I’m often asked “What were you diagnosed with? What were those two years of bed, losing your cognitive function, losing the ability to go to the bathroom by yourself, not being able to get up and live your life and feed yourself and do everything on your own anymore? What was that medically diagnosed as? What was your condition? What was your illness?”
For the longest time, I was ashamed to say what the medical diagnosis was. I didn’t want to say what it was, because somehow I thought that reflected on me! The medical diagnosis that I was given was 100%, complete and UTTER burnout. But what did that mean? How was I going to get better? It meant that every single system in my case (because I was an advanced case of burnout – if that’s even possible) had totally shut down.
So how did I get better? I had to fix every single system one by one and get to optimal health again.
I was an extreme case of burnout, but we are also seeing this more and more with clients in our clinic, and as a worldwide trend, especially in today’s environment with so many excess stresses coming into and onto us in this world. Burnout is the number one searched topic. People are looking for answers as to why their body isn’t functioning and working optimally.
For me, it started very subtly. I didn’t go from loving my life, working full-time in an investment bank, running events, triathlons, doing all sorts of sports; to just collapsing in bed and not being able to get up. It started very subtly with me, starting to find work a grind. I started to struggle to get up in the morning. How many people can relate to that?!
Burnout doesn’t happen with just one thing and it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens with a collection and layers of many different things. One way that I’m seeing this in the clinic at the moment is people suddenly now finding themselves too tired, just struggling to get through the day, struggling to do their exercise and go to the gym and be with their families. Irritability is a key one when it comes to burnout. You’re snappy, you’re impatient, you don’t have the compassion and care for others that you used to have. That is a sign that you’re trending towards burnout. Why are you irritable? If everything else has stayed the same, why are you now reacting? You just don’t feel as resilient as you used to or even have the capacity to bounce back.
Here’s an example that I love to share with my corporate clients relating to how my health had gone downhill and I had no idea at this stage. I’d always had a busy life, and I’d always been an overachiever, but one day I was walking to work and I’d stopped off to get coffee (which I had done every single day for the past three years in Sydney) That morning, my Dad rung me on the way to work. My coffee guy knew me so well. I was the only one there at that early time in the morning, so he started to make the coffee for me as he saw me approaching. Dad asked me to just to veer out of my way to get him something on the way to work. It was going to literally take me two minutes. It was only 6:00 AM in the morning. I had plenty of time. It didn’t matter what time I got to work. I was going to be early, and I could always stay later. That didn’t matter.
As dad asked me to do this, tears welled up into my eyes and I just yelled at him. I said “Dad, you don’t even understand the pressure that I’m under; and the stress that I’m under! I cannot do that for you!” At that point, my body was severely burnt out, but I didn’t even know it. I wasn’t in bed yet. I was still fully functioning, but I didn’t have the capacity to give him two minutes.
What we are seeing at the moment in this environment, and in clinic, is so many people through so many layers. For a lot of them it’s not their fault, but life is stressful. Anxiety and anxious thoughts are high, and that in turn impacts your adrenals. It impacts your minerals. It impacts your vitamins. It impacts your mental health, your focus, your clarity, your emotions, your capacity – all of these things.
People that aren’t sleeping well come into the clinic. Detoxification begins with your sleep. So if you are not sleeping properly because your body’s struggling, and you’re feeling fatigue and these anxious thoughts, you are not detoxifying. So that is seven to eight hours where your body isn’t able to get rid of the toxins. So right now, burnout is turning into an epidemic. Right now, this is a conversation that we need to have. People like me, and other practitioners, can’t be ashamed to say that’s what we were diagnosed with. It is a medical condition.
Right now is the time when you’re just feeling a little bit tired to do something about it, to work out “Why?” Because most of us, especially business owners, or government workers, didn’t take a holiday this year. People haven’t had time off. We need holidays to rest and restore and you can tell I’m super passionate about it, because it happened to me, but it can happen to anyone. And we’re seeing this. I’m getting pleas of help in the clinic from people feeling like they’re on the way to burning out, feeling like they can’t cope with all of this anymore.
So for you today, even if it’s just taking five minutes to do something for yourself! Do some square breathing (you know how much I love this). Apply some vagal oil, or just ground yourself and sit in nature. Please do something to reset your adrenals, and to increase your stress beaker so you have more resilience.
It is imperative now more than ever, especially as we approach the lead up to school holidays and Christmas. All these are potentially busy times, where you can pick one thing that you want to do every single day to look at the stress level and the emotional toll on your body. We have the capacity. We have the tools to reverse burnout when we are educated and empowered. So don’t be a statistic. Don’t be one of those numbers going into Christmas absolutely exhausted.
Look after yourself and take your power back. We have the power to look after our own health, our own bodies, our families and friends. And as we do that, we have more capacity, more compassion to love others and have better mental health.