As we get the new year started, it’s a timely reminder to work on your health and avoid burn out. Burn out is a common trend I see in my patients by mid year as people begin to get worn down from a busy home and work life. Fatigue, tiredness, recurrent infections, brain fog, poor concentration and headaches are common and it can be difficult making it through each working week. While this level of burn out is common due to our busy lives, it’s not normal and it sign that your body needs some rest and recuperation! Pushing through the fatigue with multiple coffees won’t help your energy levels in the long run. It’s time to listen to your body and rest up, and prepare yourself for the year ahead.
Here are my top tips to reduce burn out and improve your energy levels:
Get to bed earlier and wake up earlier
You might feel like a nanna getting into bed at 9 or 9:30pm but our brain much prefers an early bed time and an early wake time. The type of sleep that we have before midnight is much better for stress levels, energy and cognition so the earlier you can get to bed the better. On the flip side of this, waking earlier in the morning gives you some extra time to ease into your day, rather than snoozing until the very last second and running late for work. Research has found that the best times to sleep is around 9:30 until 5:30/6am, aiming for 8 hours’ sleep.
Start the day with some gentle morning exercise
Now that you have some extra time in the morning, you can fit in some gentle morning exercise. Exercise between 6-7am has been found to be the best time to exercise for mood, energy and stress levels. If you are very tired, a simple walk for 30mins is enough to wake up your body and get the endorphins running for the day ahead. No need to exercise daily, but it is very helpful for your energy and stress levels to aim for 4 mornings each week.
Stick to 1 coffee a day
When tired and stressed, it can be easy to fall into the trap of having a few more coffee’s to get you through the day. However this can make your brain much more scattered and unfocused as you will crash after your coffee high. It is best to stick to 1 coffee per day, as early in the day as you can. This is because our stress hormones such as cortisol are naturally highest in the mornings and your body can tolerate the caffeine hit better at this time.
Use superfoods for an energy boost
Superfoods can be a great way to get an energy boost. Superfoods are natural foods that can be added into your diet for increased nutrition and there are some specific superfoods that are great for energy levels. Try green tea throughout the day for its antioxidants and energy boosting effects- aim for 3 cups a day. Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable that comes as a powder and is amazing for energy levels. It has been shown to increase stamina and endurance and can reduce stress levels. Add raw cacao powder into smoothies, yoghurt, porridge or cereals at breakfast time for a natural energy increase. Take spirulina as an alternative to a multivitamin for a nutritional boost.
Rest on the weekends
This may sound obvious, but it is very easy to fill your weekends up and not leave aside any time for rest and recuperation. Shopping, going out for meals, catching up with friends etc. are all forms of relaxation but please keep in mind that your body needs physical rest as well. Sleep in, watch a movie, have an afternoon nap, read a book or read the paper in the sun- anything that you enjoy that gives your body some time-out for physical rest.
Have protein based snacks between meals
Eating protein based snacks can make a huge difference to energy levels. It will help balance your blood sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Eating high protein snacks will also help you avoid that 3pm crash when you look for a sugar hit. Try snacking on a handful of raw nuts with a piece of fruit. Cheese, cottage cheese, natural yoghurt, hommus, miso soups, boiled eggs, tuna, salmon or edamame beans all make great protein based snacks.
Get some fresh air and sunshine during your work day
Long days in the office without seeing the sunshine can be detrimental to your health, not to mention affect your work capacity. Studies have shown that people who work in an office next to a window have much lower stress levels and better sleep than those in a windowless office. Next time you are feeling tired and flat, take a walk outside into the sunshine. Take a few deep breaths and a walk around the block every day after lunch for a boost in energy levels.
Incorporating these little tricks into your daily routine could do wonders for you when feeling burnt out and exhausted.
Written by Hayley
Hayley is our Naturopath at pH Clinic and also a mum of 2 young boys – she understands the juggle of busy family life! Hayley’s passions are helping support you through all aspects of a healthy family life and treats women, men, babies, kids and adolescents. She has 12 years experience as a clinical naturopath and loves to help her patients understand how lifestyle and diet can affect your body (in both a positive and negative way).
Hayley works a full day on Wednesdays and will start working Saturday morning from the 18th of January. To book in with Hayley please call 0420 644 852 or click here.