Cases of burnout spike in January after going back to work, but there are things you can do to help yourself avoid it. You know that exercising is good for releasing stress, but have you ever thought about how your food could help you with how you feel? asks Health Coach Phoebe Webb.
Burnout is a result of feeling physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted for a long period of time. It comes after suffering from stress and overwhelm constantly over weeks, months and even years. It can come from various sources such as work, family, and social expectations, and it can show itself in many forms like fatigue, headaches, constipation, bloating, skin rash, and brain fog to name a few. You might find yourself emotionally drained, unable to think straight and failing to keep up with your work.
When you experience stress you have high levels of cortisol in your body, which is your bodies main stress hormone. This hormone is there to help you cope with stressful situations and it comes in useful for certain things like when you’re working towards a deadline, but if your cortisol levels stay high long term this is when problems start to occur.
Stress depletes nutrients from your body, and it also hinders the absorption of new nutrients that you should be getting from the food that you eat. Every moment you spend in a stressful state you are using up valuable nutrients, so eating whole and nutritious foods is important to keep those nutrient levels up.There are certain vitamins and minerals that are particularly sensitive to stress, so make sure you’re getting plenty of these from your diet to help lower your symptoms; B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium.
B vitamins are your energy vitamins. There are eight different B vitamins in total, and you can get them from your diet by eating animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, fish and seafood. You can also get them from plant-based foods like leafy greens and legumes but they don’t have the same levels as animal products so if you are vegan or vegetarian you might have to take B Complex supplements.
Vitamin C helps to make anti-stress hormones in your body, our adrenal glands need vitamin C for instant energy when we are stressed. It also helps your body to absorb iron, which means you have more oxygen in your cells which leads to having more energy. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamin C like peppers, cabbage, peas, oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes.
Magnesium helps to support your nervous system, energy production and it helps to balance your hormones, all very important when overcoming burnout. You can find magnesium in foods such as nuts, potato skin and crab however, it is very common to be deficient in this mineral because of the poor quality soil our food is grown in. I recommend taking a magnesium supplement in the evenings.
Another nutrient that is vital when it comes to beating burnout is Omega-3 because it is essential for your brain health and supporting your nervous system. Did you know that approximately 60 per cent of your brain is made of fat and over half of that fat is the omega-3 kind? This is why it’s such an important nutrient for your cognitive function and memory, it helps to reduce inflammation in your body. Eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines two to three times a week, as well as including olive oil, nuts and avocados into your diet. If you don’t eat fish you can buy algae supplements.
When you are experiencing symptoms of burnout it is really important to eat less sugary and processed foods and instead eat more whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood and legumes. These will keep your energy levels higher for longer and top up the nutrients that your cortisol levels are depleting at the same time.
Regarding the supplements I have mentioned above, it is advised to check with your doctor or qualified nutritionist before taking any of them, especially if you are on medication.
Phoebe Webb, a qualified Health Coach specialising in helping people to overcome burnout through diet and lifestyle changes.