Burnout can be short-term or long-term; this depends on the nature of the cause and the person's ability to cope. In naturopathic practice, I commonly observe burnout only that we label it "adrenal fatigue" indicating that that the patient's adrenal glands, which provide the feel good hormones; the real energy; the vitality; and resiliency to cope under pressure, are depleted and no longer functioning well, no longer able to give life to the person. Instead, the person is "on edge" with a nervous energy and more often in surviving mode as opposed to thriving mode.
Refer to the diagram below, it depicts some common "stressors" that can deplete your adrenals, your life force. [Diagram is from the Adrenal Fatigue book by Dr. Wilson]
HABIT # 1 = Rebuilding your Health Foundation
In order to rise up, you need a foundation to stand upon. This is fundamental and building a health foundation needs to become a lifestyle habit, day in - day out. One's health foundation is individual-specific and made up of 7 health basics, even focusing on the first 3 basics will have a huge impact and create a domino effect for the other 4 basics of health.
1. Eat Right: Adequate protein to heal and fuel the body. Low carbs to stabilize blood sugars and decrease cravings. Healthy fats to build-up hormones and support brain health. Did you know that the precursor to hormones is fat/cholesterol and that 60% of the brain is fat?
2. Drink Right: Adequate water to nourish and lubricate nerves. Correct dehydration.
3. Move Right: Adequate movement. Inspired and intentional movement.
4. Breathe Right: Deep belly breathing. Belly rises upon inhale, belly drops upon exhale.
5. Think Right: Positive and realistic thoughts, desires.
6. Sleep Right: Healthy sleep schedule repeated everyday (even on weekends).
7. Poop Right: Eliminating the physical (and emotional) crap every single day.
HABIT #2 = Miracle Mornings
With adrenal burnout, we may not need to change our life entirely but we do need to change our patterns. The focus of Miracle Mornings is a daily routine to cultivate personal growth so you can reach your goals; supercharge your productivity; uphold your intentions and manifest your peace. The specifics (time of day, time allotted and activity) of the Miracle Morning routine is up to you, however the intention is to set aside time to build-upon your physical, spiritual and mental aspects...to revive your adrenals, to reconnect with you.
I often use "the spaceship analogy". A spaceship uses the most of amount of fuel for take-off but afterwards continues with that gathered momentum. We too can benefit by starting off our day with a "bang" and creating that strong momentum for our day-day living.
What is suggested by the Miracle Mornings:
1. 20 minutes of movement: To wake-up fully. Check-off that physical activity goal. Exercise moves blood, unlocks blocked energy, moves toxins, increases metabolism and alertness. Bonus: exercise increases brain power by up to 20%!
2. 20 minutes of spiritual: Sit quietly with yourself in meditation - this creates an opportunity to learn about yourself in-between the monkey thoughts and gain clarity on what you crave to have in your day, in your life. Note: You can swap the meditation for another form of inner exploration, perhaps scribing/journaling or prayer.
3. 20 minutes of mental: Some prefer writing out the day/weeks goals, reading a book on personal development or health or career. Others prefer listening to a personal development you tube video or podcast. Example: Listen to an "Achieve your Goals" podcast by Hal Elrod (halelrod.com/blog/) or a Tony Robbins clip on "Building Rapport".
Miracle Mornings can be interchanged to Power Hour as used by Robin Sharma and others. Power Hour refers to the above routine, but occurs at any appropriate time of day. Either way, commit to this intentional personal development habit and live on purpose, with purpose.
HABIT #3 = Accept, Change, Reject
A beautiful step and without a doubt, a challenging step. Many years ago, I once read that in life we usually have 3 options in situations or circumstances that deplete us.
Option 1: Accept - can we accept our situation, stop fighting it or holding previous expectations or ideals against it. For example, you hate your commute to work. Unless you plan on changing the work location, you will need to accept the drive and make it worthwhile - be it improving your singing skills or listening to audio books.
Option 2: Change - is it time to change the situation either solo or with teamwork? For example, you are tired of over-functioning while your spouse under-functions in the household upkeep. With an honest conversation and new systems created, you just might be able to function as a team.
Option 3: Reject - saying no or walking away. Sometimes, this is the last option and sometimes it is the only option. For example, saying no to the excess commitments that no longer provide you with fulfillment so that you can "say yes to you".
In conclusion, within each step, there are mini-steps and within each mini-step, there is learning; challenges; successes; failures; self-love; time investment; comfortable change; uncomfortable change etc. With each step, you are rebuilding, replenishing, recharging your adrenals and ultimately yourself so that you can move forward with resiliency and vitality.
I commonly support patients with adrenal burnout - and it's a powerful transformation - one of my favourites to observe in practice and watch as patients practice new patterns and show up for themselves even on the toughest days.
If you or someone you know would benefit from an adrenal revival - I would be happy to be of support - you can connect with me at Vivo! Naturopathic & Wellness Centre in Cambridge.
To living in [wow] health,
Dr. Amy de Oliveira, Naturopathic Doctor
Women's & Family Natural Health Expert