“I’m tired”, she said. “I just can’t seem to get out of bed in the morning, and I feel like I’m dragging all day long”.
Our culture thrives on more, faster, better, smarter, more motivated, more driven. We keep doing until we literally are going to drop. All of us want more energy, but we are unaware of the places that we might give our time and energy away — either by not resting and taking care of ourselves, or by saying “yes” more than we should. Our thyroid and adrenal glands (our hormone glands that keep us going despite this frenzied pace) are screaming for a break and a rest, and yet we keep pushing. Possibly we are afraid if we do stop and take good care of ourselves, we’ll be hearing all of the things we’ve been avoiding for the last little while. The real reasons we are here on this earth — the nagging self-awareness that might wake us up and get us to quit the job we hate, or stop answering the phone to that friend that really needs a therapist rather than our ear. The voice that connects us to our life’s purpose, or true passions, and the things that are the essence of a life well-lived.
As a naturopathic doctor I do focus on the body and supporting it getting back to wellness. However, what’s even more important to me the longer I work with people is making sure the mindset behind the frenzied activity changes. Otherwise, we’ll end up in exactly the same position that we started, repeating the same behaviours, and perhaps the second time we hit burnout the body is even more tired than it was to begin with. Our true selves are sick of us self-sacrificing when we should be taking a step back and self-assessing who we are and what the heck we want.
Mentally and emotionally, it’s important to take a good step back, a reset if you will. This reset should involve the following components:
- Alone time. For those of you who have trouble being alone, pop on some music. The music will give your busy mind some company while you sit and contemplate what you need.
- Water. Dehydration prevents you from thinking straight, and our body and mind need water!
- Cut down your caffeine. Despite your exhaustion, addition of more coffee or caffeinated green tea will make you feel jittery and your adrenal glands will rely on this false energy surge from spiked adrenaline for a time, but have you crashing harder than when you started.
- A journal. Start to write out your thoughts. It may help to know the many frenzied things going through your head, as maybe some of these worries or concerns can actually be tackled, and perhaps others are out of your control and you need to work on letting them go. Regardless, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. If you don’t know what’s going on in your body and mind and soul, it’s hard to find your way out of your concerns.
- Sleep. Please go to bed with the aim that you are getting at least 7 hours of rest. If you are unable to get sleep for 7 hours, perhaps that is where you begin. Sleep is paramount to healing and rejuvenation.
- Positive affirmations. When you’re completely exhausted and feeling beat down by the world, it’s tough to remember how amazing you are to do all you’re doing and how special you are, and how your gifts and talents are truly unique and should be celebrated. Write down all of the wonderful things about yourself. Initially this will be tough potentially, but watch how the list grows. It can be small, and positive thoughts can often help us to shift our focus into a “what is possible” mindset compared with “it’s all doomed and hopeless” mindset.
- Replenish nutrients. I’m a huge fan of herbal medicine for this purpose, and I have blogged about this before so take a gander of this post if you want to learn more. I can say B-complexes alone will not get you out of a burnout place, so if you’re reading this and were just about to take your B’s, know that you may need additional attention.
- Start paying attention to your body and respond to it. If you respond incorrectly, you’ll know and then you can make adjustments. For example, if doing exercise makes you feel energized but doing it six times a week makes you feel tired, cut back to a schedule that supports your energy but doesn’t deplete you. If you are having trouble with anxious thoughts and worrying, and that calms after yoga or pilates or painting, then emphasize the activities that support the calming of your mind until it improves. Make sense?
Above all, remember that because you are unique there is not going to be a specific template that you can follow to get you feeling better. These suggestions are just that — ideas that might trigger your own inner wisdom on the direction to head for your healing. Just keep paying attention, and get help when you need it.