The first time I experienced burnout was during my early uni days. The party scene was relentless, all nighters were the norm, and caffeine was mandatory. I had a serious case of FOMO and despite my body craving rest and sleep, I would drag myself all over town- from one commitment, or party, to another. My big wake-up call came when I had a panic attack and though my life was coming to an end. These panic attacks started to increase in frequency, and despite not having any knowledge of adrenal fatigue, I instinctively knew my body my screaming at me to slow down. It was my first taste of burnout, and also luckily for me, meeting my little friend – intuition.
Fast forward 10 years when I became a mum. I would wake up in the morning with the worst hangover, without even having a drop the night before (oh, the irony). I was so focused on my kids and their well being that I completely ignored all signs of adrenal fatigue and it wasn’t until I saw my naturopath that things fell into place. A huge cloud lifted, and my healing journey began.
We’ve all experienced periods of fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, stress, anxiety, depression and a tendency to procrastinate from time to time. But when it’s ongoing, you may be in the burnout zone.
My top tips for overcoming burnout are….
1. Listen to your body – Your body is incredibly knowledgeable and will often tell you what it needs. My body craved sleep, and there were many times that I would wake up, and 5 mins later be dreaming about going to bed that night. This can prove challenging with sleep adverse children, but prioritising it became number one on my agenda (co-sleeping for the win). This has meant going to bed often at ridiculously early times, but it has given my body a chance to heal which is essential for overcoming burnout.
2. Ask for help – My perfectionistic tendencies found this hard as I like to do things my way and I’ve always considered asking for help a sign of weakness. However, I relented and enlisted the help of family, friends and my husband for babysitting (yes, I even found it hard to ask him for help), so that I could catch up on much needed sleep, read a book, or just leave the house for a couple of hours. It takes a tribe after all.
3. Give up alcohol and coffee for a period of time – During days of crippling fatigue it was so tempting to turn to alcohol or caffeine for that hit of energy, but my nervous system was already on high alert and I didn’t want to exacerbate it. I’ve been able to re- introduce alcohol, in moderation, but coffee still isn’t all that into me, despite plenty of reintroductions 🙁
4. Create boundaries – I learnt to live by the quote
“Love yourself enough to create boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept”.
For me this meant that I learnt to say no to anything or anyone that would deplete my energy, which therefore meant that I was saying YES to me. Huge lessons in self love which is so important when one is healing from burnout.
5) Incorporate things daily that nourish your soul – When you do more of what you love, your body, mind and soul thank you for it. This for me meant spending more time in nature. My dream is to live in a house in the country side so I decided to bring the country side to me with the addition of 3 chooks and a veggie patch. I love reading fiction novels so I’ve made that a priority too.
6) Herbal medicine – I love my herbs, and a customised herb mix with its nourishing qualities and slow release of energy, certainly helped me get through the rough patches. I believe however, that these herbs will ONLY work if you slow down and incorporate the mental, emotional and spiritual ground work as well.
7) Nutritional supplements – Although my preferred source of getting nutrients is through food and herbs, occasionally additional help is required. My copper/zinc ratio is way off (common with adrenal fatigue) so I’ve been undertaking a nutritional program to balance this out. B vitamins and Magnesium have also been instrumental to my healing journey
Overcoming adrenal burnout requires a multifaceted approach and it’s certainly not an overnight process. However, with bucket loads of patience, self love and self care, you’ll definitely be on your way.