The Steady Ride to Burnout

Dr. Nisha Jackson, Founder, Peak Medical ClinicsThe body’s sophisticated response to stress is nothing short of a miracle. But, the reality is that today we are all plugged in 24/7 and in a ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, maneuvering strategically between one highly pressurized situations to the next. Its like a time bomb. While our bodies are meant to react to perceived stress occasionally, they are clearly not capable of withstanding longer periods of flight or fight without some sort of breakdown. Think about it, you wouldn’t expect a car to run at top speed 100 percent of the time without its engine exploding, so why do we expect it of our bodies?

Women in general just have way too many demands on their lives today. They are working too many hours and managing too many tasks between work, home, and family. Women are juggling tasks, racing from one thing to the next, and exposing themselves to over-stimulation with their phones by constantly moving between emails, texts, and talking. Your body was not wired for this type of excessive hyper-stimulation and in time, without the right tools, it will show signs of breakdown. Some of the symptoms of burnout are:

Classic Burnout Symptoms
─ Chronic fatigue
─ Insomnia
─ Weight gain
─ Loss of sex drive
─ Forgetfulness/impaired concentration
─ Chest pain, heart racing, palpitations
─ Shortness of breath – feelings of anxiety
─ Dizziness, fainting
─ Headaches
─ Compromised immune system (frequently ill)
─ Loss of appetite or sugar/starch cravings
─ Anxiety/tension/constant worry
─ Depression/unexplained sadness
─ Anger/irritability/rage
─ Loss of enjoyment/negativity/pessimism
─ Isolation/detachment
─ Hopelessness/apathy
─ Lack of productivity

Additionally, stress is a major cause of a lousy sex drive. Excessive stress puts strain on our adrenals, making us feel exhausted and not interested in adding one more thing to the never-ending daily ‘task-list.’ (And sex really does feel like a ‘task’ when you’re stressed.) This unfair, vicious cycle of high stress, fatigue, and infrequent sex robs us of cashing in on all of the proven stress-busting benefits of good sex. The adrenal glands secrete hormones that pump up your libido. But when your stress glands become run-down from daily demands, causing physical and mental exhaustion, the last thing any woman wants is to jump into bed with her partner for more performance-based work, especially if orgasms are not easily achieved.

As more research is churned out on the health benefits of sex, it’s becoming clear that having a healthy sex life is essential to achieving a long, balanced life.
While high levels of stress may be unavoidable at times, the intense and chronic state of hurriedness could also be making you store fat at an accelerated rate, especially around your mid-section. Here's a breakdown of what happens: First, remember that your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven't used very many calories. This can make you hungry… very hungry. And your body just keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues. Finally, the cortisol interacts with insulin (a fat-storage hormone), putting you into the dreaded ‘fat storage zone’ and increasing your cravings and appetite all at the same time. Talk about hitting a girl when she’s down!
Few of us reach for carrots in these situations. Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods, because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension. This soothing effect becomes addicting, so every time you're anxious, you want fattening, sugary foods, because they do the trick.

With all of this happening and likely affecting your quality of life, here are some quick steps to handle stress and reverse the symptoms of burnout.

Step 1: Change Your Diet and Timing
Reduce blood glucose spikes and dips by eating the lean proteins, good fats and high fiber good carbohydrates like veggies, to help eliminate morning grogginess and afternoon fatigue. That means no bagels or muffins for breakfast. Protein is brain food and will improve your focus and memory for the entire day. Consider eating between the hours of 10am and 7pm to give your body more time to work on recovery and less time on constant digestion. This is excellent for weight loss and stress control.

Step 2: Take Vitamin C and Stress Support supplements.
Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands in the production of cortisol and other adrenal hormones. Consider taking higher doses of Vitamin C in the morning and noon. Also consider stress support supplement that contain adaptogens. I recommend BalanceDocs - ‘STRESS AM’ AND ‘STRESS PM’ supplements to balance the day and night rhythm of cortisol.

Step 3: Exercise
Walking, yoga, Pilates, and light strength training will serve you better than pounding it out in a spin class or running. Any type of vigorous exercise will leave your stress glands even more taxed, since one of the causes of the stress syndrome is ‘over-exercising.’

Step 4: Hydrate
Dehydration is one of the most common problems with fatigue and the physical inability to manage stress.

Step 5: Ignite Your Parasympathetic Nervous System Track
Take ten minutes twice daily to reboot. Breath in through your nose (expanding your belly not your chest) and out through pursed lips while focusing on the exact thing you want for yourself at that moment. Imagine exactly what you want to feel, have, acquire, and be with all of the positive emotions to go along with it. Stay there for 2-3 minutes.

Step 6: Get Deep, Restorative Sleep
Skimping on sleep handicaps the brain, nervous system, hormonal system, and the body as a whole by robbing it of needed recovery from the previous day and hindering the rejuvenation of hormones and neurochemicals to get you through the next day.

Step 7: Test Your Hormones
For ongoing symptoms of stress such as low sex drive, weight gain, headaches, fatigue, it is essential to have the hormones tested. This will often reveal rock bottom testosterone levels (from stress) that cause weight gain, low sex drive, or fatigue. An imbalance between estrogen and progesterone or low thyroid is directly correlated with rapid weight gain and depression.

Step 8: Begin Brain-Training
Avoid negative sayings like ‘I am so stressed’ and replaced them with saying, ‘I choose myself, and am ready for better health, this is not an emergency, I am in control of my life right now.