If you’re experiencing ongoing stress, you may have what is known as burnout. Statistics show that chronic stress is at an all-time high, and burnout is one of the main risks of increasing and constant stress and work-related pressures. Here are ways to treat burnout and prevent this increasingly common condition from robbing you of your health and quality of life.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is the mental and physical exhaustion (and related impacts) that people experience from chronic stress. This can lead to feeling drained and not having energy. But more than just draining your energy, burnout weakens your resilience, can spill into your personal life, and makes everything seem more difficult and stressful—even minor tasks and daily responsibilities. Burnout can also lead to health complications. As burnout becomes more common and recognized in the mental health world, researchers are starting to show just how debilitating this condition can be in every area of a person’s life.1
Who is at Risk of Burnout?
Statistics show that people with demanding and stressful jobs that require high energy output, like ICU nurses for example, are at the highest risk of burnout. However, burnout can happen to anyone, regardless of your occupation. If you struggle with stress, anxiety, or depression, and don’t take the time to relax and reset, you could be at risk for burnout—with serious impacts to your health.
Burnout tends to manifest as a distinct condition, even though some of the more common symptoms of burnout often overlap with other stress-related mental health concerns. If you experience any of these mental, emotional or physical signs, you may be experiencing burnout, and need a serious break.2
Signs of Burnout
Signs and symptoms of burnout include:
- Hypersensitivity to stress
- Increased Anxiety and Depression
Health Risks of Burnout
Over time, the constant surge of stress signals in your body can trigger health problems and impair your normal body functions. Common health risks of burnout include:
The long-term stress of burnout can suppress your immune system and increase your risks of catching colds, flu and other infections.
Headaches, pain, muscle fatigue, brain fog and other neurological issues are common effects of burnout from chronic stress.
Digestive and Metabolic Symptoms
Digestive upset, nausea, loss of appetite, microbiome damage, insulin and blood glucose imbalances, obesity, and other digestive and metabolic impacts can be directly related to chronic stress and burnout.
By far the biggest recommendation for preventing and treating burn out is to recognize the risk factors, and take steps to restore physical and mental energy and health with frequent breaks and rest periods. Frequent small breaks and daily de-stress habits are more effective against burnout than one longer annual vacation—although both are important. Experts recommend keeping a buffer between work and home life, by not taking work home with you after hours. In addition, taking the time to replenish your mind and mood with regular relaxation methods, exercise, social activities and other methods that recharge your batteries is essential in preventing burnout and improving overall stress resilience.
Lifestyle tips to reduce the risks of burnout include:
- maintaining a healthy diet to support mental and physical health and energy
- proper sleep habits for deep, reparative sleep
- regular exercise to reduce stress hormones and improve mood
- healthy stress relief practices like mindful meditation and deep breathing
Natural Ways to Reduce Burnout and Improve Mental Health
Natural supplements and extracts can calm uncontrolled stress, increase our resilience to future stress, and help improve our brain health. My number one recommendation for treating burnout and easing chronic stress symptoms is pure honokiol.
Pure honokiol is a powerful antioxidant compound derived from Magnolia officinalis bark, a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for centuries to treat anxiety and depression. Pure honokiol crosses the blood-brain barrier and supports relaxation, calm and a healthy mood by interacting with GABA receptors in the brain. It also reduces neuroinflammation in the brain, which is often high in people with chronic stress and depression. Honokiol also promotes healthy cortisol balance, to help tame hyper-reactive stress and balance your natural fight-or-flight “survival responses.” On top of all this, honokiol is an effective cellular health agent that defends against cancer, inflammation and fibrosis to keep cells, tissues, and organs healthy.3
With all that we’re facing today, no one is immune from the risks of burnout. But by recognizing the risks and signs, and taking steps to find calm and give yourself a break, we can keep our mental and physical health flexible and resilient, so we can tackle whatever life throws at us.
1. Friganović A, Selič P, Ilić B, Sedić B. Stress and burnout syndrome and their associations with coping and job satisfaction in critical care nurses: a literature review. Psychiatr Danub. 2019 Mar;31(Suppl 1):21-31. PMID: 30946714.
2. Julie Fraga. A Guide to Burnout. Healthline website. Updated May 18, 2019. Accessed Aug 10, 2021.
3. Rauf A, Olatunde A, Imran M, Alhumaydhi FA, Aljohani ASM, Khan SA, Uddin MS, Mitra S, Emran TB, Khayrullin M, Rebezov M, Kamal MA, Shariati MA. Honokiol: A review of its pharmacological potential and therapeutic insights. Phytomedicine. 2021 Sep;90:153647.