Burnout is a problem in every industrialized society. The World Health Organization now recognizes it as a disease and an “occupational phenomenon.” Burnout can leave you feeling tired, tearful and irritable. It is generally caused by prolonged, work-related stress that elevates hormones such as cortisol to an unsustainable level. It is thought that eventually, cortisol levels become depleted, making it difficult to feel energized and alert.
Other symptoms of burnout include:
- Cynicism and negativity
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of job satisfaction
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Muscle and joint pain
- Digestive problems
How to Treat Burnout
Disclaimer, please talk to your doctor before about treating burnout. Contents in this blog post are for informational purposes only.
If you want to avoid burnout, then you first of all need to ensure that you get enough rest and sleep. To get a good night’s sleep, ensure that you have a routine. This routine could involve dimming the light, taking a bath and reading. Taking a bath is a great way to prepare for sleep. After a hot bath, the body actually cools down – and a cool body temperature is optimal for sleep.
Dimming or turning off the lights is important too, as blue light can keep you awake and trick the body and mind into thinking it is the middle of the day. You want to reduce stimulation as much as possible before bed, so listening to a podcast or reading a book is better than watching TV or being on your phone.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about supplements and foods that can help you to sleep as well. Glycine and magnesium are great for promoting relaxation and deep sleep. Nutrition is essential when it comes to treating burnout.
Checking for food allergies, eating whole foods and nutrient-dense foods can be an excellent foundation for treating burnout. Processed foods can spike our blood sugar and cause inflammation. Under medical supervision, intermittent fasting can also help with energy levels while reducing inflammation.
Adaptogens are herbs that can help the body adapt to stress. Please speak to your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs. Adaptogens include Rhodiola Rosea, which has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to reduce stress and fatigue.
Other adaptogens of note include ashwagandha and Korean ginseng. Please speak to your doctor before taking any adaptogens, as they can interact with medications and complicate illnesses.
Socializing & The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is a long nerve that travels from the brain stem to the gut. It carries sensory information about pain from the throat and outer ear. It also receives information from the heart, throat and digestive tract, and baroreceptors in blood vessels regarding blood pressure.
It is the main “parasympathetic nerve” in the body – meaning that it helps to calm the body and mind. Stimulation of the vagus nerve also has a robust anti-inflammatory effect – with inflammation touted as a precursor for almost all western diseases, including depression and anxiety (you can find scientific studies about inflammation and mental health here.
With lockdown upon us for prolonged periods of 2020 and 2021, people have been working remotely and not socializing in the evenings and weekends. While remote work has many benefits, isolation and lack of social interaction have a detrimental effect on mental health. In social situations where we feel safe and confident, our heart rate and breathing slow, blood pressure drops, and stress response switches off.
If you are at risk of burnout, it is important to try and socialize and be among people who make you feel safe and at ease. If you are unable to meet up in person, consider joining an online group. There are also ways to activate the vagus nerve without social engagement. You can stretch your neck side to side, you can hmm or sing, and you can practice diaphragmatic breathing.
As entrepreneurs, it can be challenging to hand over control. However, outsourcing can help your business stay competitive and profitable while freeing up more of your time.
By outsourcing telephone answering and administrative duties, for example, you can dramatically reduce interruptions, free up significant amounts of time and stay more productive. If you have a website, you can increase engagement and enhance the user experience by outsourcing to and using a managed live chat provider. According to Moneypenny.com 44% of customers are looking for advice during an online purchase and live chat can provide the most immediate and convenient way to get advice.
The best way to decide what to outsource is to keep a journal of your daily tasks for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, calculate how much time you spent on each task. Next to each of these calculations, estimate how much it would cost to outsource each task. If you spend 5 hours a week answering the phone, for example, you could probably outsource receptionist duties for a few dollars per hour.
Benefits of outsourcing include:
- Saves you time & reduces stress
- Makes you more productive
- Allows you to focus on the core work of your business
- Allows you to focus on what you are passionate about
- Can provide better quality as freelancers have specialized skills
- Problem-solving – if you can’t or don’t have time – a freelancer will
- Saves space and upfront costs compared to employing people
- No long contracts and legal red tape
- Pay per hour or project – giving flexibility
Burnout is a problem that is not going away any time soon. As entrepreneurs, it can be challenging to fulfill all the roles of a small business. Outsourcing can help free up time and reduce stress, while a whole food diet and outdoor exercise increase wellbeing and alleviate fatigue. Social interaction is also vital for vagus nerve stimulation. We must include activities that give us joy and bring us peace if our occupation is draining us. If you can set goals and focus on what you are passionate about, finding meaning in work can be key to avoiding burnout.