Burnout is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed.’ It is ‘a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity’ (Mayo Clinic).
It can be caused by factors such as: a sense of lack of control, unclear or unachievable work expectations, toxic workplace environment, lack of social support, or work-life imbalance. Burnout is not a condition that occurs overnight. It is the result of weeks and months of unmanaged stress.
The symptoms of burnout may be experienced as:
• Physical: fatigue, poor sleep, high blood pressure, headaches/migraines, diabetes, vulnerability to illnesses, and heart disease.
• Emotional: sadness, anger, irritability, low motivation and depression.
• Cognitive: brain fog, difficulty concentrating and memory issues.
• Behavioral: eating too much or too little, smoking, drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs.
If you ignore the symptoms they can have a significant effect on your health and can take months to recover from.
The Issue of Menopause
Women’s lives at menopause can be very stressful. You may be dealing with children growing up and leaving home, older parents needing support and a more demanding stage in your career while all the time your hormones are creating havoc with your health and emotions.
The adrenal glands don’t just create the stress hormones. They also create estrogen and progesterone. If you are stressed, your glands will prioritise the production of cortisol and adrenaline over the production of the reproductive hormones. So, you end up with even less of the reproductive hormones that are already in decline. This aggravates the menopause symptoms.
Sarah’s Experience of Burnout
I recently interviewed Sarah Ross for the Hot Women Rock Radio Show about her experience of burnout and her long road to recovery.
At 33, Sarah Ross had her dream corporate career. She was spending 85% of her time traveling the world across 14 time zones to visit client companies. It looked like the perfect Instagram life with first class travel and exotic destinations.
Within twelve to eight months Sarah’s body was giving her signals that it was not coping with the ongoing stress. The first sign was frequent migraines, up to twenty-three a month. She tried to ignore it by thinking she was dehydrated or not getting enough sleep.
Sarah then experienced the emotional impact of her partner cheating on her and leaving. She had problems with her teeth. After extensive dental work her body rejected the implants and they fell out. Her doctor would not prescribe painkillers for her anymore because she had taken so many for her migraines.
The pain led her to thoughts of ending her life and she set a date to end it all. She took a severance package and started visiting family and friends, and working through her ‘bucket list’. This took her to an orphanage in Vietnam and her encounter with a dying orphan who changed her life.
Having discovered her ‘reason to breathe’, Sarah contacted a coach and started taking acting lessons to become a better speaker and share her message more powerfully. This was the beginning of her road to recovery which took two years.
Top Tips to Avoid Burnout
- Pay attention to your body and the signals of stress such as fatigue, poor sleep, frequent colds and illnesses.
- Prioritise your self-care. Make the time to relax.
- Write a list of things that make you happy and plan to do at least one of those activities every day. Do things that make you smile.
- Review your diet. Remove or reduce foods that stress the body such as caffeine, added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.
- Take regular exercise. Gentle exercise, such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates, are great ways to release stress.
- Create a First Aid Self Care Kit on your phone. It can include: your favourite playlist, YouTube videos, meditations, funny videos, a photo playlist. Use it if you start to feel stressed.
- Seek support at work and at home. It could be informal support such as colleagues, family or friends or more formally through your manager or occupational health. You may need to work with a therapist to help you with the long-term symptoms.
For more information about Sarah Ross and to take her ‘Are You Burning Out?’ quiz, go to http://www.yourreasontobreathe.com/
For help with menopause symptoms, including anxiety and stress contact me today.