Break-Free From Burn Out
There’s a dangerous phenomenon in our modern day that is seriously threatening our health — body, mind, and soul. What is it? BURNOUT.
Are you tired? Depleted? Worn out? Are you making more mistakes? Maybe you’re feeling disconnected from your thoughts, actions or even your interests and people 1. Yes, that’s right. Burnout can stop you from investing in what is important in your life. It can even lead to a bad decision-making process and—eventually—bad decisions. To sum up, burnout is a modern phenomenon that is making us ill.
Often many clients we see at HUM2N tell us that they are ‘burning out’, ‘stressed’, have ‘sleep issues’ and are often unaware that their lifestyle and dietary habits are only exacerbating the issue. The main causes of burnout that we see in our clients are diet, poor sleep and the ‘always switched on’ phenomenon.
LET’S DIVE INTO THE CAUSES OF BURNOUT
Food is a very powerful tool which can fuel and energise us, or leave us feeling tired, wired, or worse. Poor nutrition is associated with lower well-being scores and increased risk of burnout, with some studies reporting symptoms such as ”irritability, frustration, and a sense of being emotionally drained when faced with poor access to nutrition” 2.
On another hand, studies show that higher nutritional quality is linked to decreased depersonalization and higher life satisfaction 2. However, poor nutrition is often not simply a choice but a result of many different factors. According to a recent publication “chronic stress, such as the stress experienced by individuals suffering from burnout, has been shown to influence the amounts and types of foods individuals eat, contributing both to excessive eating and undereating and the development of chronic diseases” 3.
At HUM2N, we experience this first-hand when coaching our SUPERHUM2NS: “we have seen that clients that experience burnout have a pattern of consuming too much sugar, carbs and processed foods” says Viktoria Vamosi, Senior Nutritionist at HUM2N. Whilst reaching for such foods may bring you some comfort in times of stress, over-reliance can come at a cost of good health. There are many ways in which your diet may influence your risk of burnout, from direct pathways (e.g. nutrients play a role in numerous pathways needed for healthy functioning, such as the inflammation) to indirect pathways (e.g. by mediating your gut composition and its effect on your physical and mental health) 2, 4.
Luckily, diet is a factor that you can mediate and modify when it comes to proactively managing the root causes of burnout. At HUM2N, we are all about bringing long-lasting change that is personalised to fit your unique lifestyle. Speak to your HUM2N nutrition coach for more information.
In this 24/7 “rise & grind” society, we often compromise on sleep in exchange for productivity. We rise early, we work late, we rely on coffee to stay awake and then we feel too wired to sleep. It is reported that as many as 16 million UK adults are suffering from sleepless nights as a third (31%) say they have insomnia 5. However, sleep is vital for our health. Research suggests that lack of sleep puts our bodies under a state of stress, and out of balance. In fact, prolonged sleep deprivation (prevalent in our modern society) can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation, which is a risk factor for many illnesses 6. It’s been shown to result in immunodeficiency, making us more susceptible to infection, such as the common cold and flu 7.
Sleep issues go beyond physical health. “Sleep is extremely important for our mental health. Some people get stuck in a vicious cycle where lack of sleep leads to tiredness which then makes it very difficult to cope with daily life. This perpetuates stress and overthinking when you get to bed, starting the vicious cycle once again, ” says Rusne Zalnoraite, Mental Health Nutritionist at HUM2N.
This is because “sleep is a fundamental physiological process necessary for efficient cognitive functioning especially in relation to memory consolidation and executive functions, such as attentional and switching abilities 8. Some research suggests that “the relationship between sleep and persistent stress in the brain has broad implications in understanding neurological disorders from development to degeneration” 9.
Thus, not only does a lack of sleep leave you feeling groggy and run-down in the short-term, but it also has serious, long-term consequences.
There are multiple causes of insomnia, which can include too much caffeine and alcohol, high evening cortisol levels, poor sleep routine, “screen time” (the effect that the blue light from screens has on your melatonin levels), magnesium deficiency, inflammation, or any combination thereof 10, 11.
Luckily, each of these causes are easy to treat through supplementation, change in diet, and reducing the amount of time spent looking at a phone, TV, or other screen in the evening, and thus can be reversed.
