Beat Burnout with Movement

By: Eike Daube ACSW


You wake up, splash water in your face, and take a look into the mirror and hardly recognize the person reflected back at you. She looks tired with the darkness sitting under her eyes and the grey nature of her skin. You ask yourself what happened. When did this happen? Then you realize the light that beamed out of you into the world has diminished and you’re missing the womxn you once were.


If you have ever experienced a moment like this, then you know the reality of burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. It is said that detachment is a major indicator of burnout. Detachment from your environment and the people around you. I would argue it is the detachment from your authentic self and your core values that rapidly develops burn out.


When we feel burnout, we feel fatigue. When we feel fatigue, often times we think the resolution is to sleep and rest as much as possible. This can be beneficial for sudden exhaustion from a day or two of hard work. This is far less effective for a period of burn out, in fact it is arguably counterintuitive.


When you are burnt out what you need to do is tap back into your body release the control of the mind by engaging in movement. When you move your body increase your heart rate you increase the production of:


1. Endorphins: make you feel exhilarated and happy and block feelings of pain

2. Estrogen: determines whether carbs or fat fuel the body

3. Dopamine: increase in the pleasure chemical and improves weight regulation

4. Growth Factors: hormone-like compounds that work with satellite cells help stimulate and regulate muscle production

5. Serotonin: responsible for happiness, restful sleep, healthy appetite


By increasing these specific hormones you will find that you will relieve stress, improve memory, helps you sleep, and boosts your overall mood. All of which counteract the effects of burnout on the bosy and mind.


Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.


If you don’t have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, for example, that’s okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have, so eventually you’ll feel ready for a little more. The key is to commit to some moderate physical activity—however little—on most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.

Also tip: find someone or a group of people to help keep you accountable and motivated, communal support is so key in getting out of your burnout funk!

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