In this episode, I want to thoroughly cover the signs of burnout, the different types of burnout patterns, and most importantly, how you can recover based on your unique individual burnout type.
I’m passionate about this work because I’ve been through burnout myself multiple times and had to figure out how to recover. Stress is a part of life – but with the right tools you can feel energized and empowered instead of depleted.
Now I’ve made it my mission to guide others through the step-by-step process of overcoming burnout and coming back to vibrant health. It’s deeply gratifying to help people get their lives back after years of merely surviving.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a condition defined as chronic stress leading to emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. The key signs of burnout include lack of energy, anxiety, poor sleep, trouble focusing, and various physical symptoms.
The term burnout has been loosely used for many years, but it has recently been officially defined as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization. However, there is still a stigma attached to experiencing burnout or other mental health issues related to chronic stress.
I want to emphasize that burnout can happen to anyone, at any age, whether you have a job/career or not. All generations go through periods of burnout, but recent studies indicate that Gen Z (born 1997-2012) reports the highest rates of burnout at 91%, compared to other generations.
Why are Younger Adults More Susceptible to Burnout?
There are several potential reasons behind this:
- Going through the pandemic during critical developmental years
- Entering the workforce post-pandemic with less experience interacting in-person
- Fears over job stability and finances
- Tendency to overwork and not establish boundaries
- Less life experience coping with high stress
However, while burnout may be more prevalent among Gen Z currently, it’s important to understand it can happen to anyone when stress is unmanaged over long periods without adequate recovery. The chronic stress response takes its toll on the body and mind.
That’s why recognizing the signs of burnout within yourself is so important.
5 Key Areas When Identifying Burnout
- Energy Level – Do you feel like you have very low energy? Difficulty getting out of bed, needing naps, relying on caffeine to get through the day can indicate compromised energy due to burnout.
- Mood – Is your overall mood lower? Are you unable to enjoy activities you used to find pleasurable? Do you feel unmotivated, apathetic, sad, or excessively worried? This can manifest as anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.
- Sleep – Have you noticed your sleep is disrupted? Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking early, or insufficient sleep are common signs of burnout.
- Focus – Are you unable to focus or concentrate like you used to? Do you experience brain fog, distracted thinking, or an inability to complete tasks? Focus and cognition are impaired.
- Physical Symptoms – Look out for any of the following physical symptoms as potential signs of burnout: headaches, stomach upset, muscle aches, skin issues, hormonal imbalances, difficulty conceiving, susceptibility to illnesses (HPV positive, abnormal pap), or increased inflammation and pain.
How Chronic Stress Leads to Burnout
When we encounter any type of stressor (emotional, physical, or toxic), our body’s natural response is to release cortisol and adrenaline – our primary stress hormones. This stress response is very adaptive and helpful for short bursts of stress or dangerous situations.
However, when stress is constant, and/or traumatic, and we don’t get adequate recovery, our stress hormones can become depleted or imbalanced. Our adrenal glands that produce cortisol and adrenaline struggle to keep up with the high demand.
Sometimes this is referred to as “adrenal fatigue” or dysautonomia. I prefer to use the term “adrenal distress.”
Over weeks, months or years of chronic stress, this causes the symptoms of burnout to emerge. It looks different in each person based on many factors.
Through two decades of stress research, I’ve identified 5 major burnout patterns that can occur depending on a person’s stress type.
- Stress Magnets: Characterized by elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels. This is the most classic type of burnout that many people assume is the only version.
- Blah and Blue: The opposite pattern of low cortisol and adrenaline. These individuals feel unable to handle any more stress.
- Night Owls: Normal cortisol during the day but high levels at night, disrupting sleep.
- Sluggish and Stressed: High cortisol but low adrenaline. They feel fatigued and overwhelmed.
- Tired and Wired: Low cortisol but high adrenaline. Excess nervous energy but crashing.
The reasons these different patterns evolve are quite complex, involving genetics, metabolism, early life experiences, etc. I dive much deeper into the science behind the 5 stress types in my book, Master Your Stress Reset Your Health.
How Can We Recover from Burnout?
Recovering requires a targeted approach based on your individual burnout pattern.
One-size-fits all suggestions rarely work for recovery from burnout. This is because diet, sleep, exercise and stress management affect each burnout type differently.
Let’s consider some examples:
- A Blah and Blue stress type needs to exercise less than a Tired and Wired. Too much exercise makes them worse.
- Night Owls require earlier bedtimes, no screen time at night. But Stress Magnets need mindfulness before bed, not necessarily earlier sleep.
- Adaptogens like Rhodiola help blah & blue types but aggravate Stress Magnets.
This is why I created a free quiz to identify your burnout type based on your symptoms and cortisol/adrenaline levels. You can take it here.
TAKE THE FREE STRESS QUIZ TO FIND OUT YOUR STRESS TYPE:
Once you understand your burnout pattern, I can then guide you on the nutrition, sleep, exercise, recovery activities and stress management that will work for your unique situation.
Then you can start to feel better! With the right support, your adrenal glands can absolutely heal and recover from burnout, it just takes strategic care catered to your stress type.
