Symptoms of stress can include fatigue, irritability, digestive distress, difficult sleeping or insomnia, feeling on edge and also feeling burnt out! While stress is a natural part of life, chronic (on-going) stress with no stress management plan in place can negatively affect our health.
Burnout is defined as excessive and long-term stress that leads you to a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion. According to the Burnout Prevention & Treatment Help Guide, burnout can happen in different seasons of life. There are warning signs that can help you know if you’re going down the road of burnout to help prevent or implement a self-care, stress management plan.
Signs of Burnout Include:
– Feeling like every day is a bad day
– Reduced productivity and energy
– Feeling constantly exhausted
– Feeling unappreciated all the time
– Frequent headaches or muscle tension
– Changes in sleep and appetite
– Feeling like a failure and struggling with self doubt
– Isolating or procrastinating
– Skipping work or committed obligations
Stress Versus Burnout
The difference between stress and burnout is that when you’re stressed, you feel like once things are under control, everything will get better. With burnout, nothing is enough and you may feel like you are beyond caring about anything. Burnout is usually caused by feeling overworked and undervalued. However, there are many ways to deal with burnout and help yourself feel loved, valued and cared for!
Self-Care Tips For Burnout
-Reaching out to those closest to you
-Reframe the way you look at work
-Find balance in your life
-Take time off
-Take breaks from technology and unplug
-Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Foods For Burnout
Being Registered Dietitians (hello from Megan and Jeni!) we’re going to focus mainly on foods that can nourish your body specifically in times of stress and burnout.
Eat More Omega-3’s
Omega-3’s are a type of fatty acid found in specific foods such as chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts, kidney beans, seaweed and fish such as salmon, mackerel and cod. These omega-3’s give the brain the type of fats that it needs to function properly. They are also responsible for the chemicals in the brain that helps with mood, learning and memory.
Avoid Mood Affecting Foods
Mood affecting foods come in many different forms ranging from caffeine, alcohol and processed foods with artificial additives. These foods trick and confuse your body and can cause chaos to your hormones, which affect your stress levels and productivity. If you’re feeling on edge for example, you may want to cut back on caffeine (coffee, soda, certain teas) which can stimulate your nervous system leading to feeling even more on edge! Instead consume foods that nourish your body and provide lasting, long-term energy such as hydrating with water, nuts, seeds, energizing fruits, veggies and whole-grains.
Boost Your Fiber
Did you know that your gut health directly affects your brain health? This process is known as the gut brain connection or gut brain axis. An unhealthy stress level may lead to digestive trouble. Fiber plays a major role in regulating your digestion. The average American only consumes about half of the daily recommendation for fiber. Women should aim to consume 25 grams of fiber/day and men should consume 38 grams/day. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your digestive tract to increase bulk in your stool, whereas insoluble fiber promotes movement of materials out of the system. Creating healthy digestive habits can help boost overall brain health as your body heals from stress and burnout.
Up Your Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are a nutrient powerhouse! Green vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The different B vitamins found in greens may boost your mood, fight fatigue and improve your sleep. Salads, green juices and green smoothies are a great way to consume quality of green. You can also add green veggies stir fries, soups and tacos!
Whole grains supply the brain with it’s favorite energy source, glucose! Fueling your body with complex carbohydrates found in whole-grains is important because the fiber found in these foods slow down the rate that glucose goes into your cells. This helps to slow and balance blood sugar spikes and blood sugar crashes. Choose foods such as brown rice, wild rice, beans, oats and whole grain pastas. Avoid white bread and pasta, which can lead to those mood affecting energy crashes.
Enjoy Lean Proteins
Protein is essential for many different functions in our body from building and repairing muscle tissue to influencing hormones! Tryptophan specifically is an amino acid found in protein that leads to the production of serotonin. Serotonin is one of our main mood producing hormones. Consuming healthy, lean proteins can help maintain the balance of serotonin in our body, which is important for our mood and brain health! Some amazing plant-based proteins to consume include beans, almonds and quinoa! If you consume animal-based proteins go for eggs, chicken and fish.
How HGG Help With Burnout
What we eat can help or hinder our health. When we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed it’s easy to reach for quick, convenience foods. It can be nearly impossible to organize and meal plan, which may feel like “just one more thing to do” when you already feel like you can’t keep up with the day. At Healthy Grocery Girl, we’ve created dozens of resources to help simplify meal time, meal planning and grocery shopping. Our best resource is the HGG Membership which has simple, real food meal plans (that are gluten-free and dairy-free). Each meal plan also comes with a completed grocery shopping list – you can simply print, shop, cook and eat without having to plan or wonder what to make! To learn more about becoming an HGG Member and join us click here!