Low energy? Motivation non-existent? Immune system shot to pieces? Nerve system on an endless cycle of fight or flight? You might be burnt out!

Burnout is not a new condition, but it is fast becoming a modern day epidemic. Long covid, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, post viral fatigue: all examples of exhaustion and possible contributors to burnout.

When we say that we’re burnt out, it’s like we have a fire that has run out of fuel and and the heat is diminishing. Our life-force is spent! And instead of tending to it with care, we burn the candle at both ends. From a young age high energy lifestyles, productivity, workaholism, overexercise, are all seen as normal, even desirable ways to live our life. Someone who works harder, is fitter, parties harder, is applouded. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, we forgot a simple fact; that rest is critical to our health. And by rest I mean the ability to sit or lie down and do nothing. Walk in nature without having to hit a certain number of steps or heart rate. the ability to be satifsfied with just walking and breathing.

Then there is the overstimulation of our minds; they never switch off. Time on technology, time spent driving, texting, on social media, watching TV, Netflix, etc are all still draining our energy. It’s like buying a brand new car, and then driving it flat out til it breaks. Even cars need to stop, be serviced, and filled with fuel or they break.

Signs of Taxation/Burnout

  • low energy, fatigue
  • low immunity
  • frequent colds, flu’s
  • irregular bowel movements
  • poor circulation
  • lower back pain
  • fluid retention
  • excessive urination
  • cold hands and feet
  • low appetite, nausea
  • bloating in the lower abdomen
  • insomnia
  • dry, brittle or thinning hair
  • loss of menstrual cycle

The 3 keys to healing burnout

The three biggest influences of your recovery from burnout will be the food you eat, the breath you take and the rest you allow yourself.

Food should be fresh and seasonal. It should be eaten in a relaxed manor and served at a temperature suitable for the season. Eating with friends and family can help improve digestion, as will avoiding too much cold food and drink (as this tends to slow the digestive process and encourage bloating).

Your breath should be slow, deep, relaxed and rhythmic. Check your breathing now. Do you notice any tension in your gut? Are your shoulders tight? Are you breathing into your belly or is just your upper chest moving with each breath? If any of these things are occurring, then you are not getting the most out of every breath. To change this, simply notice the issues and then gently guide them towards your desired outcome. Soften the shoulders, relax the belly and feel everything let go. when this happens your breath deepens and your body will begin to feel lighter and fresher.

Rest is so important, but very often ignored by people in recovery. In fact, most of the time, the moment people start to feel a little recovered, they do away with the notion of rest and get back ‘at it’ hard again. Unfortunately, this approach typically leads people right back to fatigue, exhaustion and burnout. Rest more than you think necessary and for longer than you would typically allow yourself. With adequate rest, great recovery is possible.

What is burnout in Chinese medicine?

A simple way of viewing burnout is in terms of yin and yang. Yin and yang is a concept that defines reality in relationships mutually opposing and dependent opposites. We need day to know that it is night, cold in order that we know heat, dry that we know wet. Yin and yang must exist in balance for harmony to exist. In terms of our long term health a lifestyle that is too yang: too active, stimulating, busy, rushed, stressed, and less yin will deplete yang and we simply won’t have enough energy to function-like water that once flowed freely we become stuck, stagnant, yin. Without enough energy in the body the function of internal organs becomes sluggish, blood flow becomes weak, and the mind becomes unanchored, ungrounded and overactive.

For many, somewhere in life our nervous system becomes used to living in a chronically stressed state and it becomes our new normal. When there is imbalance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, we are in a state of using energy, rather than replenishing it. Even if this is subtle, over time this depletes our vitality, our essence (jing), the blood and fluid of the body. Classically this was known as Taxation, or Taxation deficiency.

How does an acupuncturist work with burnout?

As mentioned before, burnout is a deficiency condition. The first thing an acupuncturist will do is establish why you are burnt out, then advise lifestyle changes to remedy that. Acupuncture treatment is aimed at calming the nervous system, allowing the body to rest and recover.

There are a range of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your energy levels

  • Reduce stress: work less. Where possible reduce your work. Or better yet find employment in a field that energises you, and where you enjoy what you do
  • Rest, rest, rest: ensure you’re getting good quality sleep each night- eight hours (on average) of unbroken sleep and you should aim to be in bed by 9pm
  • Relaxation: relaxation is critical to reducing the effects of stress on your system. Activities like yoga, meditation, walking, mindfulness, meditation, mindful breathing are all great tools for calming your nervous system.
  • Diet: Eat good, healthy nourishing food that you enjoy. Local, seasonal, and organic produce is best. Meat, eggs, ghee, and fish are particularly tonifying. Eliminate processed food (food made with flours, sugar, seed oils like canola etc)
  • Switch off technology: technology dependence is draining and inherently technology is very stimulating. Aim to be off technology for a couple of hours before bedtime, and have a day a week where you turn off all your devices. Try it you might just love it.
  • Slow down: exercise less, rush less, do less busy, less stressed.

Suffering from burnout? Or simply have low energy. Peter is here to help guide you back to a vibrant, energetic and healthy way of being with tailored herbal and acupuncture treatment, lifestyle advice, and a treatment plan that meets your individual health goals.