In our fast-paced world, it’s no surprise that more and more people are dealing with burnout and mental exhaustion. If you find yourself in this boat, there are steps you can take to gently and naturally fight stress, listlessness, and fatigue.
But before we share six ways to banish burnout, it’s important to define this state and explore the signs that indicate you might be experiencing it.
Stress, exhaustion, and high expectations have been around for centuries. But in the 1970s an American psychologist named Herbert Freudenberger used the term “burnout” to describe their effects on people in helping professions.1
Of course, people working in helping professions (such as social workers, doctors, nurses, and psychologists) aren’t the only ones who can experience burnout. The term can now be applied to anyone.
However, burnout (which can lead to mental exhaustion) isn’t a medical diagnosis. And there’s no generally accepted definition of this state or syndrome, nor is there a surefire way to measure it.1
What we can say is that it stems from chronic stress and involves both physical and emotional fatigue as well as feeling cynical, detached, ineffective, and unaccomplished.2
When it comes to the causes of burnout, though, let’s get more specific than simply “chronic stress.”
Burnout can be the result of a poor work environment that includes a lack of support, incongruent values, a lack of independence, a sense of futility, not being sufficiently compensated, unfairness, or discrimination.3
Some people may also become burned out if they do not have a good work/life balance or are constantly dealing with distressing information or material.3
Let’s take a look at more signs of burnout to help better understand what it is.
Signs of Burnout
- Emotional exhaustion1
- Inability to cope1
- Lack of energy1
- Stomach problems1
- A sense of cynicism and frustration with work1
- Distancing yourself emotionally from your work1
- Difficulty concentrating1
- Lack of creativity1
- Anger and irritability4
- Mental exhaustion4
- Feeling less effective at your job4
6 Ways to Fight Burnout and Mental Exhaustion
Whether you’re already experiencing burnout or want to take proactive steps to prevent it, the following tips can help.
We’ll also offer suggestions for herbs that can support your mood and help you maintain a healthy stress response.*
1) Talk to Your Doctor
It’s important to keep in mind that burnout and its manifestations can be easily confused with depression or a physical condition. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice the signs we listed above.
Your doctor can help you rule out other physical or mental conditions and refer you to a specialist if needed.
2) Review Your Options
Dealing with burnout around work doesn’t automatically mean you have to quit your job, and there’s no need to rush into a decision. However, it’s important to take stock of your life and review your options.
Consider the benefits and drawbacks of leaving your job or putting specific boundaries in place to improve your work/life balance (such as stopping work on time or committing to not taking work home).
It’s also a good idea to think about areas in which you can ask for help, support, or accountability. Finally, no matter what decisions you make about work or boundaries, it’s essential to start proactively participating in self-care.
The following tips will help with just that.
3) Practice Mindfulness
Staying present in the moment and breathing deeply can do wonders to calm stress and anxiousness.
If you’re used to going nonstop and juggling 12 things at once, mindfulness practices may not be easy at first. But keep trying, because the benefits are worth it!
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas from our blog post “Twelve Days of Mindfulness.” We wrote the article with holiday stress in mind, but the tips apply to any time of the year.
- Choose three priorities for your day; focus on them amidst the stressors that pop up throughout the day.
- Stretch for a few minutes after waking up to tune in to your body and how it feels.
- Pick an action that you do multiple times a day (like reaching for your phone, looking in a mirror, or sitting down in your chair); every time you do it, take a couple of deep breaths.
- When you’re forced to wait in line, don’t distract yourself with your phone; notice your surroundings.
- Pay attention to your thoughts and gently bring them back to the present.
- Think of someone in your life for whom you’re grateful and express that gratitude.
- Step outside and enjoy Nature, no matter the weather.
- Try doing one yoga pose in the middle of your day.
- Choose a time of day to put your phone away or turn on airplane mode.
