“The world belongs to those with the most energy” – Alexis de Tocqueville
Following on from my blog post on Burnout, these are my top five steps for helping you to recover. Don’t rush out and do all of them at once – you will exhaust yourself even more!
My advice would be each day to add in one new thing (food, activity etc) and remove one bad thing.
1 – Slow down
Stop pushing yourself so hard. Your body needs some tlc and gentle coaxing back to life.
And of course that does not mean taking to bed for days and weeks on end. But it does mean a slower, more gentle approach to day-to-day life – less rushing around and more of a slow gentle savouring of each moment.
And stop multi-tasking. I can’t overstate this one. By spending your days juggling too many tasks at once, you spend your days in perpetual firefighting mode, which only exacerbates burnout. With every activity, both business and leisure, aim to focus on that one activity alone – until it is complete. And whilst filing your tax return may be difficult to savour (I feel your pain!), if you approach it with full focus (and some good music on the stereo) it will become less stressful. This one change alone can transform your energy and effectiveness!
2 – Nourish yourself deeply
Your system is severely depleted. Now is not the time to cleanse! You need warmth and deep nourishment to build you back up again.
Eat warming, natural, whole foods. This means loading up on vegetables, healthy proteins (pulses, eggs, lean meats and fish, organic where possible) and good fats, such as olive oil, avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds, all of which will revitalise your sluggish system. Go easy on fruit however due to its sugar content. Cutting down on hard-to-digest foods such as wheat, dairy and gluten will free up more energy for you. Also, try to avoid too many cold or raw foods in the colder winter months.
Cut out sugar and stimulants such as coffee, as these are extraordinarily taxing on your energy levels, leading to longer term unstable blood sugar, which has a host of far more serious implications, including type 2 diabetes.
3 – Reduce toxic load
There is now a proliferation of chemicals in our daily life which our bodies don’t recognise. Whether we eat or drink them, put them on our skin, or inhale them, essentially it is the equivalent of putting plastic into our systems. Our body treats them like a poison, our liver gets exhausted trying to detoxify this overload and can’t keep up, toxins get stored in your fat cells and eventually this can damage the liver too. And all this clogging up of your body will make you sluggish, achy, cranky and fat!
The main culprits:
- Processed foods: Always read the labels – avoid anything with additives or preservatives.
- Electronic pollution: Don’t carry your mobile in your pocket. Always turn off broadband and all electronics when you are not using them – especially at night! And never sleep with a mobile on in your bedroom.
- Chemical toxins: Check your toiletries and household cleaners etc. Switch to more natural options wherever possible. Get rid of all air fresheners, particularly the continuous ones – they are poison to your liver.
4 – Restore routine & rhythm
Our bodies have in-built circadian rhythms that ebb and flow with the day. If we go along with them everything is easier – we are moving with the flow and not pushing upstream.
However, if we try to push against these, ignoring our natural body rhythms – taking on too much, working late at night, pushing ourselves when our bodies need to rest – we will upset our natural rhythms and put even more stress on our already exhausted bodies. So get back into a rhythm that works with your body, not against it:
- Eat at regular times – and make sure you sit down at a table to eat them. Never ever eat on the run. And don’t eat after 8pm
- Get plenty of fresh air and sun (when we have it!) – sunlight is vital for our health and wellbeing
- Switch off your computer by 8.30pm
- Get to bed by 10.30 latest. The sleep you get before midnight is worth twice the hours you get after midnight
- Don’t read or watch tv in bed – and definitely do not work on your computer! Keep electronics out of the bedroom as they can seriously disrupt sleep
- Ensure your bedroom is dark. Invest in blackout blinds or wear an eye mask
- Make time for fun and friends
5 – Move
Our bodies need to metabolise and process everything they take in – be it food, substances or thoughts and emotions – to metabolise the good and eliminate the bad. If we are too sedentary, these processes will not flow freely, our systems get clogged up and can’t work effectively.
Our bodies were built to move. Do something every day – but do take it gently.
If you are recovering from burnout, it’s not a good idea to go for vigorous routines at the gym – this will only deplete you further.
Start exercising by just including some gentle stretches every day. Then build up to include some restorative yoga postures or Tai Chi. And try to include a half hour walk each day in the open air.
Do get support from someone who will encourage you and keep you motivated.
Above all – be gentle with yourself.
If you follow this advice and take small daily steps, you will soon be feeling and looking more like your usual self.
Jules Anderson BSc (Hons), Dip ITEC, CHHC
Jules is a health & nutrition coach specialising in stress related conditions.
For more details, please visit her website at