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Spot And Stop Burnout – A Must-Read For All High Performers

Written by: Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

While burnout has become somewhat of a buzzword recently, it remains a problem for high performers. As the year ends, what could be worse than blinking and realizing you've missed the vacation time you worked all year for because you have burnt yourself out ‒ so you spent your hard-earned free time on autopilot? When that vacation does roll around, you get to be present for every second of it and show up for 2023: ready, intentional, peaceful, and purposeful. This article will cover what to ask yourself to see if you are “burnt out” and the steps to stop burnout.


 business woman overworked doing hand gesture saying stop.


Burnout: What is it?


In one word: exhaustion. As someone who has experienced burnout, it is the kind of exhaustion that feels like no amount of sleep, rest or restoration can cure. You feel like anything and everything is just too much effort. Something as simple as feeding yourself or coffee with a friend seems like a chore ‒ and doing work ‒ well, that just feels impossible. Burnout is not a diagnosed condition, but psychologists theorize that anxiety and depression often preempt, cause, or are an effect of burnout. Studies are also showing that our gut health is directly and intimately related to our adrenal health through what is known as the HPA Axis. Chronic stress and high cortisol levels eventually lead to a complete depletion of these healthy stress hormones. Measuring burnout would look like a flatline of what should be a typical spike and curve of cortisol in our bloodstream. Just like most things, it's unique to everyone. People may experience burnout a little differently.


Questions to ask in uncovering whether or not you're experiencing burnout:

  1. Is your productivity, creativity, and concentration at work at an all-time low?

  2. Do you feel constantly drained?

  3. Do you feel "numb"? Like you have little energy or enthusiasm even for things you used to love?

Are you suffering from insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, a compromised immune system, gastrointestinal disorders, and any of the above?


Anyone who has experienced any burnout spectrum will know what I mean when I say that there's a tiredness that goes beyond just your mind and body. Soul fatigue proves that our body, mind, and spirit are highly connected and influence our success. And in a world demanding us to "grind" our way to the top, it’s easy to experience this deep level of soul fatigue. The signs and symptoms of burnout overlap those of depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Going to see a registered counselor, psychologist or coach should be a high performers' quarterly standard at the very least. Disclaimer aside ‒ the good news is that there are ways to stop that burnout from progressing. Or, if you realize you already are in a state of burnout, the great news is that my team at the Gut Health Agency and I can help by utilizing state-of-the-art, functional GI Map testing combined with trauma-informed subconscious therapy.


Fun Fact: Burnout can start in the gut

Let the following sentence empower you instead of scare you: Your mood, energy levels, immune system, and even how you treat others are all influenced by your gut. So it's not surprising that burnout can cause or negatively impact your gut health. The cycle is so vicious it's often unclear which causes which, but the cycle looks like this: You're stressed at work and need to put in more hours. Your sleep quantity and quality decrease, causing you to experience brain fog and thus require more working hours and, consequently ‒ less sleep. You start craving foods high in carbohydrates, and your body knows junk food is the best place to find that quick energy. You also have less time to prepare your food, so the amount of processed food you eat doubles. Eating only processed food leads to less helpful gut bacteria and a breeding frenzy for the unhelpful gut bacteria and, of course, good ol' inflammation. Without proper nutrition, your immune system suffers, and you get sick, causing you to miss work and get even more stressed. On top of that, you're constipated, constantly breaking out, and cranky with everyone. Does any of this sound familiar? Here are some steps that have worked for my clients and me:


Get a burnout buddy


This tip is rather unconventional on the high performers' list, but in a dog-eat-dog world, it's often every man for himself. Luckily, we are beginning to understand the power of community. A powerful tactic is to have a burnout buddy to keep you accountable each week. An accountability buddy will be someone you have a weekly check-in with to ensure you recover and decompress from the work week, find joy in what you do, and get help when you are not. Of course, when you sign up for our signature program, you now have access to a shortcut to these benefits. You also gain a community of like-minded women AND a Care Team of specialists checking in with you to keep you accountable.

Rest Rituals:


Having set habits and rituals feel intrinsically comforting. They remind us of a time when we had so many routines and rituals that we felt completely safe. This stability might not be everyone's reality, but many of us can think back to a time we felt truly safe and secure. Safe and secure is the opposite of burnout. We may feel overwhelmed like we're running to a goalpost we can't see and with an unknown end date. We can create that sense of safety and security. Best of all, you get to decide what rest rituals work for you and your lifestyle:

  • Having a night routine.

  • Having a weekly solo date to practice the self-care rituals that make the most significant difference to you. (Small hinges swing big doors.)

  • Create a morning and nighttime skincare routine

"Useless" Joy:


Of course, joy is not useless. Happiness, like all emotions, brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. So what I mean when I say ‘useless joy’ is finding and doing things for no purpose other than your joy. What a concept, I know! As adults, how often do you do something because "it's fun"? You can probably recall asking a child, "why are you doing that?" and they reply with a variation of "just 'cause," "because I like it," or "because it's fun." You probably looked at them like they lost their marbles when in reality, YOU could afford to let go of some of yours and do something 'just cause you feel like it.’ If you can't think of what to do - here's an idea: Pick a song you LOVE and dance or sing along to the whole song. I can't belt out "Walking on Sunshine" and not smile. Do yourself a favor, sneak to a private spot and sing along! Here is a lyric video so you have no excuses. Once the song ends, notice how your mood shifts.

Practice your “No”:


Start small with polite “no, thank yous” to less important things, then start challenging yourself to train that ‘no’ muscle every week. As a high performer, you need to know that most successful people in the world say “no” to almost everything. Read that again: Most successful people say no to almost everything. By saying “no” to those things that are not worth your precious time, you are saying YES to what matters and what moves the needle forward to progress in the area most important to you.

Give your body a fighting chance:


If you answered “Yes” to question 2 of the simple "Am I burnt out?" questionnaire, it’s abundantly clear that burnout shows up as much physically as it does mentally and emotionally. It's essential to prioritize gut health to stop that spiral. The Gut Health Agency's mission is to help high performers learn how to protect and nourish their gut through a holistic approach to gut health. Or, if you need some things you can do right now, the tips I highlighted in this blog will help.


Even if you are not experiencing burnout yourself, chances are you know of someone who is. Pass this blog to your teams to ensure you all perform at your best. And, of course, because you deserve to have that well-earned vacation time and be present for every second of it.


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Chelsea Haines, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Recently featured "The Gut Health Coach" by Yahoo!, Chelsea Haines has a unique way of helping high-performers heal. She doesn't claim to know best. Her mission: to remind you that YOU are the expert on your body, only you know precisely what you need, and you are not "crazy" for feeling how you feel. Her expertise stems from personally healing autoimmune disease paired with formal degrees in psychology, gut health, and mindfulness. She’s the Founder of The Gut Health Agency, where a team of health coaches & Registered Dietitians merge health coaching with clinical testing for increased patient compliance and lasting habit change ‒ a needle-moving combination not otherwise seen in the gut health space.

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