While we may only be a quarter of the way through the year, already thousands of office workers are feeling the creeping signs of burnout as they crawl towards the Easter long weekend.
But there are ways you can minimise your stress levels and improve your nervous system.
Recently, Australian nutritionist, Jessica Sepel, took a look at stress, burnout and its impact on our body in her new book, Living The Healthy Life.
Here, FEMAIL shares some of her top tips for combatting stress – and how you can help your ‘rest and digest’ function, to bring your body to a state of calm.
Recently, Australian nutritionist, Jessica Sepel (pictured), took a look at stress, burnout and its impact on our body
Jessica (pictured) revealed the signs of burnout include weight gain around the middle, poor digestive function, poor sleep and low motivation among other things
The signs of burnout
* Hormone or blood-sugar imbalance
* Impaired thyroid function
* Weight gain, especially around your middle
* Poor digestive function
* Poor sleep and tiredness upon waking
* Low motivation
* Increased incidence of emotional and binge eating
* Intense sugar cravings
Source: Jessica Sepel
While you might think stress in our day-to-day life is inevitable – and you’d be right – according to Jessica, it’s all about tailoring your stress levels so they don’t impact your adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress:
‘Ongoing stress – whether it be emotional, environmental or physical – and high levels of cortisol are disastrous for the adrenals,’ she writes in her new book, Living The Healthy Life.
‘When overworked adrenals crash, they result is adrenal exhaustion – which comes with all kinds of fun symptoms like exhaustion, chronic fatigue, anxiety, intense sugar cravings and lack of motivation.’
She explained that the physical manifestations of stress or the signs of burnout include hormone or blood-sugar imbalance, impaired thyroid function, weight gain around your middle, poor digestion and bad sleep.
You may also see low motivation and an increased desire to eat sugar.
Jessica’s number one tip for beating burnout is eating slowly and in a calm state – she also recommends chewing your food thoroughly and avoiding rushing
Speaking about the rise of burnout, Professor Gordon Parker from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Black Dog Institute, recently explained that while it may feel like a modern affliction, in fact it’s just worsened in recent times:
‘Burnout has existed for far longer than just the modern 21st century workplace, but advances in new technology and the 24/7 nature of mobile devices may be exacerbating factors,’ he said.
‘Precarious working conditions created by the “gig economy” could also be causing greater stress on workers, carers and families.
‘Yet there is currently no way for health professionals to make a complete burnout diagnosis, given the variability in the way patients describe their symptoms. We still know relatively little about its root causes.’
Jessica (pictured) said you can minimise stress levels by taking a break from excessive and intense exercise, and entering a stress-free zone every single day where you avoid emails
How to reduce burnout
* Eat in a calm environment and try to avoid eating in a stressed state as you won’t digest well.
* Chew your food thoroughly and quit rushing.
* Take a break from excessive and intense exercise.
* Incorporate good fats and good quality carbohydrates into your diet.
* Enter a ‘stress-free zone’ every single day for 10-20 minutes, when you have zero emails, phones or computers. If it helps, delete your social media apps for a period.
* Try supplements like B complex, vitamin C, adrenal herb supplements and magnesium at night.
* Put your legs up against a wall, close your eyes and breathe deeply to relax.
So how can you minimise your stress, reduce potential signs of burnout and get your body into a state of calm?
For the Sydney-based nutritionist, Jessica Sepel, it all starts with re-centring your attitude towards food:
‘When your body is stressed, your digestion slows down,’ she writes in her book.
‘The blood diverts away from the digestive tract to other parts of the body, as part of the “fight or flight” response.
‘So, one of my biggest tips is to always eat in a calm environment.
‘Never eat while you’re in a stressed state because you won’t digest that food as well.’
She recommends chewing your food thoroughly, and quitting rushing, which – although difficult when you’re busy – can make all the difference.
She also recommends including good fats and good quality carbohydrates in your diet, which can help you to relax
Jessica’s second tip for reducing signs of burnout is to take a break from excessive and intense exercise.
She also recommends including good fats and good quality carbohydrates in your diet, which can help you to relax.
‘To combat your stress, I suggest you enter what I call the Stress-Free Zone every single day for 10-20 minutes,’ Jessica added.
In reality, this means no phone, computers, emails or social media – instead spend your time reading, relaxing, walking or meditating.
Jessica’s new book, Living the Healthy Life (pictured), is out now
Finally, Jessica revealed how you can minimise stress by way of taking some supplements, with the guidance of a health practitioner.
She is a fan of B complex, vitamin C, adrenal herb supplements and magnesium, taken at night.
You can do this by way of an Epsom salts bath, which can help to replenish the body’s magnesium levels and is beloved by celebrities from Victoria Beckham to Heidi Klum.
‘Also, try putting your legs up against the wall for ten minutes,’ she concluded.
‘Then close your eyes and breathe deeply. It really relaxes you.’
With regards to supplements, Jessica (pictured) recommends magnesium at night, as well as vitamin C – she said putting your legs up a wall can really help you to relax
The Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney are inviting people to take part in a 30-minute survey about their feelings of burnout.
The study is open to anyone aged between 18-65 who feel as though they are experiencing burnout, whether in the workplace, while studying, in retirement or as part of caring duties. For more information, please click here.
If you would like to find out more about Jessica Sepel’s new book, please visit her website here.