BLOG 217: THE 3 SIGNS OF BURNOUT AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEMJun 01, 2023
If you’ve been around here a while, you may know that I started my career as a relaxation therapist and yoga teacher which quickly led me to create the Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method. And the reason I chose to specialise initially in those fields was that I had seen first-hand what stress and burnout can do to our health.
Shortly after I graduated from University with a first class honours degree in Education and English, I became very ill with the chronic illness of ME and was essentially bed-bound due to severe pain and fatigue. Years of stress and driving myself to achieve perfection along side a virus had taken their toll on my health which led to this illness. I healed myself through holistic wellness modalities and was fully recovered in just over a year.
Someone who has a similar story to mine is Rosie Millen, otherwise known as Miss Nutritionist. A few years ago, Rosie was walking in the park when she unexpectedly collapsed. She went home, went to bed – and stayed there for 3 years, battling chronic exhaustion.
Mainstream doctors told her she was depressed, but she consulted other health practitioners and was eventually diagnosed with severe burnout.
Like me, Rosie was someone who pushed herself hard. She worked at lightning speed, said yes to everything, and describes herself as a typical Type A perfectionist. She ignored all the signs that she was getting stressed and overwhelmed.
Reaching the point of total burnout forced Rosie to reassess everything. She changed her diet, took a hard look at who and what was causing stress in her life, and did a lot of work on her mindset to move away from comparison and negative thinking.
Slowly, she got back on her feet and is now fully recovered. She’s an authority on nutrition and burnout, a published author, and is launching the UK’s first mental well-being festival, Go Mental.
Speaking to Rosie again got me thinking about how we all need to get better at recognising when stress is coming close to overwhelming us. So, I’m sharing some of the advice that came out of our latest podcast episode here on the blog too.
THE 3 SIGNS OF BURNOUT
We all experience stress in our daily lives. But when that stress becomes overwhelming and we’re continuously under pressure, it puts us at risk of burnout.
As you can see from Rosie and my stories, burnout is no joke. It doesn’t just affect your mental health, but your physical health too.
Until you’ve experienced that level of chronic exhaustion, it is hard to understand just how severely it affects your life. Rosie describes how she could barely lift her head off the pillow, had to crawl to the bathroom, and could only make it out of bed and onto the sofa on her best days (the same experience as I had).
Both Rosie and I managed to turn our lives around and discovered how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. But you don’t need to wait until your health is in danger before you make changes in your own life.
The first step is learning how to recognise when you are getting overwhelmed and putting yourself at risk of burnout. Stress is such a constant in many of our lives that we don’t always realise how bad it is getting.
3 SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR ARE:
1. FEELING FRAZZLED
If you always feel like you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with things, find yourself getting impatient or snappy, or are always rushed, this is a sign that stress is getting out of control.
Another warning sign to look out for is feeling constantly tired. You might experience brain fog, have trouble focusing, or struggle to remember everything you need to do. You may also notice that your sleep is disrupted.
3. NEGATIVE MINDSET
A third sign to be aware of is your mindset. If you are always comparing yourself with others and feeling like you need to do more, more, more to keep up, this can be an indicator that you’re approaching burnout.
HOW TO OVERCOME OVERWHELM BEFORE YOU BURNOUT
If you are noticing these signs, or just generally feeling stressed out on a regular basis, there are some simple things you can try to re-find your balance.
1. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
First, Rosie recommends taking regular breaks throughout your day. So many of us are go, go, go all the time and we don’t allow ourselves any space to catch our breath and refresh.
Being busy is not a badge of honour and trying to keep up that frantic pace can lead to overwhelm and burnout. So, set an alarm on your phone for every hour of your working day. Get up, leave the room, get yourself some water or a cup of herbal tea, and then come back.
Even just this small 60 second break every hour can make a huge difference to your energy levels at the end of the day. It is a chance to rest and reset.
2. TAKE TIME OUT
As the popular quote says, “You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick”.
Getting away from your usual environment can give you the time you need to rest and recharge. For example, Rosie will usually take advantage of her weekends to go on an adventure day, when she escapes London and gets out into nature.
She calls it “Green Time” – an opportunity to allow your adrenal glands time to reset.
Calming activities like meditation and yoga (and face yoga!) also qualify as Green Time. Rosie uses a traffic light system in her book to help us think about different sorts of activities.
Red activities are those go, go, go activities. Full days of work without a break. Intensive events that require us to be “on” all the time. Working out multiple times a day.
Amber activities are the slightly calmer daily tasks, like running errands, doing household chores, meeting friends for lunch.
And we’ve already covered green activities – the ones that offer us a chance to rest, relax, and recharge.
The ideal balance will look different for everyone. Some of us might be well-resourced enough to have a higher number of red and amber activities. Others will need to keep the level lower. But all of us need plenty of green activities to keep us balanced and healthy.
3. NOURISH YOUR BODY
Diet can also make a huge difference to how we cope with stress. When our bodies are properly nourished, we feel more resilient and have higher levels of energy.
Make sure you eat regularly and are getting enough calories. Take supplements where needed to resolve any deficiencies you have. Minimise sugar and alcohol. Use caffeine mindfully – too much can leave us jittery and anxious.
Rosie likes to talk about the 80/20 rule with her clients. 80% of the time, we aim to eat healthily, avoid sugar and alcohol, and opt for nutrient-dense foods that support our physical and mental health.
The other 20% of the time, we give ourselves permission to be less than perfect. We enjoy a glass of wine, eat a piece of chocolate cake, stay up a bit later than we really should.
This is a much more achievable balance than trying to be perfect all the time.
4. LIVE YOUR VALUES
I’ve saved the most important point for last, but this really resonated with me. Rosie talked about the importance of connecting with our core values and making sure that what we do day-to-day is in alignment with them.
You can have the perfect healthy lifestyle, do everything right, and still feel miserable and unfulfilled if you aren’t connected to those core values.
It is also important to realise that your values will change throughout your life. Many of us find ourselves on a path that was right for us at one point in our lives but is no longer right because our values have shifted – and often this is when we end up experiencing overwhelm and burnout.
For example, Rosie’s values were once financial security, inspiration, making an impact, success, and reputation. Now, they’ve shifted, and her core values are kindness, generosity, nature, and healing. Her work and life needed to shift too so that they reflect her new values.
This is something my husband Bruce and I talk about a lot in our business. If one of us is feeling stressed, I’ll go “OK, why are we doing these things? Because we want our future to be full of freedom, wellness, and abundance. But why are we waiting for the future? Let’s think about how we can experience those things more right now.”
I believe that we should never work ourselves to the bone in the present so that we can have the things we want in 10, 20 years. But when we look more closely, we realise we can bring more of what we want into our lives right now.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have goals and to plan a future that excites and inspires you. It just shouldn’t come at the expense of your enjoyment of your life in the present.
If this resonates with you and you want to explore more of how you can build a business that aligns with your core values and helps you achieve the life you want right now – as well as in the future – you might find the Soul Purpose Business Course Bundle inspiring.
In it, I share everything I’ve learned through 18 years of building a successful wellness brand and show you how you can do the same without resorting to long hours or hustle culture. Find out more here.