Put the Brakes on Burnout

After a lengthy recovery from burnout and what my doctor described as “flat-lined” adrenal glands, I’ve learned to be very attentive to my needs — to what (or who) zaps my energy, causes poor quality sleep or simply doesn’t serve me, my health or my happiness. Our current lifestyle expectations and demands certainly don’t make it easy though. There’s a trend occurring nowadays that is very disturbing and the outcome is sure to be disastrous; we’ve created a sense of heroism in pushing ourselves to the limit by:

  • Testing to see how little sleep we can actually function on (or should I say “dysfunction” on).
  • Shunning anything green on our plates but choosing instead to eat high amounts of grains and sugars in our diet – eventually the body turns on itself and all hell breaks loose because we’ve ignored every signal of it’s cries for not just food but for nutrition. We’re indeed “Digging our graves with our forks.”
  • Exercising in ways that severely deplete our energy, our muscle mass and overall health. As a yoga instructor, and of course as a health coach, I see this mistake being made daily by people who are already burning the candle on both ends. Work and social pressures are at an all time high, yet they insist on attending as many intense exercise classes (like hot flow-yoga or Zoomba classes) a week as they can possibly squeeze in, sometimes as often as two or more times a day. There’s an addictive high that comes with this trend but, as with anything, too much of a good thing is often a recipe for trouble.

Your adrenal glands are responsible for your “fight or flight” response – they pump out adrenalin so you can get the hell outta there if a bear is chasing you. But being under constant stress in the ways I just described above has those small, but oh-so-powerful hormone-balancing glands working waaaaay overtime. Eventually they burn out and we are left feeling like we hit a wall at 100 mph. PPHHWAAAP!!!

Here are some signs that troubles are a brewing:

  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Busy-brain and the inability to actually problem solve effectively.
  • Foggy thinking or difficulty remembering things.
  • Weight gain, belly-bloat or muffin top.
  • Mid-day slump where you’d give up your first-born child for a quick nap!
  • Lack of interest in lovemaking (i.e. your husband shaves his face before bed and you cringe at the idea of drumming up enough energy or interest in anything other than sleep).
  • Cravings for stimulants – such as caffeine (coffee, black tea, sodas, chocolate, etc.), or sugary, salty or fatty foods such as pastries, chips, etc.
  • Hair loss or, even worse ladies, hair growth on your chinny-chin-chin.

As I hope you know by now, I’m all about solutions, solutions, solutions so I’ll give you a few recommendations here — but if any of the above rings even a little bit true for you, please don’t wait until you are laying in a puddle of exhaustion to get more of my suggestions.

Solutions to hold you until you attend “Revive in 5”:

  • Try waking up without an alarm clock — but if that’s an idea that will keep you from sleeping all night, fearing you’ll oversleep, then dial your clock radio to a pleasant station rather than being jolted awake by an annoying buzz or heavy-rock station.
  • Don’t eat after 7:00 p.m. — you’ll not only burn fat more efficiently while you’re sleeping if your body’s not busy trying to digest foods but you’ll wake up much more energized (rather than feeling bloated all night and hung-over in the morning).
  • Do aerobic type exercises earlier in the day. For instance, the very latest you should be starting a hot-flow yoga practice is around 7:00 pm, ending by 8:30 pm MAX!  Give your body some time to settle your adrenalin flow down before bedtime (which if you listened to my “5 Zees to a Great Night’s Sleep” teleclass you know why bedtime should be around 10:00 or 10:30 pm NOT midnight … hint, hint … it involves melatonin production – your natural anti-cancer hormone).

Oftentimes we are misled to believe that Adrenal Fatigue or Burnout is a “women’s issue” but it definitely isn’t. As I mentioned earlier, we are simply not designed to be under the constant stress of today’s lifestyle. We’re paying the price by quietly brewing health issues as seemingly insignificant as joint or muscle pain to full on crises such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease. It doesn’t need to be like this, but in order to change anything we must first take ownership of our life and the choices we make —  it’s not necessarily easy of course, but oh my goodness it’s so worth it!

©2012 Nattacia Mantei