5 Ways To Stay Heathy-ish When You’re Stressed And Near Burnout

Tiffany Lester, MD
April 13, 2017

It’s hard to be healthy 100% of the time. When we find ourselves under a mountain of stress, we are a hundred times more likely to experience symptoms of burnout.

Between work deadlines, a full social calendar, and family or relationship drama—maintaining a healthy diet and consistent exercise regime can fall to the bottom of the list. This is a vicious cycle. Poor nutrition, a lack of sleep and bad eating habits can only make stress worse rather than better.

The Definition of Stress

Stress is a conscious or unconscious psychological feeling or physical situation which comes as a result of physical or/and mental ‘positive or negative pressure’ to overwhelm adaptive capacities. When I read this recently, the part of the definition that stuck out to me was that stress can be positive. While stress is often represented as a negative, it’s really all about balance.

It’s not about never being stressed out just to be healthy. Stress is going to be there. But you can give your body the tools to be resilient enough to withstand anything that is thrown your way. These tools become vital when you start to experience symptoms of burnout .

The symptoms of burnout can include chronic fatigue , insomnia , lack of focus, increased irritability, and more. Almost 90% of doctor’s visits are due to stress that presents as hormone imbalance, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. This is not to say that these aren’t real, clinical conditions but there is often a recurring commonality that is due to elevated stress levels.

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Human beings are resilient. We’re built to withstand much more than we think we are. A sign of good health is being able to tolerate or adapt to many different insults. Health is not about deviating two mm to the left of your routine and then falling apart. The good news is that there are ways you can build up your tolerance to stress.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy When You’re Stressed and Near Burnout

These are some of the tips I give my patients to increase their resilience to withstand everyday stressors:

Go to bed

Staying up late to finish a presentation or waking up super early to fit in a workout before your day starts can actually do more harm than good. Sleep is the only time your body can fully rejuvenate. When we aren’t sleeping enough, this depresses our immune system making it more likely for bacteria or viruses to take hold. And none of us have time to be sick!

Take adaptogenic herbs

Herbs like maca, rhodiola, and ashwaganda have been used for centuries to combat stress. Their adaptogenic qualities help the body become resilient whether your cortisol levels are high or low.

Do yin yoga

Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? We sit to work, to eat, to watch TV, to scroll Instagram. All of this adds up to tight hip muscles, poor posture, and back pain. Combat this with a yin yoga class once a week to relax the brain and body while releasing stored tension in the muscles.

Get acupuncture

Not only can this calm your nervous system but you also receive a built-in meditation . While the needles are in, you can lay quietly while focusing on your breath or a chosen mantra.

Take magnesium

This is the most common mineral deficiency in America. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our body. Taking a daily dose of this vital nutrient can relax your tight muscles and calm your monkey mind so you can focus on your mile-long to-do list. Not sure which type of magnesium supplement is right for you? Watch this video .

Are you suffering from burnout?

If you think you may be experiencing burnout , it is important to address the issue right away because burnout can affect every part aspect of your life including work, family, and social life.

If you are concerned but unsure, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes that may help, including possible treatment for HPA-axis dysfunction .

Tiffany Lester, MD

Dr. Tiffany Lester is a board-certified Integrative Medicine Physician who has practiced a holistic approach to health for over a decade. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where she completed her training in internal medicine. She also graduated from the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil, and has extensive training in functional medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Lester is also featured as a teacher for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and regularly contributes to national wellness publications.

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