There are some foundational steps that benefit anyone recovering from burnout. I call this the C.A.R.E.protocol:
- C – Clean Eating: Follow an anti-inflammatory diet high in vegetables, fruits, clean proteins. Remove inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and excess sugar. Stay hydrated. Time meals for steady energy.
- A – Adequate Sleep: Make sleep a priority. Keep a consistent bedtime/wake time. Limit blue light exposure at night. Create an optimal sleep environment. Nap if needed.
- R – Recovery Activities: Build in small breaks during the day. Spend time in nature, listening to music, meditating, laughing, praying, dancing, reading, being creative, cuddling pets. Find things that bring you joy and relaxation.
- E – Exercise: Get regular exercise, but modify the duration and intensity based on your burnout type. Some need more energizing exercise, others require gentler movement.
The C.A.R.E. basics give your body the fundamental nourishment and rest it needs to start recovering from burnout. But you can optimize your C.A.R.E. protocol by customizing it specifically for your stress pattern.
In my book I guide you step-by-step on how to tailor your nutrition, sleep habits, recovery activities, exercise routine and stress management to your unique burnout type.
Whether you tend to be a stress magnet, blah and blue, night owl, sluggish and stressed, or tired and wired, you’ll discover exactly how to recalibrate your C.A.R.E. protocol to target your imbalances and get back to health.
With the properly tailored changes, your adrenal glands and stress hormone levels can reset. This restores energy, mood, sleep, focus and physical health. You begin to feel like yourself again. Just as essentially, you establish resilience against future burnout. That way if stress ramps up, you’re prepared to handle it without plummeting back into burnout.
I’m very excited to teach more on this topic at my upcoming free masterclass “Calm in the Storm: Techniques for Healing Your Body and Mind.” This will empower you to master your stress – not by trying to eliminate it altogether, but by understanding your body’s needs and patterns.
Stress is simply a part of life. There will always be stressors and even intense “storms” that come along. But once you know your stress type, you gain tools to stay resilient and healthy during these challenges.
You learn how to quickly self-correct when you feel stress creeping up again. That way small issues don’t spiral into major burnout. You create lasting habits for thriving through life’s ups and downs.
In the Calm in the Storm Masterclass, we’ll cover:
- Identifying your unique stress type with warning signs
- Fine-tuning your C.A.R.E. protocol by stress pattern
- Advanced nutrition, supplements and lifestyle tips
- Cultivating daily joy and relaxation
- Rewiring your beliefs around stress
- Creating community for ongoing support
I hope the information today gives you more insight into burnout – its subtle warning signs, different patterns it can take, and how recovery can be tailored to your unique needs.
Please subscribe and continue joining me for more episodes focused on recovering from stress and burnout.
And absolutely reach out to me if you need extra support customizing your own burnout recovery plan. Now that you understand the various burnout types, we can collaborate to create an individualized protocol to restore your health, energy and joy in life!
My team and I can help identify your specific burnout pattern, the root causes, which areas to prioritize, advanced testing you may need, optimal supplements, and personalized lifestyle changes.
With proper individualization, most people fully recover from even years-long burnout. You regain mental clarity, physical vitality and emotional stability. Your body resets and you establish long-term resilience against stress overload.
My own journey fuels my commitment to support you in reclaiming your energy, sleep, mood and health. I hope you feel encouraged knowing there are solutions and you are not alone! Stay tuned for more.
If you want to learn more about how stress and trauma affect us, and how to heal using Dr. Doni’s Stress Recovery Protocol® which involves optimizing cortisol and adrenaline levels using nutrients, herbs and C.A.R.E.™, her proprietary program to support clean eating, adequate sleep, stress recovery and exercise, you can read all about it in my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health.
If you are you constantly feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tired, or just not feeling yourself you can join Dr. Doni’s FREE virtual masterclass – “Calm in the Storm: Techniques for Healing Your Body and Mind” where you will get a personalized action plan so you can find inner peace and heal the impact of stress. You’ll leave this masterclass with research-backed skills to bring calm to the chaos within – and maintain resilience in the face of external stressors.
For the most comprehensive support, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with Dr. Doni one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment here.
We’re here to help you!
Connect with Dr. Doni:
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More Resources from Dr. Doni:
- Start with Dr. Doni’s Stress Quiz:
- Latest Book: Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health
- Stress Warrior Book
- Stress Warrior Stress Resiliency Group (FREE)
- 7-day SelfC.A.R.E Stress Reset
- HPV Recovery Guide (FREE)
Disclaimer: This specific article and all other Content, Products, and Services of this Website are NOT intended as, and must not be understood or construed as, medical care or advice, naturopathic medical care or advice, the practice of medicine, or the practice of counseling care, nor can it be understood or construed as providing any form of medical diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.
De Maeyer C, Schoenmakers B. Exploring intergenerational differences in burnout and how they relate to work engagement, norms, and values: a mixed-methods study. BJGP Open. 2019 Jul 23;3(2):bjgpopen18X101637. doi: 10.3399/bjgpopen18X101637. PMID: 31366668; PMCID: PMC6662876. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6662876/
World Health Organization website. Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. 28 May 2019. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases