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Burnout syndrome? Chronic fatigue? Turn to the nature

Popular assumption is that burnout is the result of excessive stress. Stress management system of the body is a very complex multi-action trigger and response system that involves both branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic, the brain and the HPA axis (the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis), as well as other pathways.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are quite difficult to diagnose because when somebody experiences frequent headache, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in anything, hormone imbalance and irritable bowel symptoms: these symptoms do not immediately make us think about low cortisol and a suppressed HPA axis which have eventually resulted from stressing oneself to the maximum over long periods of time. Physical and mental exhaustion manifest as similar set of symptoms, therefore, overdoing with inappropriate physical activities, overloading one with duties or studying and learning until complete exhaustion occurs is not a good idea.

Burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome may seem to be very different, but they are quite similar, in fact. The same hormonal abnormalities are present in both conditions, as well as similar complaints about physical symptoms. It could be that the brain has decided to shut down the HPA axis activity in order to prevent us from damaging our body completely. If we did not experience tiredness, sleepiness and exhaustion, we would probably work until our body is permanently damaged and unable to recover. Research suggests that the brain, and the HPA axis may be responsible for the fatigue experienced during burnout and with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Our body loves balance, so that all mechanisms and systems can work in a well-adjusted, well-balanced way. We certainly want to be safe and rich, and have no financial struggles. Many people go for 2 jobs or work even at 3 places. Nobody has cancelled family or kids; that takes our condition to the point when every single day is too short. When we start feeling worse and weaker, we can get done much less, so one wonders how that was possible I studied and worked and still had time to go out and enjoy? This pretty much affects any tasks we have to deal with: whether work or relationship related, and it does not stop there. Burnout causes to lose any motivation and interest in the job or activity which could have been even exciting and good opportunity when we started out.

It is not always work which causes somebody to burn out. It is usually a combination of things. That can be job that has become very difficult to cope with, too demanding boss or too many tasks; sick parent who needs daily care; kids’ education that needs attention, difficult and worsening relationships with spouse or friends who were there to support before, so on and so on. Loss of somebody very meaningful, especially if this person was more or less associated with anything we do. Stressful situations and events just pile up and we seem to have less and less control over them and less and less power to manage everything.

The worst part is that these emotions and feeling completely ill are like a vicious circle: they will not go away until the cause of never-ending stress is eliminated. It is easy to say: quit the job or leave the family, move to another city or town, or place your parent in old folks home. Most often the financial situation and debt are the most stubborn issues. Still, if you reach the point when it is almost impossible to keep doing that job or fighting with duties or people, you will have to quit it. Your health will demand it. In burnout syndrome, mental issues prevail; chronic fatigue manifests more as a physical illness.

Feeling good and healthy makes everything else happen.

My personal recipe before one turns to brain-affecting medications or drugs and alcohol is being in the nature. Being with it, in it and having oneself immersed in the nature. That is why these who have a garden or backyard are better off.

The soil and grasses have huge power: as you touch soil with your hands or stand bare-foot on a fresh, green grass, the bad energy flows out and energetic imbalances return to normal. We have so much electricity in us that sometimes it just needs to be unloaded. Give it to the soil, return into natural circulation. Doing garden work is good in any regard and no gym can ever compare to that. Don’t do this to become the world’s best gardener: do gardening for yourself and as much or as little as you can.

The other thing that makes time and everything else disappear is art. Meditation with pencil or brush. How wonderful is that? Drawing flowers or scenes where everything is included and balanced. Peaceful soul reaches out to the beauty of nature. Be careful, though, if you do art for achieving the status of the best artist ever, but not to relieve your stresses, there won’t be results. I am talking about activities which are completely different from your daily duties. Who cares what your drawing or painting is like? Nobody, as long as you have let stresses go for a while.

If you are an artist or writer who feels completely exhausted and swallowed down by the competitive world, you will have to choose nature for walks, forests for discoveries and gardening for making brain and body more saturated with simplicity.

Simply switching activities can help, too.

