The Exhaustion Epidemic
Published: November 13, 2014 Last Updated: August 11, 2021
It’s getting to that time of the year again when the tank starts to run low. Christmas Carols in the supermarket send shivers down your spine when all you can think about is the To Do list to tick off before the end of December. Work is insane, in addition to the kids’ complicated schedules, not to mention the daily responsibilities of running a semi-functional household, consuming three square meals and remembering to breathe!
In fact, society today dictates that if we aren’t busy, we aren’t productive. The stigma around “keeping up” with our friends, neighbours, colleagues, means we are often left striving for the unattainable goal of perfection. This idealism usually means that happiness and contentment lie just out of reach – but if we just try that little harder and do that little bit more, life will be so much better.
Never before have we been so technologically connected, which means there are fewer opportunities to switch off. Emails, texts and phone calls come through at any time of day, which can all be actioned immediately from our smartphones During our downtime, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are an easy distraction. It is human nature to compare our lives to others, but social comparison has been taken to a whole new level because of the one-sided, aspirational facades being uploaded to social media, which feeds low self-esteem, anxiety and loneliness.
Scrolling through our newsfeeds and checking emails brings missed opportunities for meaningful connections with our loved ones, like conversation or intimacy. We rely on the snooze button to get us out of bed in the morning and push through our circadian rhythms without even recognising them.
Fertility issues are becoming increasingly common now. And it’s a little wonder. We are so busy multi-tasking that when it comes to being present in the moment long enough to be intimate, it’s a miracle that any of us find the time to procreate. The innate ability for our bodies to fall pregnant also requires a certain amount of energy, and if we are constantly exhausted, it just won’t happen.
We are over-stimulated, distracted, and physically and emotionally exhausted!
So what can we do to avoid complete burnout and the health issues that come with it?
If you’re not coping, seek assistance. This might include talking to family, or your employer about mounting levels of stress. Utilise the resources available to you, and take back control of your life by setting boundaries and recognising your limits.
If you feel like you can't do it alone, find services in your area that will help. Counselling can offer support and guidance to work through escalating pressures in home and work life. By investing the time and energy in re-prioritising goals and values, you can better understand your difficulties and how to improve them, which flows on to improve your psychological and emotional well-being.
Relaxation therapies such as massage and acupuncture can keep you thriving in times of stress and worry, and help to prevent chronic health conditions.
Remember to breathe
Sit quietly. Consciously do nothing. Meditate if you can. Put on your favourite song and listen to it for the full 5 minutes without doing anything else but breathing with your eyes closed.
Vitamin D3 is a vital nutrient for hormone production, which includes Melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, as well as Dopamine and Serotonin, the hormones for feeling good. Nature connects us with the wonders of the world, which can bring a sense of gratitude as well as grounding us in the present moment.
Watch your diet
It’s easy to keep reaching for coffee and sugar-laden snacks to keep your energy up. But if you’re already exhausted, stimulating your adrenals in this way is literally like kicking a dead horse. You will end up depleted and miserable.
Nourish your body with phytonutrients from lots of fruit and vegetables, consume good quality fats and proteins to help detoxify, decrease inflammation in the body and prevent chronic conditions caused by stress.
Even if all you feel like doing is collapsing in a heap at the end of the day with a glass of wine, some gentle exercise such as walking or yoga can help to boost endorphins and metabolism to keep your immune system from becoming stagnant. It can help with having a good night’s sleep and boost energy levels throughout the day.
Recognising the difference between stress and burnout is also important. Stress tends to produce a sense of urgency and hyperactivity, paired with loss of energy and commonly anxiety. Burnout is characterised by a loss of motivation and disengagement with family, friends and colleagues. It can lead to depressive disorders and a sense of hopelessness.
If you know your limits, or at least attempt to work within them, you can take back control of your life, your time and your health.
And don’t forget to ask for help from your western health professionals or naturopath if you need it.