How to Fight Burnout with Ayurveda
Fatigue, self-doubt, anxiety and a lack of motivation that doesn’t seem to go away are some telltale signs of burnout. While the World Health Organization characterizes burnout as related to one’s occupation, the root cause of burnout—physical or emotional imbalance that makes it difficult to take on usual tasks—can arise in a number of different contexts. In addition to stress at work, childcare, schoolwork, relationship conflicts and domestic care more broadly can all contribute to burnout.
Burnout is a common, yet often underestimated ailment that we may feel tempted to dismiss. We still have to go to work, take care of our children and finish our schoolwork, right? However, the longer we ignore burnout, the harder it will be to approach our responsibilities in a balanced, positive manner.
According to Ayurveda, we must address the root causes of our ailments rather than the symptoms. A symptomatic approach—like having a drink or a sweet treat when we’re feeling stressed—won’t do much to mitigate and prevent burnout in the long term. Instead, Ayurveda recommends making simple, yet profound lifestyle changes that you follow consistently. Over time, you’ll develop a stronger sense of balance and a more effective response mechanism to stress, anxiety or a lack of motivation.
Symptoms of Burnout
How we experience burnout will depend on our constitution, individual situation and pre-existing lifestyle habits. It can have physical, mental and emotional manifestations. If you suspect you’re going through burnout, you may be feeling a combination of the following symptoms:
- Stress and anxiety
- Constant fatigue
- Self-doubt, a lack of confidence
- Feelings of loneliness and emptiness
- Lack of motivation
- Skin inflammation or acne
- Indigestion and irregular elimination
How to Treat Burnout
If your current situation is leaving you feeling exhausted and despondent due to burnout, there are a number of practical, effective ways to remedy your internal balance and combat burnout in the long run.
Eat foods that are nourishing to your body
A big part of combating burnout is rebuilding our ojas, or the inner life force that drives our health and vitality. When we eat poorly, we accelerate the fatigue, inflammation, indigestion and other symptoms associated with burnout. Conversely, burnout also makes us more susceptible to eating things that are aggravating to our bodies.
To stop this negative feedback cycle from becoming ingrained, it’s important to consciously try to stay away from aggravating and hyper-stimulating substances, like alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. In addition, prioritize eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits that is compatible with your doshic constitution. When you eat properly, you can directly treat some of the issues associated with burnout, such as fatigue and poor digestion, and boost energy, motivation and productivity. For more information on how to eat foods that promote vitality, check out some of our blogs on the topic:
Establish a regular sleep schedule
When we’re burned out, one of the most prominent symptoms we feel is fatigue. Getting enough sleep and sleeping at the right times will thus be crucial in regaining the energy you need to combat burnout. Ayurveda advocates going to sleep before 10pm, during the Kapha time of the day, which is when we feel naturally lethargic. That way, we can sleep during the Pitta phase of the night, which is when we process experiences, store memories and rejuvenate our mental energies. It is recommended to wake up around 6am or earlier during the Vata phase, when we feel active, energized and alert.
If you have trouble falling asleep, you can try out a few self-care practices that will enable you to calm your mind and wind down before bedtime. For example, you can light a tranquility-promoting wellness candle or give yourself a soothing massage with our UMA Pure Rest Wellness Oil. In addition, different doshas tend to have different sleep patterns and sleep-related struggles. For more on Ayurvedic sleep remedies and how to sleep for your dosha, check out our blogs here:
Practice meditation, journaling or yoga
Whatever our situation, when the stresses of our daily obligations go unaccounted for and unprocessed, we increase the chance of experiencing burnout. When we start to feel as though our stresses and anxieties overwhelm us, we lose motivation and grounding. To remedy this, it’s important to confront our feelings head-on, before they can accumulate in an unhealthy way.
This is where practices like meditation, journaling and yoga can make a big difference on our overall mental health. Simply taking 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to breathe and meditate, or journaling at night to process the experiences of the day, can transform how we approach our daily lives. We begin the day with a greater sense of purpose and ambition, and we end it with acceptance and calm. Practicing breathing exercises like pranayama when we feel stressed or tense during the day can also do wonders for our sense of grounding.
Reconnect with yourself through self-care
One of the most difficult aspects of burnout is how it can cause us to feel distant and disconnected from ourselves. We feel heavy, stressed, fatigued and hopeless with no sense of how to remedy these sensations. That’s why it’s so important to instill regular practices of self-care that can help us recognize not only how we feel, but also how we can work to improve our condition. This can be as simple as dry brushing before you shower, which naturally boosts circulation and detoxification, or by giving yourself a quick self-massage before bed, which can target a number of physical and emotional ailments.
Despite how difficult it can be, we need to practice self-care when we’re experiencing burnout in order to remind ourselves of the resilience of our bodies and minds. With a few lifestyle changes and self-care practices, we can work to combat burnout one day at a time, transforming hopelessness into energy, motivation and confidence.