Q: What is the best way to recover from burnout?

Early in my career as an ND, I would have told you to drink more water, eat more protein, do more yoga and take a bunch of supplements. Notice a theme in this sentence…more. What I have learned in the last decade is that at the times we need to do the less the tendency is to do more. It is for this reason I have changed my approach in the initial treatments of adrenal
fatigue.

Patients suffering from burnout continue to come to me with a similar pattern, they have been to see their doctors and everything checks out as normal. They have been given notes to take a few weeks off and perhaps told to see a counsellor, in addition they receive medications to assist with sleep, managed aches and pains and moods. Although affirmed in their exhaustion and given a plan it feels empty, physically and mentally emotionally they know they need more support and more answers. So they end up in my office…

Often when I dig deep into the health history these symptoms have been present for many, many months to years. They have normalized the experience and tried to manage the problem by taking a vacation or a few extra sick days. But when we talk they begin to see a pattern of how each time the symptoms re-present themselves. They come back with more intensity and longer duration despite the efforts for self-care. The time or rest was helpful but guess what folks, nothing about life has changed, we enter back into a busy job, ageing parents, young children, long commutes, difficult winters etc…

Therefore, in order to truly recover and ultimately prevent another episode of adrenal fatigue the nervous system must be healed in a deeper way. Most of us need to re-learn the relaxation response as the very crucial first step in healing burnout. Much like we look at going to the gym to build muscle or taking a course to enhance a new skill, our nervous system requires a new way to be and we need help to learn how to access it.

What are some ways to teach our bodies to be less reactive:

  • Acceptance without blame or shame -just call it like it is, beyond I am stressed, use words like I feel tense, I am on edge, I am craving sugar…
  • Breathing and meditation -start with 1 minutes of deep inhale and exhale each morning, build in simple breathing techniques throughout the day
  • Understanding when you are in your reactive state -feel when you are trigger and return to acceptance and breath (this WILL happen multiple times every hour)
  • Get help and support to learn this new way of being -you don’t have to do this alone, if you knew how and it was effectively taught and nurtured throughout your life, you would not be in a burnout situation

In summary, you have been told that more is better for your whole frigging life and we are still being bombarded with that message. So of course, why wouldn’t we assume that even our healing journeys require more. But it’s time to push back on this belief, in order to heal we need to let go and trust. We are becoming survival of the nurtured and you are not being left behind with this new way of thinking. In fact you are evolving not only for you, for your family, for your community but for humanity at large.