Ageing Well – Avoiding Burnout

In the news recently, the Guardian made the case for a condition it referred to as ‘mid-year burnout’. A phenomenon which sees sufferers complain of weariness, tiredness and an overall lethargy as we reach the halfway point of the year.

The term ‘burnout’ was used to describe a general decline in people’s moods and energy levels at a time when, with more sunshine, longer nights and warmer weather, they should have been feeling far more positive and energised.

Symptoms included feeling as if one could fall asleep standing up, of waking with a racing heart or clouded mind, of having a lack energy, appetite or libido. They felt stretched too thin, both in and out of work. Even holidays didn’t bring respite required with many spending all day in bed – or returning and finding any positive effects gone after a couple of days. They were regularly finding themselves irritable or tearful. Many said it was as if the joy had been sucked from life.

This isn’t surprising as according to a UK-wide survey in 2018 by the Mental Health Foundation, almost three quarters of more than 4,500 adults surveyed (74 per cent), had at some point during the past year felt so stressed they were “overwhelmed or unable to cope”.

The causes ranged from debt, body image, long-term health conditions to the need to succeed, which was more common in 18-24 year olds (60%) 25-34 year olds (41%). But even for those who should be thriving, or at least broadly feeling ok, many still feel an apparent groundswell of malaise.

Don’t be fooled by the notion that burnout is the privilege of senior managers, top CEOs or junior doctors, or that it is something that could be treated with a week on the beach. Even if you feel like you are carrying on as normal, still getting other stuff done — this doesn’t mean you aren’t burned out.

We are very active, busy people, with wholesome leisure activities and an active social life. Putting all of our energies into 16 hour days means small, straightforward ‘life admin’ tasks on our to-do list can feel just impossible. For many, particularly millennials, it’s a base setting, the wallpaper of life; it’s just the way things are. It’s how we function.  

The need for downtime has never been more important, the separation between our work and personal lives. The more we are able to create the space between what we’re trying to do in our work life and going home to relax and reinvigorate the better. But often we need help as our rest periods don’t give us the boost we need for the next day.

How nutrition can help…

To help power through the working hours or re-energise to make the most of leisure activities, there are diet, supplement and lifestyle choices we can make to boost our general energy levels.

B Vitamins are involved in the function and development of the brain. In particular, Vitamin B12 is shown to treat memory loss, help with poor concentration and boost your mood. It does this by helping to produce myelin, which protects from nerve damage.

In addition, B Vitamins are thought to play a crucial role in the synthesis of serotonin and has been shown to help with low moods and anxiety.

Carving out ‘me’ time and switching off from technology, which is usually not possible at work, taking regular assigned breaks to do something away from various work and personal notifications, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, makes a huge difference.

But having enough energy is vital to getting the most out of your day, and giving your body the nutrition it needs is essential to achieving this.