Springtime brings relief for many of us – sunnier days, milder weather, and rain to wash away the old snow. It’s a transformative season, and it can be transformative for our bodies too. Our circadian rhythms shift, our metabolism boosts, the sunshine starts giving us more vitamin D and other good things, our mood lifts… and a lot of people start to just feel better.
What happens, though, when everyone else is feeling spring fever but you aren’t quite feeling better? You’re still tired (and that time change didn’t help). You’re still feeling low or anxious, maybe with aches and pains when you wake up in the morning, or your digestion doesn’t seem to be working anymore. If you’re waiting for that great feeling of spring but find yourself struggling with symptoms anyway, there might be something else going on - burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is actually a medical term. According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) it is a physical and emotional exhaustion state, not otherwise classified. Sounds serious, right? And it certainly sounds like something you wouldn’t be able to miss if it was happening to you. Often though, we can be living in a burnout state without knowing it.
Burnout can affect nearly every body system. It can cause fatigue and poor sleep, low blood pressure and dizziness, bloating and loose stools or constipation (or both). It could cause headaches and other body aches, frequent illnesses and infections, appetite changes, weight loss or weight gain, skin rashes, and so much more. It can also affect our mental health, leading to feelings all along the spectrum of anxiety and depression, from mild to debilitating and everything in between.
So, with all this going on, why don’t we seek medical attention? Often it’s because the initial stages of burnout are our own unique collection of otherwise ‘mild’ symptoms that are manageable in the beginning. As a result, even though something quite serious is happening with our health we are able to keep on living as we are, pushing through our day to day lives.
Our bodies have a remarkable ability to adjust to illness and stressors – our physiology literally changes to meet the demands we’re experiencing, whether they are physical or emotional or both. Add on to this the even more impressive ability of our psychology to deny or avoid the stressors we’re experiencing - even body symptoms we are physically feeling - and we’re left with a common medical condition that is commonly untreated.
There is good news, though! This burnout, experienced by many, can be treated. Even if none our external circumstances can change - the life stressors or other causes of burnout - there are safe and effective ways to support ourselves while we are coping with chronic stress.
In naturopathic medicine, our aim is to ease the stress on each body system in order to reduce symptoms while also working to increase the resiliency of the body and mind. We can restore our vitality, better cope with stressors in the future, and have our physical and emotional energy working for us.
If your springtime seems to have more showers than flowers, you might be experiencing burnout. Book an appointment now, and we’ll get you started feeling better before the season ends.