THE ALWAYS SWITCHED ON EPIDEMIC
With every new technology or consumer product created, we are promised an easier lifestyle. Instead, we have given up on down time and switched off.
Today, it is estimated that the average person spends nearly 7 hours each day looking at a screen 12. As your eyes begin to blur and the “too many tabs open” feeling sets in, chances are you reach for caffeine, sugar, or even study drugs to help you focus. Each of these stimulants, while giving you a short boost, ultimately take a large toll on your health and lead to a big crash, causing you to repeat the cycle.
HOW TO FIX BURN OUT
Burnout is a serious matter. It is associated with personal and professional dissatisfaction; social isolation; relationship problems; depression; substance abuse; and, in extreme cases, suicide 13. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to prevent burnout and to seek professional attention if it occurs.
While there isn’t a quick and easy fix for burnout, it is possible to reverse it. Shifting to a rich and balanced diet will balance your blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, improve your gut composition and lower your risk for other conditions. By properly nourishing yourself, you will find your energy levels pick up, eliminating the need to reach for stimulants and allowing you a better chance to have a good night of sleep.
We recommend adopting a solid bedtime routine. Going screen-free at least 30 minutes before bed and mindfulness meditation help you centre, de-stress, and combat problems with melatonin levels. When you go to sleep is also important. You should aim to be in bed before 11pm when cortisol levels spike. These same behaviours that help with sleep will also restore your parasympathetic nervous system, and alleviate the drain of being “always on.” An OURA ring can help track your sleep health.
Once you get into a rhythm of poor eating, bad sleep, and not turning off, it can be hard to break as many of the behaviours are self-reinforcing. By working with your health coach and doctor, you can break the cycle of burnout and live your healthiest life. If you are feeling that you need support, speak to our health expert today.
 Dufort A., Gregory E., Woo T. (2020) Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors: The Optimal Nutrition to Combat Burnout. In: Hategan A., Saperson K., Harms S., Waters H. (eds) Humanism and Resilience in Residency Training. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-45627-6_12
 Esquivel, M. K. (2021). Nutrition Strategies for Reducing Risk of Burnout Among Physicians and Health Care Professionals. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 15(2), 126–129. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827620976538
 Madison, A., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2019). Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 28, 105–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011
 Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Haack, M. (2019). The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological reviews, 99(3), 1325–1380. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
 Wilder-Smith, A., Mustafa, F. B., Earnest, A., Gen, L., & Macary, P. A. (2013). Impact of partial sleep deprivation on immune markers. Sleep medicine, 14(10), 1031–1034. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2013.07.00
 Pesoli, M., Rucco, R., Liparoti, M., Lardone, A., D'Aurizio, G., Minino, R., Troisi Lopez, E., Paccone, A., Granata, C., Curcio, G., Sorrentino, G., Mandolesi, L., & Sorrentino, P. (2022). A night of sleep deprivation alters brain connectivity and affects specific executive functions. Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology, 43(2), 1025–1034. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-021-05437-2
 Rochelle L. Coulson, Philippe Mourrain, Gordon X. Wang. (2022). Sleep deficiency as a driver of cellular stress and damage in neurological disorders. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 101616,ISSN 1087-0792. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2022.101616.
 Djokic, G., Vojvodić, P., Korcok, D., Agic, A., Rankovic, A., Djordjevic, V., Vojvodic, A., Vlaskovic-Jovicevic, T., Peric-Hajzler, Z., Matovic, D., Vojvodic, J., Sijan, G., Wollina, U., Tirant, M., Thuong, N. V., Fioranelli, M., & Lotti, T. (2019). The Effects of Magnesium - Melatonin - Vit B Complex Supplementation in Treatment of Insomnia. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 7(18), 3101–3105. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2019.771
 McFarland, D. C., Hlubocky, F., Susaimanickam, B., O'Hanlon, R., & Riba, M. (2019). Addressing Depression, Burnout, and Suicide in Oncology Physicians. American Society of Clinical Oncology educational book. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Annual Meeting, 39, 590–598. https://doi.org/10.1200/EDBK_239087