you may still be experiencing the full effects of burnout, writes naturopath, coach and wellness expert Vesna Hrsto.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) burnout is the result of chronic stress that has not been successfully addressed.
If you still wake up tired every morning, already behind on work, feeling emotionally exhausted and little things upset you, then you need a recovery plan.
Here are 5 tips to get you on the road to recovery from burnout
Step 1: Get enough sleep
Did you get enough sleep during your break? How often did you go to bed before 10 p.m. or stay up late? Virtually all areas of our health are affected by sleep deprivation. Good quality sleep speeds up recovery from burnout.
It’s not just the hours of sleep we get, but also when we go to sleep that’s important. Going to bed at 10 p.m. is best because it aligns with our circadian rhythm, which affects our appetite hormones, our ability to handle stress, energy production, and our recovery.
Eight to nine hours of sleep per night is the ideal place for optimal performance.
Be wary of devices before going to bed as they prevent proper restorative sleep; the kind that wakes you up feeling refreshed. Bedtime devices reduce our sleep hormone, melatonin, by 25%. Instead, wind down 30 minutes before bed and leave your smartphone, computer, or Netflix behind.
People who are at the top of peak performance control sleep.
Step 2: Taking time off helps, but it’s not the cure
There may be underlying (often hidden) reasons why we get burned out that can’t be solved by taking a break. Research on burnout has found a common trait among burnout victims: a drive to prove ourselves.
A client of mine, a mom and CEO with 200 employees in her company, realized she was a workaholic and got burned out trying to prove something to herself and others.
Years ago, when I started my first business, I worked long hours and had high expectations of myself to make it a success. This left lit’s time for self-care or even sleep well. It eventually caught up with me, although I didn’t realize it was a burnout.
Commitment to our company is great, but it’s the desire to prove yourself and your worth that predisposes you to burnout.
Ask yourself an important question: What motivates your work?
Tired factory worker sitting against a pallet
Step 3: A switch to nutrition
When we’re stressed and tired, we often don’t make the best food choices. Sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates can provide a quick energy hit and then an energy crash.
Lack of time can lead to more Uber food or meals eaten out of the house. Studies have shown that increased consumption of fast food is associated with burnout, and that healthy eating is protective.
The side effects of chronic stress are imbalances in our gut and microbiome, detoxification systems and hormones. When these systems are affected, it leads to more fatigue, mood swings and brain fog, and makes us feel worse.
An easy way to boost your diet for energy and mental clarity is to cook your meals at home to make sure you’re getting healthy ingredients. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, as they disrupt blood glucose levels, making our energy and mood go all over the place.
Step 4: Reduce mental stress
Burnout has a lot to do with the psychological stress we carry with us. The worries, concerns, and pressures of business can keep us on an emotional rollercoaster.
Business has its challenges; this is part of the game. Entrepreneurs need a recovery plan that takes care of them.
Take athletes as an example; they put the most intense stress on themselves, physically, mentally and emotionally, but they are champions. As former Olympic long-distance runner Deeana Kastor said, it was her self-care routine that made all the difference. Athletes master their self-care and recovery.
How many hours a day is your mind quiet, calm and peaceful? Most of my clients say they can be happy with an hour.
Chronic mental stress, or a mind that is overthinking and overanalyzing, filled with worry and negative thoughts, will have an impact on your energy, metabolism and recovery.
Limit mental stress at the end of the day by journaling, talking to a friend, and doing breathing exercises or yoga. Even a walk in nature can be helpful in relaxing the mind.
Practice has been shown to reduce anxiety and improves mood and mental well-being. Make time to move your body or exercise regularly.
Step 5: Listen to your gut
Chronic stress often affects our gut; the most common symptom is bloating or reflux. To absorb nutrients from our food for energy and recovery, we need to support gut health. The gut-brain axis is the communication between the gut and brain and vice versa, which affects our mood and mental well-being.
Support the gut through a healthy diet of vegetables to nourish the microbiome. Avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.
While it can be overwhelming to make many changes during a burnout, even implementing a few of the steps above can make a huge difference.