Burnout can negatively impact our relationships, careers, and physical and mental health. With everyday stressors like work, children, and relationships adding up—not to mention a global pandemic—burnout may seem inevitable. Thankfully, it can be avoidable. Here's our guide to handling burnout naturally!
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is an experience that many of us understand but have a hard time describing because it's unique to each individual. However, we can all agree that burnout is the overwhelming feeling of "I don't know how much longer I can do this."
According to psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, there are three primary types of burnout:
- Overload—Experiencing a decreased sense of accomplishment. Continually working harder at jobs or relationships, only to feel you’re going nowhere.
- Under-challenge—Going through the motions without feeling engaged in relationships or work.
- Neglect—Shutting down from emotional exhaustion, making it harder to perform tasks or maintain relationships.
Anybody can feel any combination of these emotions. However, research suggests that men usually experience under-challenge burnout, especially in the workplace. Men with burnout typically perform their jobs complacently while fantasizing about working somewhere else.
Women tend to experience neglect burnout. The average woman experiencing burnout runs herself into the ground. This behavior can cause workplace errors, strains in friendships, or physiological stress.
What Causes Burnout?
However, work is just one cause of burnout. Anything that requires us to put in more work than the output of tangible rewards can cause burnout. That includes social activism, running PTA meetings, coaching Little League, running a table at a farmer's market, and more.
Burnout is not depression, even if the symptoms can be mistaken for one another. People with depression will often have trouble getting out of bed. People experiencing burnout will still get up. It'll just be a struggle and can lead to decreased performance.
How to Defeat Burnout
Burnout is prompted by physiological stress. Stress is caused by things in our lives that trigger it—stressors.
The body perceives many stressors, including bad relationships, toxic work environments, viruses in the air, poor diet, and more.
Stressors trigger our bodies to produce excitatory hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. From an evolutionary perspective, these hormones promote a fight-flight-or-freeze response.
For our ancestors, stressors meant running for your life from a wild animal or sheltering from inclement weather. This instinct draws on your concentration, hormones, immunity, and more.
Once the ancestor reached safety, they would celebrate with their loved ones. This celebration told the body that the threat was over and the stress response cycle was closed. Today, we need to learn how to close that stress response cycle to avoid burnout.
How to Close the Stress Response Cycle
Stress response has three stages:
- Beginning—When you perceive the threat
- Middle—When you deal with the threat
- End—When you realize the threat is over
We deal with stages 1 and 2 every day. However, we never take the time to close the stress response cycle. We're left with these excitatory hormones that keep us alert and cause more stress.
Let's face it, today's stressors will probably also be tomorrow's. So, we must handle burnout by dealing with physiological stress.
Burn off these hormones at the end of the day. Go for a walk outside, do some yoga, or meditate. Also, bring hormonal balance with regular sleep. Use Joy Organics' CBD Softgels with Melatonin to support healthy sleep patterns.
How to Prevent Burnout
Many times, stress is triggered by feelings. You may feel overworked at your job, underappreciated by your spouse, and physically exhausted from raising your kids.
Work through these feelings by asking for help. Let your boss know that you need the workload spread evenly. Tell your partner you need a date night. Schedule time for a babysitter so that you can do something that you enjoy.
When people take things off your plate, it will allow you to complete your stress cycle. Once you overcome your stress, you can start taking things off others' plates.
In work culture, we tend to view people who are resting as “slackers.” However, maybe they're experiencing burnout; it’s important to change our personal opinion and societal view of rest—it’s a good thing!
By being the change you wish to see in the world, you can inspire others to help each other out. Through these gestures, we can shift the narrative of workplace culture and ‘busy-ness’ championing, and help extinguish burnout once and for all.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.