Surviving Burnout: How to Restore Balance in Your Life
Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Let’s face it: We’re all busy, dealing with endless to-do lists and struggling to balance it all. The result is often a day-to-day life that feels too hectic. We feel pulled away from the things that matter - and we may have even forgotten what those things are.
Many people find their way to Advanced Health & Wellness at a time in their lives where they feel compelled to take charge of their wellbeing before it gets out of control. Perhaps they’re experiencing health problems that they just can’t shake, or they are ready to take their health to the next level because they know their health is their best asset. By seeking the kind of help a Naturopathic Doctor can provide, they’re claiming ownership of their current and future health.
The inescapable truth is that good health is vital to living a rich and meaningful life. Fortunately our bodies let us know when we’re standing at a health crossroads by giving us warning signs in the form of unpleasant symptoms. However, many of us don’t listen to those signs, leading our health down a slippery slope.
Here’s a key fact: Illness doesn’t develop overnight. It often begins when we’re out of balance and burnt out. We need to pay attention to the warning signs before they escalate into something worse. Over the past 15 years in practice, I have seen many women diagnosed with autoimmune diseases and as they tell their story in our initial consult- we look back to the symptoms that started 5-10 years before their diagnosis and often their symptoms were these five signs:
We all feel stressed from time to time. And some stress is necessary to motivate us to get things done. However, chronic stress can lead to many health issues including muscle pain, cardiovascular and digestive issues, hormonal imbalance, depression and anxiety, and weakened immunity.
From an evolutionary perspective, the “fight or flight” response produced by stress hormones (including cortisol and adrenaline) makes sense. By putting your body into overdrive, those hormones could help you if you were under attack by a predator. However, in today’s world, stress tends to be chronic and relentless. As a result, your hormone levels can be way out of balance.
Are you ready to fly off the handle at any moment? Do things that used to make you laugh now irritate you? You could have an imbalance of the hormones that affect your mood, such as serotonin. Changes in estrogen levels and thyroid imbalances can also lead to irritability.
Sleep problems can become a vicious cycle: We need sleep to refresh our minds and restore balance, but when our bodies are out of balance, it can be difficult to sleep well. If you toss and turn for hours, or wake up in the night with racing thoughts, it may be time to listen to your body and start practicing better sleep hygiene.
4. Your Body is Changing (Rapid Weight Gain, Debilitating Fatigue, Skin Problems, etc.) and you Can’t Figure Out Why
Many patients experience mysterious symptoms that can’t be explained by conventional medicine. Weight gain is a common example. If you find you’ve gained weight without any change to your lifestyle, your body might be telling you it’s out of balance. Similarly, unexplained fatigue or sudden acne (long past the teen years) are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without your morning coffee, midmorning muffin, afternoon pumpkin spice latte and a glass or two of vino in the evening ask yourself what purpose those magic drinks and sugar are serving. Relying on a substance, be it sugar, caffeine, or even alcohol is not a sustainable way of coping with life’s difficulties and the short term boost soon gives way to unbalance. It’s important to seek help to nip these habits in the bud.
Does anything on that list sound familiar? You’re not alone! Feeling overwhelmed is often the result of our natural instinct to try to please everyone. The good news is that there’s a better way.
How can you start the process of restoring balance? It’s simpler than you might think.
What matters most to you? Chances are it’s not the laundry, or your next meeting, your emails or buying a nicer couch, or many of the things that take up space on your to-do list. Ultimately, for most of us, the important things are more intangible: our health, relationships, and family. And in order to prioritize those things, we need to put self-care at the top of the list. Simply put, we can’t devote energy to the really important things if we’re not looking after ourselves.
Interestingly, many people find that when they adjust their priorities, the other things cease to feel like such a struggle. It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but when we look after ourselves, everything else falls into place.
One of the resources I found helpful to reframe my priorities when I was suffering from out a few years back was the book, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.
This step can be hard for many people. After all, as adults, we’re supposed to be self-sufficient, right? However, consider this: Many successful people have help. Athletes have health and fitness coaches; musicians have teachers; many business owners have mentors. And they often credit their success to that support and guidance.
The real strength is in identifying areas of your life that feel out of control, and admitting that you could do with a helping hand.
A good first step is to book a thorough review of your health and wellness status with your Naturopathic Doctor. We’re here to help you better understand where these feelings of overwhelm and bothersome symptoms are coming from, and give you the tools you need to find balance again. Functional lab testing can identify any possible underlying physical issues, such as hormonal imbalances, that may have been missed by conventional lab tests. This holistic approach allows us to support you with an effective plan of action for your health and wellbeing that’s tailored specifically to you.
If you are ready to dive deeper into your health and rebalance your life, give my office a call at 978-475-7676!