Burnout And Your Hormones

by | Sep 20, 2023 | Burnout | 0 comments

It is September and another working year swings into action. Hopefully you have been able to rest deeply during the summer, but as we know home and family questions loom large and bring their own stresses.

As we move into darker skies, be aware of how you are feeling. Try and step out into the light first thing in the morning and you already know the advice about leaving the phone alone till later in the morning.

Isn’t it funny how there is so much information our there about keeping well and healthy, and how so little of that info turns into knowledge you can helpfully use day to day.

You can manage your stress levels by doing something that you enjoy and don’t get caught up too much in the ‘I should be meditating’ mindset. Find out first what YOU enjoy.

We are in the end bags of hormones; our responses to stress, pain and pleasure light up a huge dashboard of chemicals in the form of hormones. We learn to become controllers of the dashboard-more or less!

In times of stress, your body will release cortisol after releasing its “fight or flight” hormones, such as adrenaline, so you stay on high alert. Cortisol also sets off the release of glucose (sugar) from your liver for fast energy during times of stress.

Cortisol is a regulator of so many functions; sleep, how you digest and how you process threats to your immune system. It is overproduced when you are in permanent fight or flight mode.

You have heard the story of the saber tooth tiger coming for our ancestors, adrenaline and cortisol kick in until the threat is over, which helps you understand the need to run off to safety as well as providing you with the energy to do so. But what if your body doesn’t recognize when stress is over? What if the stress isn’t as obvious as the saber tooth tiger?

Overly stressed people aren’t necessarily hyper. Their responses can often be quite slow, their speech patterns slow down as well. Burnout may be near as cortisol, the key stress hormone, floods the body regularly and repeatedly.

The WHO defines burnout as chronic stress, with the following key characteristics:-

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion. That could include:
  • Insomnia.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Increased illnesses, such as colds.
  1. Increased mental distance from one’s role or feeling negative toward it. That could include:
  • Depression or general feelings of hopelessness.
  • Increased anxiety, cynicism or anger.
  • Apathy or detachment.
  1. Reduced effectiveness. That could include:
  • Decreased motivation and productivity.
  • Trouble focusing.
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.

Stress is built up in layers. Imagine how much we do in a day as humans. The emotional, physical and mental interactions we engage in minute by minute, then compound this over weeks, months and years, Add a layer of upbringing, puberty and life changes. Throw in some global issues for good measure. It’s actually a wonder we function so well when you think about it. Pat yourself on the back!

If you want to do deeper work on managing your stress, you can start by unlayering, peeling an onion if you will, to uncover the root causes of the types of stress in your life. This is where a health coach can help you, just like the health coach who helped me 9 years ago.

Anna Chern is a dual certified (US and UK) Health Coach and full member of the UK and International Health Coaching Association.

Written by Anna Chern

Written by Anna Chern

Integrative Nutrition Health CoachMA, IINHealth Coach certification, 200 Hr Yoga Instructor

01423 595 000

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