I vividly remember the day I made the difficult decision to take a leave of absence from work. The weight of anxiety and fear settled upon me as I contemplated the implications of my decision. I was plagued by thoughts of disappointing my colleagues, feeling as though I was letting them down by stepping away from my responsibilities. The pressure to constantly prove my worth and dedication had become ingrained in my identity, making it even harder to detach from the work that consumed me. Yet, deep down, I knew that I had reached a breaking point, and taking this leave of absence was necessary for my well-being and recovery.
When I finally stepped away and allowed myself to pause, the impact of burnout hit me hard. I was physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and felt a profound sense of emptiness. Many days were spent lying in bed unable to function, frustrated and confused. What was intended to be a short leave ended up being a yearlong journey of recovery…which I’m still navigating.
In this blog post, I want to share the modalities that played a pivotal role in my journey to recovery from burnout. These methods offered me profound insights and effective tools to regain my energy and mental clarity.
By sharing my personal experiences and the methods that helped me heal, I hope to inspire and guide professional women like you who are seeking effective solutions for burnout. Together, we can embark on a journey of recovery, reclaim our energy, and find a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in both our personal and professional lives.
The Importance of Addressing Burnout & Finding Effective Solutions
Experiencing burnout is not a sign of weakness but a reflection of our relentless pursuit of success and neglecting our well-being in the process. It affects countless professional women like us who constantly juggle demanding careers, family responsibilities, and personal aspirations. The consequences of burnout can be severe, impacting not only our work performance but also our relationships, physical health, and overall quality of life. Recognizing the importance of addressing burnout is the first step towards reclaiming our energy, health, and purpose.
Curious about your burnout levels? Take my quick Burnout Detector Quiz.
Understanding Corporate Burnout
Corporate burnout is a state of chronic physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged work-related stress. It goes beyond the usual feelings of tiredness and overwhelms every aspect of our being. Burnout has a significant affect not only on your physical and mental well-being but also your career trajectory.
Common symptoms of burnout include:
- Persistent fatigue
- Decrease in mental clarity/difficulty concentrating
- Reduced motivation and productivity
- Increased irritability and cynicism
- Brain fog
- Sense of detachment from work and personal life
- Weight gain/Inability to lose weight
- Muscle tension
It’s important to recognize these signs early on to prevent further deterioration.
Methods That Worked For Me
To heal it is essential to address the root causes of burnout…chronic STRESS! Reducing all forms of stress brings the body back into homeostasis allowing it to heal itself. Focusing on these foundations of wellness helped reduce stress and repairs the body in a way that doesn’t cause further strain.
Stress Management Techniques
Understanding that the root cause of burnout is stress, I quickly realized that pinpointing and reducing those stressors in my life that I can control was a top priority. It was crucial for me to identify the sources of stress that had contributed to my burnout and take proactive steps to address them.
I tried various stress management techniques to find what worked best for me, ensuring consistency and long-term success. Walking along the beach, immersing myself in the calming sound of the waves, and feeling the sand beneath my feet brought a sense of tranquility and mental clarity. Engaging in activities like coloring provided a meditative and creative outlet, allowing my mind to unwind and focus on the present moment. Guided meditation became a daily practice that helped me cultivate mindfulness and reduce anxiety.
Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I learned to recognize and challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that were contributing to my stress levels and perpetuating negative patterns. By becoming more aware of my internal dialogue, I could identify distorted thinking and reframe it in a more balanced and realistic way. This practice empowered me to cultivate a more positive mindset and reduce unnecessary stress.
Additionally, I embraced the importance of listening to my body and honoring its need for rest. Resting and sleep became essential components of my stress management routine. I learned to prioritize quality restful sleep, creating a conducive sleep environment and establishing a soothing bedtime routine. I allowed myself to pause and recharge when needed, recognizing that pushing myself beyond my limits would only hinder my recovery.
Nutrition as a Foundation of Healing
As a Functional Nutritionist, I understand the significance and influence of nutrient-dense, organic, whole foods on our health. Fortunately, my diet already consisted of wholesome, unprocessed foods that supplied the necessary nutrients for healing. However, I grew frustrated when I didn’t see the expected recovery progress. In my frustration, I began experimenting with various fad or so-called “anti-fad” diets, unknowingly subjecting myself to additional stress. It was then that I realized the importance of returning to the practice of listening to my body and honoring its unique needs.
I’ve come to appreciate the significance of finding the right balance of macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fats – to support our unique bio-individuality. Each macronutrient plays a crucial role in our bodily functions and overall well-being. It’s important not to eliminate any food group entirely when you are trying to recover. Instead, I encourage you to focus on finding the right balance that works for you. Experiment with different ratios and observe how your body responds. Pay attention to your energy levels, digestion, mood, and overall vitality. By honoring your bio-individuality and finding the ideal macro balance, you can provide your body with the necessary fuel to thrive.
Tracking Food & Symptoms:
One useful app I found to track and find your ideal macronutrient ratio is Cronometer. Additionally, it provides information on various micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, allowing you to identify any potential deficiencies.
In addition to tracking your nutrient intake, keeping a Food & Symptom Diary can be incredibly beneficial. This diary allows you to document not only what you eat but also how it impacts your energy levels, mood, digestion, and overall well-being. By noting any symptoms or reactions you experience after consuming certain foods, you can identify potential food sensitivities or intolerances that are causing additional stress to your body. Over time, patterns may emerge, empowering you to make informed choices and create a personalized, nourishing diet that alleviates stress and supports your burnout recovery.
