By Tiffany Lester, MD, for Parsley Health
It’s hard to be healthy 100% of the time. When we find ourselves under a mountain of stress, we are a hundred times more likely to experience symptoms of burnout.
Between work deadlines, a full social calendar, and family or relationship drama—maintaining a healthy diet and consistent exercise regime can fall to the bottom of the list. This is a vicious cycle. Poor nutrition, a lack of sleep and bad eating habits can only make stress worse rather than better.
The Definition of Stress
Stress is a conscious or unconscious psychological feeling or physical situation which comes as a result of physical or/and mental ‘positive or negative pressure’ to overwhelm adaptive capacities. When I read this recently, the part of the definition that stuck out to me was that stress can be positive. While stress is often represented as a negative, it’s really all about balance.
It’s not about never being stressed out just to be healthy. Stress is going to be there. But you can give your body the tools to be resilient enough to withstand anything that is thrown your way. These tools become vital when you start to experience symptoms of burnout.
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The symptoms of burnout can include chronic fatigue, insomnia, lack of focus, increased irritability, and more. Almost 90% of doctor’s visits are due to stress that presents as hormone imbalance, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. This is not to say that these aren’t real, clinical conditions but there is often a recurring commonality that is due to elevated stress levels.
Human beings are resilient. We’re built to withstand much more than we think we are. A sign of good health is being able to tolerate or adapt to many different insults. Health is not about deviating two mm to the left of your routine and then falling apart. The good news is that there are ways you can build up your tolerance to stress. These are some of the tips I give my patients to increase their resilience to withstand everyday stressors.
5 Ways to Stay Healthy-ish When You’re Stressed and Near Burnout
- Go to bed. Staying up late to finish a presentation or waking up super early to fit in a workout before your day starts can actually do more harm than good. Sleep is the only time your body can fully rejuvenate. When we aren’t sleeping this depresses our immune system making it more likely for bacteria or viruses to take hold. And none of us have time to be sick!
- Take adaptogenic herbs. Herbs like maca, rhodiola, and ashwaganda have been used for centuries to combat stress. Their adaptogenic qualities help the body become resilient whether your cortisol levels are high or low.
- Do yin yoga. Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? We sit to work, to eat, to watch TV, to scroll Instagram. All of this adds up to tight hip muscles, poor posture, and back pain. Combat this with a yin yoga class once a week to relax the brain and body while releasing stored tension in the muscles.
- Get acupuncture. Not only can this calm your nervous system but you also receive a built-in meditation. While the needles are in, you can lay quietly while focusing on your breath or a chosen mantra.
- Take magnesium. This is the most common mineral deficiency in America. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our body. Taking a daily dose of this vital nutrient can relax your tight muscles and calm your monkey mind so you can focus on your mile-long to-do list.
Don’t know if you are close to burnout? Take our burnout quiz. If your score is high, our highly trained doctors at Parsley Health can help with state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and a comprehensive work-up with our health team.
This piece was originally published on Parsley Health. Parsley Health is a groundbreaking medical practice of highly trained doctors and health coaches in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Parsley Health takes a smarter, whole approach to helping you live a healthy life. You deserve a better doctor. Sign up here to speak to a health expert to figure out how Parsley Health can help you achieve your goals today.