Expert tips to avoid burnout

Cartoon of a clockwork woman suffering from Burnout

Try these tips to help avoid burnout. - Credit: Getty Images

In 2022, burnout will officially be classed as a disease by the World Health Organisation. It is something burnout coach, Rosie Millen, is all too familiar with. At 30 she was a successful businesswoman, running two companies and enjoying a fast-paced life. But in 2014, things dramatically changed when she collapsed. ‘I stayed in bed for three months, I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk and at my worst I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. I thought I was never going to be me again,’ she says. Tests came back normal and Rosie was diagnosed as depressed and given antidepressants. ‘I burst into tears because I wasn’t depressed at all, I was just completely exhausted.’ 

Burnout, or adrenal fatigue as it is also known, is the inability to cope with modern life. Unlike ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), which can have other contributing factors, burnout is brought on by stress. Work and home pressures, lack of sleep and not eating correctly can all contribute. ‘We live in a world that is super overworked, super-fast paced and we are not very good at giving ourselves permission to relax, breathe and take time out to wind down,’ says Rosie. 

Today she is ‘90 per cent recovered’ and helping others transform their energy by making changes to their diet, lifestyle and mindset. Signs to look out for include waking up feeling tired after a good night’s sleep, finding small tasks challenging, not wanting to socialise, loss of drive and motivation, and being irritable at the tiniest thing. When we experience physical or mental stress the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. The body goes into flight or fight mode, the heart races, muscles tense and more blood sugar is produced to deal with the perceived stress. ‘If the adrenal glands don’t have time to recover, they can become fatigued and stop producing these hormones which can lead to adrenal exhaustion,’ says Rosie.  

‘Identify stressors and reduce or eliminate them, say no and slow down, improve your diet, take breaks from social media and sleep!’ 

Rosie’s Top Tips 

Increase your calories: most people I see are not eating enough and are over-exercising; remember food is energy. 

Sleep: you need to be getting a least eight hours a night to function properly. If you miss out on sleep and start to make it less of a priority, it is a stress on the adrenal glands and will eventually catch you out. 

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Rest: take yourself away for 10 mins each day, lie down, do some deep breathing and switch off your mind. Our minds are constantly busy and naturally tend to overthink. Just breathing out slowly lowers the stress hormone cortisol. 

Meditate to reduce anxiety: it helps to centre you and focus your mind for a more relaxed, positive state. Download the apps Headspace and Calm to get you started. 

Take a supplement: stress is a major robber of vitamins and minerals, particularly B vitamins, so taking a high-quality B complex will help.  

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