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.
What is Burnout?
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. REF#1818
These professions include those who provide care in medical settings, mental health professionals, caregivers for sick or unwell loved ones, and even educators.
Of course, people working in helping professions aren’t the only ones who can experience burnout. We now understand that burnout isn’t limited to work-related events.
Although job burnout is common, emotional exhaustion can also come from other areas of your life and leave you feeling depleted. This condition can now be applied to anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of burnout, regardless of the source.
It’s important to note that the World Health Organization categorizes burnout syndrome as a specifically work-related phenomenon. REF#1819 Although it isn't classified as a medical diagnosis, it is recognized as an occupational phenomenon with recognizable symptoms.
To further complicate this, there’s no generally accepted definition of this state or syndrome, nor is there a surefire way to measure it. REF#1818
What we can say is that burnout stems from chronic stress and involves both physical and emotional fatigue as well as feeling cynical, detached, ineffective, and unaccomplished. REF#1820
When it comes to the causes of burnout, though, we can be a bit more specific than simply “chronic stress.”
What Are The Causes of Burnout?
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. REF#1821 In addition, you may be on your way to burnout if your job stress includes an unduly heavy workload or long hours that are expected but the effort is never recognized by management. REF#1821
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. REF#1821
What Are The Symptoms of Burnout?
Is it regular work-related stress or something more? Sometimes it can be hard to know for certain if you are dealing with common workday irritation or are at risk of burnout. Let’s take a look at more warning signs of burnout to help better understand what it is.
Emotional signs of burnout may include:
- Emotional exhaustion REF#1818
- Inability to cope with stress REF#1818
- A sense of cynicism and frustration with work REF#1818
- Distancing yourself emotionally from your work REF#1818
- Lack of creativity REF#1818
- Anger and irritability REF#1822
- Feeling less effective at your job REF#1822
On the other hand, physical symptoms of burnout can include:
- Lack of energy REF#1818
- Stomach problems REF#1818
- Mental exhaustion REF#1822
- Difficulty concentrating REF#1818
Although burnout can be caused by chronic workplace stress, its effects on your personal life and your overall well-being can intensify its symptoms.
What Are The Long-Term Effects of Burnout?
Experiencing burnout can affect more than just your job. It can also carry its effects into your personal life and relationships as well. REF#1823
Effects of burnout can include:
- Reduced productivity REF#1823
- Lack of energy and motivation REF#1823
- Feelings of cynicism, hopelessness, and resentment REF#1823
- Lowered immunity REF#1823
Not to mention, the effects of long-term stress on the physical body are well documented and can lead to significant health concerns if not addressed. REF#1824 You may not be able to change your job situation, but there are ways you can protect yourself against burnout.
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 to support your mood and help you maintain a healthy stress response.*
1) Talk to Your Doctor
It’s important to remember that burnout and its manifestations can be easily confused with depression or a physical health condition. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice the signs we listed above.
Feelings of hopelessness and despair are also signs of depression, a mental disorder that needs medical attention. REF#1825 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, taking stock of your life and reviewing your options is important.
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 where you can ask for help, support, or accountability from trusted friends and family members. Finally, no matter what decisions you make about work or boundaries, it’s essential to start proactively participating in self-care, like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and practicing good sleep habits.
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 Sound Sleep® capsules.*
Sound Sleep contains a blend of several relaxing, sleep-supporting herbs, including Skullcap, Gotu Kola, Passionflower, Hops, and California Poppy.* 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. * It can also help support your sleep drive, or your desire for sleep at the appropriate time. REF#1826
When you don’t feel motivated to get moving, remember 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.9 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.*REF#1827 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.”REF#1828
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.*REF#1828
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 big fans of all of these adaptogens, Schisandra stands out because it promotes overall health and vitality and serves as a powerful source of antioxidants.* It supports mental endurance, the body's natural resistance, and adaptation to stressful influences.* REF#1829
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.
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.* REF#1830
Like all of our supplements, it’s purity-tested; vegan; free of dairy, gluten, and soy; and assured for potency.
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, and habits, you can feel better and start reducing the stress and fatigue of burnout to live a more fulfilling and thriving life.*
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