Blood Sugar Regulation:
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels throughout the day is crucial for sustaining energy and avoiding energy crashes. In the typical office environment, filled with back-to-back meetings, urgent projects, and late nights, it can be challenging to prioritize blood sugar regulation. I faced this obstacle firsthand and knew I needed to find a solution. I started by meal prepping and stocking my office with healthy snacks, hoping to stay on top of my nourishment. However, the reality was that I often got so caught up in my work that I would forget to eat. By the time 3 o’clock rolled around, I found myself relying on another cup of coffee to function, only adding to my stress.
During my year of recovery, I recognized the importance of consciously nourishing myself with regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. Each meal consisted of a combination of complex carbohydrates, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, allowing for a steady release of glucose into my bloodstream. This approach prevented the drastic spikes and drops in blood sugar, which in turn helped me maintain consistent energy levels and improved my mood stability. By eliminating the stress caused by these fluctuations, I regained a sense of control over my energy and overall well-being.
Digestion & Nutrient Absorption:
One crucial strategy I discovered for supporting digestion and optimizing nutrient absorption was getting into a relaxed state before eating. As someone who often ate on-the-go or while multitasking, I realized the detrimental impact this had on my digestive process. Stress and distraction can hinder proper digestion, so I made it a priority to create a calm environment before meals. Taking a few deep breaths, setting aside any distractions, and creating a peaceful ambiance helped me shift into a relaxed state, allowing my body to focus on the important task of digestion.
Another important aspect of supporting digestion is taking the time to eat and properly chew my food. I used to rush through meals, barely giving my body a chance to process what I was consuming. This rushed eating habit led to digestive stress such as; bloating, discomfort, and poor nutrient absorption. To address this, I began practicing mindful eating. I made a conscious effort to slow down, chew each bite thoroughly, and savor the flavors and textures of my food.
Additionally, chronic stress can reduce stomach acid levels, impairing the breakdown of foods and nutrient absorption. To address this issue, I supplemented with stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCL) and digestive enzymes. This supplement helped support my body in producing an adequate amount of stomach acid and enzymes, ensuring that the foods I consumed were properly broken down and digested. It made a significant difference in my digestion and nutrient absorption, helping me extract the maximum benefits from the foods I ate.
Restoring Balance Through Minerals
Minerals are essential to our health and are the ‘spark plugs’ of life. They are involved in many biochemical reactions and play a role in many physiological processes. Minerals play a role in energy production, hormone balance, blood pressure, cognitive function and our resilience to stress.
Stress, especially chronic stress, can deplete essential minerals in our bodies. The continuous release of stress hormones can disrupt our mineral absorption, utilization, and excretion processes, further exacerbating the imbalances. Understanding the intricate relationship between stress and minerals was a pivotal realization on my journey to recovering from burnout.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of my mineral status and identify specific imbalances, I turned to Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA). This non-invasive test provided valuable insights into the levels and ratios of minerals in my body, shedding light on any deficiencies or excesses that may be contributing to my brain fog and overall burnout. The detailed results helped me formulate a targeted approach to correct these imbalances. For more information on HTMA and its benefits, be sure to check out my dedicated blog post on this topic.
Armed with the knowledge from my HTMA results, I tailored my approach to restore the key minerals that were imbalanced in my body. I incorporated various methods including a food first approach and supplements to replenish these essential minerals.
Re-Engaging with Movement
When I hit rock bottom with burnout, the concept of movement seemed counterintuitive. I was physically and mentally drained, and the thought of exercising felt overwhelming. As time passed, I noticed my weight increasing, which further contributed to my anxiety, depression, and lowered self-esteem.
However, reaching my breaking point, at my heaviest weight, compelled me to push myself to re-engage with exercise and redefine what movement meant for me. It was crucial to approach exercise with caution, considering the state of my exhausted body. Pushing myself too hard would only worsen the symptoms of burnout. Instead, I had to adapt and explore alternative forms of exercise that focused on restoration and gentle movement.
I began by incorporating gentle stretching routines and taking short walks around my neighborhood. On days when gathering energy was challenging, I turned to other techniques such as utilizing the infrared sauna and fascia blasting. These methods provided rejuvenation and relief without overwhelming my fatigued system. As I progressed in my recovery journey, I started incorporating more cardio exercises on the bike at my neighborhood gym and engaging in short weight training sessions to rebuild my muscles.
These activities allowed me to reconnect with my body, release tension, and restore energy without adding additional stress to my already depleted system. By embracing more restorative forms of exercise, movement became a source of rejuvenation rather than another burden to bear.
Reflecting on the transformative journey of recovering from corporate burnout and regaining my passion has been a rollercoaster of emotions. There were countless moments of tears and sadness as I navigated through the darkest depths of burnout. It was a frustrating experience when others couldn’t fully comprehend what I was going through, leading to questioning and judgments about what was “wrong” with me. But through it all, I emerged stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.
In sharing my personal journey, I hope to inspire and support professional women who are currently battling burnout.
If you resonate with my experiences and are looking for guidance in your own recovery journey, I invite you to connect with me as a functional nutrition practitioner. Together, we can explore personalized strategies to address the underlying imbalances and nourish your body back to optimal health. Schedule a free consultation and take the first step towards reclaiming your energy, passion, and joy.
Remember, there is light at the end of the burnout tunnel, and I am here to support you every step of the way!