4) Sleep Well
When you’re stressed, sometimes it can be difficult to calm down enough to fall asleep and stay asleep. But sound sleep is essential to combatting fatigue and mental exhaustion.
Optimize sleep by rebalancing your circadian rhythm through habits such as basking in the morning sunshine, not forcing your body to stay awake at night, and putting electronics away at least an hour before bedtime.
While nothing can replace good sleep hygiene, for extra support, turn to herbs for sleep, like those in our Sleep & Relax™ capsules.*
Sleep & Relax contains a blend of several relaxing, sleep-supporting herbs, including Lavender, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, California Poppy, and Valerian.* This USDA Certified Organic formula promotes a sense of calm and helps prepare your body for a good night's rest so you can wake up feeling refreshed.*
Take two capsules one hour before bed.
5) Stay Active
In the interest of good sleep, you’ll want to avoid exercising late at night. However, staying active during the day is a key part of fighting mental exhaustion and burnout.
When you don’t feel motivated to get moving, keep in mind that engaging in regular physical activity can often give you more energy in the long run.
Exercise can provide physical health benefits, give your brain a chance to unwind while you focus on the activity at hand, and can also help you sleep better at night.
If you can, opt for exercising outdoors and you’ll reap the benefits of physical activity as well as connecting with Nature.
6) Take Herbal Supplements
In addition to making the right lifestyle changes, taking herbal supplements can help your body and mind fight burnout and mental exhaustion.* Here are two of our favorites.
Adrenal Health Daily Support
When your body has been in a state of chronic stress, your adrenal glands may need extra support. These glands are responsible for releasing cortisol in response to stressors and are thought to become taxed if they’re always “on.”
Adaptogenic herbs can help your body cope with stress. They normalize, rejuvenate, and tone your whole system, especially your endocrine system (which the adrenals are part of) and immune system.*
To support your adrenal glands, we recommend Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health® Daily Support.* This formula contains a synergistic blend of adaptogenic herbs, including Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra.
While we are a big fan of all of these adaptogens, Schisandra stands out for the way it promotes overall health and vitality and serves as a powerful source of antioxidants.* It supports mental endurance as well as the body's natural resistance and adaptation to stressful influences.*
Adrenal Health Daily Support also contains Gaia-grown® Oats, extracted fresh immediately after harvest to preserve full spectrum compounds for optimal potency.* These Oats are grown on our Certified Organic Gaia Farm nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
As a part of our commitment to transparency, we want to make it easy for you to learn about the origin of your herbs and how they were grown. That’s why we created meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform.
Simply enter your Herb ID (found on all Gaia Herbs product’s packaging) to search for your specific supplement and discover all the details you deserve to know about the herbs and ingredients it contains.
We’re leading the industry in herbal transparency because we have nothing to hide and everything to share.
Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs
We’ve included Cordyceps mushrooms in this formula because it has been traditionally used to help sustain energy, stamina, and endurance and to help the body better cope with stress.*
Like all of our supplements, it’s purity-tested; vegan; free of dairy, gluten, and soy; and assured for potency.
Fight Burnout Naturally
It seems that burnout and mental exhaustion are becoming more common with every passing day. If you identify with the signs of burnout that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, fight back with the tips shared here.
After speaking with your doctor, review your options and implement healthy self-care habits such as practicing mindfulness, sleeping well, staying active, and working herbal supplements into your wellness routine, such as Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health Daily Support or Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs.
Be encouraged: With the right medical care, boundaries, habits, and herbal support, you can feel better and start reducing the stress and fatigue of burnout to live a more fulfilling and thriving life.*
1. Informed Health, “Depression: What Is Burnout?”, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), last updated June 18, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286.
2. Sherrie Bourg Carter, “The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout...Do You Have Them?” Psychology Today, November 26, 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them.
3. Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team, “Signs of Burnout,” Ada, February 26, 2020, https://ada.com/signs-of-burnout.
4. “Burnout,” Psychology Today, accessed February 11, 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/burnout.