Burnout: Signs and what to do about it

Many of us suffer from burnout - for some, they don’t even know they are experiencing it. 

Burnout can occur for many reasons and will be different for each individual. It’s worth noting that the reasons we give here may not apply to you, and the advice on overcoming it may not be relevant.

If you feel you are suffering from burnout and aren’t sure what to do about it, contact your healthcare provider; there could be a medical reason you feel this way. 

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that usually make everyday tasks difficult. Burnout could be due to long-term stress or working in a mentally or physically draining job.1

If someone is suffering from burnout, it is likely to affect their ability to meet the demands of their job. During the pandemic in 2020, 46% of people felt more prone to extreme stress, and 1 in 5 people felt they were unable to manage stress and pressure in the workplace.1

What are the Symptoms of Burnout?

Common signs of burnout include feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, drained, detached from others around you, self-doubt, procrastination, negativity and feelings of helplessness, defeat and emptiness.1

How is Burnout Linked to the Gut?

Burnout could be due to you living with an unhealthy gut. If your gut is struggling, you can experience tiredness, lethargy, lack of energy, digestive issues, binge-eating and many other symptoms that can make everyday tasks extremely challenging. 

Most of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut. If your gut isn’t functioning well, it cannot produce enough serotonin. This can lead to low mood, anxiety, trouble sleeping, altered appetite and stress.

All of these symptoms can contribute to or even be part of experiencing burnout. 

Experiencing burnout can also lead to the gut experiencing problems - the body is intricately connected, and mental health issues can have a significant impact on gut function.

When you are experiencing stress, the body focuses on protecting and feeding your organs. This means the gut can be forgotten, and digestive issues will occur.2

Your immune system is also heavily based in your gut; around 70%, actually. The immune system can suffer if your gut isn’t functioning well, leaving you more susceptible to illness and disease. 

Chronic inflammation can cause burnout to occur - it can cause very unpleasant symptoms that can actually increase the risk of autoimmune disease and cancer.

Chronic inflammation is most commonly due to leaky gut - a condition where the intestinal lining becomes damaged and food and toxins are able to enter the bloodstream, triggering inflammation of the cells. 

Chronic inflammation can cause sufferers to have a real lack of energy and suffer from the symptoms of burnout; it can make it extremely hard to live a fulfilling, energised life unless treated. 

How Do I Avoid Burnout?

The simplest thing you can do to help prevent burnout is to look after your gut. It is imperative to keep the gut microbiome balanced to prevent leaky gut or other digestive issues from occurring and causing the symptoms of burnout.

Keeping a food diary to keep an eye on food intolerances can be extremely useful for avoiding an unhealthy gut. If you have a food intolerance, your body struggles to digest that food and has an unpleasant reaction to them.3 

Symptoms of burnout are heavily linked to food intolerances, and many people do not realise they have one! An elimination diet can help to determine if you are suffering from any food intolerances.4 Keep track of your symptoms and one by one eliminate possible triggers - you may just find it’s been a yeast or egg intolerance all along! 

Final Thoughts

Burnout can be limiting, and having low energy can make it difficult to do anything about it. If you are struggling, speak to your healthcare provider or employer (if you feel comfortable); they will have resources available to help. 

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