Foods To Counter Burnout

WHO (World Health Organization) has recently re-labelled “burnout “as an occupational phenomenon. This just shifts the focus to burnout being a work-related chronic stress condition. Symptoms include declining work performance, feeling of extreme fatigue & exhaustion and developing a negative vibe towards one’s own work and profession. The technological advancement that puts on “online” 24X7 with updates is impacting mental health too besides physical. We are more unhappy, cranky, emotionally over-reactive, & dissatisfied than ever before.

On a biochemical level, this leads to the release of more stress hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases heart rate and elevates blood pressure. Cortisol increases the blood sugar, alters the immune response and suppresses the digestive system, reproductive system and growth processes.We, humans, are quick and intelligent enough to diagnose our problems and Mother nature is kind enough to offer solutions in terms of foods, superfoods to help us combat these problems.  

The following foods may help one cope better with burnout and chronic exhaustion :

- Omega-3 fatty acids: Yes, besides being known for making our brain function better, heart stronger, adding sparkle to our eyes and making our skin glow, Omega 3 fats also help us deal better with persistent stress. If you feel edgy  and drained, make sure you include flaxseeds, walnuts, Fatty fish like Salmon(or fish oil supplements), and green leafy veggies(even Basil!)

- Ensure enough fibre in your meals: Fibre not only keeps one full, but it also acts as an excellent prebiotic and helps the gut flora flourish. A healthier gut means a Happier you. The biochemical signalling between the G.I tract and the central nervous system(also known as the Gut-Brain axis) plays an important role in our emotional and mental well-being. A simple way to ensure enough fibre is to try and include vegetables for all 3 meals. Add veggies to your breakfast(a sandwich/ poha/ upma/ porridge/ idlis/ oats). Include salad and cooked vegetables with both lunch and dinner. Include healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and dry fruit. Stick to local and seasonal produce to help reduce exposure to pesticides which are well-known hormone disruptors.

- Try and eat as much REAL food as possible: That would ensure denser nutrients, more bioavailability, balanced hormones and better moods and energy levels. Processed foods on a daily basis gradually deplete energy levels by just adding empty calories that do not support body systems. 

- Protein:  Lean animal protein, plant protein help beat fatigue and provide energy to the worn-out cells. Lean poultry and mutton, fish, lentils, legumes and low-fat dairy are good sources of protein. 

- Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, ginseng, liquorice help relieve adrenal fatigue and reduce the production of cortisol. Supplements like Co-enzyme Q 10 and Melatonin may also help regulate the secretion of hormones and lead to improved moods and less fatigue. 

- There are certain foods that are best avoided to help prevent burnout. These include refined sugar, caffeine. Refined sugar may lead to a sugar rush and increased energy levels for a short while, but the quick drop in blood sugar levels makes one feel worse than before having sugar. While we all know caffeine as a stimulant, if one is already exhausted, caffeine may be counter-productive and may not be the best food to start one’s day with. Try and avoid stimulants like Alcohol and nicotine too.   

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