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Recognizing the Signs Of Burnout + How Our ND's Can Help

Let's chat burnout, because we're seeing this increasingly in practice. Burnout is most commonly associated with work, but in the era of technology that has us connected at any/all times, the line of what is causing burnout is blurring. 

Are you feeling apathetic, anxious or depressed, unsettled, wiped of all energy, or lacking social energy? Needing coffee or sugar+refined carbohydrates to give you that morning boost or keep you going throughout the day? Finding yourself unable to complete even the smallest tasks or taking a long time to complete a small task? You may be experiencing the effects of chronic stress and burnout. Other symptoms of burnout include:

  • exhaustion / fatigue
  • insomnia or trouble staying asleep
  • brain fog
  • memory issues
  • frequent colds + flus
  • anxiety / depression
  • weight gain or loss
  • PMS symptoms
  • skin concerns
  • cravings for sugar + salt

Most people understand that stress is not good for us, especially chronic or prolonged - but we want to deep dive exactly why elevated and prolonged stress levels are especially problematic for our health and how we take a naturopathic + holistic approach to supporting patients experiencing burnout and help prevent it!

what is the difference between stress, chronic stress, and burnout?

S T R E S S. To some degree, our bodies do expect stress. Our stress response is an adaptive mechanism that supports us by releasing cortisol to help us either fight or flight from a dangerous situation. Cortisol is our primary stress hormone made by the adrenal glands. It is regulated by the HPA axis, which connects our adrenals to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in our brain. When we experience a stressful event our HPA axis directs the adrenals to increase cortisol output, causing blood glucose levels to rise and stimulates our fight-or-flight response! 

What is fight or flight? This is when the body re-allocates it's efforts and energies. It turns OFF functions that aren’t helpful in an immediate life-or-death situation (think digestion, immune response, reproductive function) relying on the HPA axis to restore balance when the stressful event is over.

C H R O N I C  S T R E S S. The effects of stress are cumulative, and when we experience chronic (long-term) stress, we build resistance to our natural cortisol fluctuations. This makes it more difficult for the HPA axis to bring the body back to normal - remember how we said the body diverts energy away from functions it deems non-essential during times of stress? Well, prolonged, it still does this, causing certain organs and systems to receive less energy and nutrients due to chronic elevated stress levels.

 

Remember that chronic stress manifests differently for everyone. This is why determining the root cause of any health concerns is critical, to make sure we treat stress at the root over treating individual downstream symptoms that it is causing!

 

B U R N O U T. Simply put, burnout is the result of prolonged elevated stress levels that causes a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. Ultimately, what we see the impacts on mood, immunity, sleep quality, hormone levels, digestive function, and more! 

The important consideration here is that if we are constantly stressed, when does this process truly end for our organs and systems? This is when our adrenals can become fatigued from consistent output of cortisol, which is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis. Learn more about Adrenal Fatigue here! 

 

how do ND's treat burnout?

At EASTND, we work to treat the root cause of your health concerns to have you feeling your best in a sustainable way. We look to naturopathic treatments, supplementation, nutrition, and lifestyle to support those experiencing burnout.

NATUROPATHIC TREATMENTS + SUPPLEMENTATION

We love supplementation, IV Vitamin Drip treatments, and Acupuncture to support burnout.

Acupuncture helps replenish organs that are depleted by stress, removing any blockages that are causing symptoms which essentially reminds the body how it can effectively heal itself to keep us healthy!

We see profound change with IV Vitamin Drips, because a major piece when we chat burnout is stress management and nutrient repletion. By flooding the cells with critical nutrients for optimal health, this allows your body to effectively re-balance hormones and have the nutrient levels it needs to thrive and repair any imbalances caused by prolonged stress.

We look into blood markers such as vitamin D, B12, and iron as low levels of each all manifest as fatigue, and work to replete these levels as well as target supplementation to maintain levels nutrients. Supplements we can look to are:

  • Adaptogens: adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to stressors, both physical and mental. it has the ability to calm and restore balance if needed, or provide us energy if needed to help adapt to the effects of stress to improve cognitive function and boost energy levels. we opt for adaptogens that can benefit the adrenals such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Cordyceps mushroom.
  • Omega fatty acids (fish oil): omega fatty acids act on our central nervous system, meaning that they can support reduction in anxiety and stress at the source. research also shows that adequate levels of these fatty acids can decrease adrenal response when unnecessary to diminish effects of chronic stress and promote balance.
  • L-theanine: this amino acid supports relaxation, helps reduce stress, and supports reducing anxiety. L-theanine can be found in a good quality matcha as well!
  • B-complex: B vitamins are majorly drained during times of stress, so replenshing these levels will not only support your body's recovery but will help you feel much better!
  • Magnesium: also depleted during times of stress, magnesium helps us to calm down and helps promote more restful sleeps.
  • Vitamin C: a major antioxidant vitamin, this helps to clear any oxidants created by our stress levels.

NUTRITION

Cortisol has a natural circadian rhythm much as your sleep cycle does: Levels are highest in the morning, which helps you get out of bed and get moving, and lowest in the evening, when it’s time to rest. What, how, and when you eat plays a major role in regulating cortisol and maintaining a healthy cortisol rhythm, so eating at regular times throughout the day and allowing no more than 3-4 hours between meals is very helpful!

  • Start the day with a breakfast that supports stable blood sugar levels. This looks like low sugar + high protein, with lots of healthy fats and fiber.

  • Have a larger lunch. Making lunch the biggest meal of the day can be a big support - look for protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and vegetables.

  • Eat a lighter supper, earlier in the evening. Try to allow at least three hours between eating supper and going to bed to give the body time to digest + allow natural cortisol levels to decrease.
  • Aim for variety + abundance of vegetables and adequate protein. Complete sources of protein provide the full spectrum of amino acids, and most animal sources have better bioavailability meaning they are more easily absorbed. For vegans/vegetarians, combining beans + rice creates a complete protein meal, or non-GMO organic soy products in moderation!

  • Reduce intake of caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. These foods are easy to become dependent on and contribute to inflammation levels that cause stress in the body.

LIFESTYLE

  • Prioritize sleep. Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of cortisol, more irritability, and dependence on stimulants to get through the day.

  • Make effort to remove unnecessary stressors. Sometimes these are unavoidable but if it's possible to tune out negative energies and stressors, do it!

  • Schedule free time and activities that you truly enjoy. This can be anything - painting, reading novels, journaling, self-care, getting outside, anything!

  • Move daily + get outside. Sometimes a quick workout video or a walk outside is medicinal! But, the right type of movement is critical here. Exercise does ultimately create some stress in the body as muscles push to finish a workout. This is great if it is a few times per week, but everyday will overtime cause the adrenals to fatigue and contribute to burnout. Opting for more gentle movement like yoga, outdoor walks, and hiking can help the body slow down and soak up some nature time. 

  • Develop a mindfulness practice. Research shows that meditation can effectively decrease our cortisol level, and help improve our circadian rhythm for better sleeps! Mindfulness can also look like breath work or being fully present and engaging the senses in an experience such as while eating, or going for a walk outside! 

Remember that stress is inevitable in today's world, but it's how we equip ourselves and support our bodies in combatting that stress that can make a world of difference! If you think that you're experiencing the effects of chronic stress or burnout, our ND's can help - reach out to us today!

M O N C T O N : [email protected] // (506) 830-8333 // Click Here to Contact Moncton

C H A R L O T T E T O W N : [email protected] // (902) 367-5300 // Click Here to Contact Charlottetown

 

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