Avoiding Burnout

Awhile back, I mentioned I had a panic attack in class. I cried and it was so embarrassing. My chest heaved as I struggled to hold in from crying out loud in yoga class. I felt so vulnerable, exhausted, and overwhelmed with tasks, and the anticipation to perform them well. I had no will to do any of it, and instead I skipped work, made lots of bacon (food therapy), talked to a friend, and went on a nature walk. I needed the time off.

wardah and I

Burnout. How do you tell if you’re burnt-out?

  • Fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Moodiness
  • Lowered sense of self-efficiency (believing that you can do it)
  • Being on-edge and constantly thinking or ruminating
  • Looking at the time, feeling like this moment will never end (or is ending too soon)

These are also common symptoms of Adrenal fatigue, something that I’ve been battling for a while and have started healing from with a keto-paleo approach. Of course, there are many more symptoms I haven’t listed; I only included the ones I was going through. Honestly? I felt so numb and impatient and stuck. And frustrated.

My movement teacher, once, told me to not work on a presentation over the long weekend. I was flabbergasted. Why? I thought. The long weekend is the perfect time to be getting ahead or at least catching up with work.

panic anxiety selfie

It’s called incubation.

Any time you’re faced with a feeling of being stuck, you need to leave the work. Take a break. It’s why we have summer vacation as students–so that in the fall we return with a thirst to learn, and willpower to stay organized. It’s why extroverts need to to ground themselves and be alone, and introverts seek adventure and social connection sometimes. It’s why the seasons change.

I thought I was giving myself enough of a break in between working sessions on school work, but I wasn’t. I thought 2 days gone without rehearsing the routine would make my efforts suffer. After all, you lose it if you don’t use it, right?

Leave the work feeling refreshed.

There is a point of diminishing returns. At that point, you’re beating a dead horse. At this stage, you dread doing the work. You find yourself watching the clock in agony, wishing that this moment would be done. You’re doing it again and again and it becomes boring. Your willpower goes down.

You should feel invigorated by the work, not exhausted by it. Not deadened by it. I have this attitude towards everything in life where, if I’m not tired or brain-dead by the end of the task, then I still have more fuel in the tank to keep going, and should keep going. If I don’t, then I’m not productive, and if I’m not productive, then I’m not good enough.



Just because I still have some fuel left in the tank doesn’t mean I should drive my car until it’s empty. If I drove my car until it ran out of fuel then I’d be stuck on the road. I should always have a bit of diesel left in the tank when I recharge at the gas station, and that is the approach we should have towards everything in life.

Working 8 hour shifts are draining–trust me, I’ve Chipotle and I know.

Exercising for 4 hours every single day is exhausting, and will leave you dreading the workout the next day and not having enough willpower to do anything else (besides sleep and watch tv) the entire day. Unless you’re training for an ultra marathon, you needn’t exercise that long, especially at a high intensity, each day (and even then, there is a strategy to train for those intense races!).

Staying indoors too long is also mentally draining. You need fresh air, sunlight, and nature.


Besides leaving the work feeling refreshed, what are some other ways to avoid burnout?

  • Daily exercise
  • A clean diet
  • Getting in movement midday
  • 8 hours of rested sleep (not 8 hours in bed)
  • Social interactions/bonding at least once a day!

For those wondering, one of my mantras for 2017 is to leave the work feeling refreshed so that I have more willpower going into other aspects of my life. I’m so glad I did break down in class, because had I not, I wouldn’t have appreciated the idea of incubating. I returned to school in 2017 with more creativity, more energy, and less clock-watching and more living the moment. 🙂

Do you have adrenal fatigue? Or, do you suffer from burnout? What changes do you think you need to make so that you thrive instead of feeling running on empty?