The worst way to gain more time is depriving oneself of sleep. Sleep has to be made a big priority. Cannot sleep? Drink chamomile with honey, lemon balm (if you do not have low blood pressure because it lowers blood pressure a lot), literary: smell roses and lavender.

Late night is not the time to resolve anything. Morning always knows better.

Why am I suggesting such simple things for extremely complex conditions? Because I’ve been through this. The last stretch of 4 years was horrible. I have made through it without falling apart completely only because of nature, garden, work in fresh air and art. It is not that easy to paint or draw after a bad fatigue episode when everything hurts. It is not easy to get back to life after being exhausted or depressed. If we don’t do anything, nothing good can happen either. Change is hard work, but we need to find strength within ourselves. Nature is smart, way smarter than we admit. It is very rewarding to find a part of our strength in the nature.

This is what heals me

The fantastic fragrant air raising from apple blooms: it works like a medicine

Lilac beauty and fragrance therapy

The spring blossoming this year was so intense that I could not resist taking a few more pictures.

Enjoy the blooming!

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great insights, Inese!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 26, 2017
    • Thanks, Cynthia! Well, trying to get back to blog and website. Too much garden work and other stuff. I have written some 20 more posts at least, but never got to publish them.

      Liked by 2 people

      May 26, 2017
  2. I take a walk in my garden every morning, it gives me pleasure just to see what is in bloom.

    Like

    May 29, 2017
    • That’s very useful. And rewarding. I love watching vegetables growing and certainly all blooms are so wonderful.

      Like

      May 29, 2017
  3. Such a positive post Inese! Hey, I just read an article that claimed that gardening, (touching the soil) acted like an antidepressant on our bodies. Makes sense, it really does. I beleieve if more of us were connected to nature (the way we were meant to be) there would be far less illness in the world. Great post, even better photos! Think I’ll go check on my veggie garden 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    May 31, 2017
    • Great idea! I believe soil absorbs the excess electricity and therefore the emotions that bother us go away. I’ve been gardening since age 10. That’s when I created my first small garden which was obviously inside my parents’big garden. I must be an individualist since I always wanted to be in charge about everything till the smallest detail.
      We could make this world healthy again if we were going straight the opposite direction of globalization. Not only is such produce 100 times richer in nutrients and cleaner, therefore, way better tasting, as you noted it helps with our aches, pain and mental issues. I enjoy gardens, I have made so many from scratch since I’ve been moving some 30 times so far with the biggest move across the ocean when I was 46.
      Nice to hear from you and our pleasure grows together with plants, flowers and vegetables!

      Like

      May 31, 2017
  4. There is nothing like living and working in green, vibrant spaces, Inese. A wonderful post on the healing power of nature.

    Like

    June 4, 2017
    • Thanks, Lavinia! Definitely so. I was just thinking that we definitely could erase some diseases, some genetic predispositions, lots of conditions and return to healthy ourselves just by stopping the globalization of produce and changing the way food gets on our table. People on farms, like you, are not afraid to work, however, that is a very blessed work. Just to compare to real dirt in politics, legal area and entertainment business. How refreshing it is to be the creator of a healthy food that makes people feel great! We would need most people to turn to the gardening, and so the cancer rates and obesity with all the related issues like diabetes and cardio-vascular conditions would become no problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 4, 2017
  5. Beautiful and touching post. I too have turned to art and nature to heal from too much stress. I had to leave my job as a school psychologist due to migraines and a lot of what sounds like Burnout Syndrome. I have been working on art to heal for a few years and this year I have started working on art as a career. I can already feel the need to be careful to balance healing with working on it. Best wishes in your health and art.

    Like

    June 13, 2017
    • Thanks Jeanette!
      Everything stops to be healing tool when we need to turn it into business or obligation.
      I was just thinking how drawing and painting is like a meditation when there is no rush or deadline.
      I’m trying to always keep it that way: balance is very important.
      Well, I’m doing very different things: medical writing and clinical trial and patient test reviews, some of my own writing in Latvian and in English, giving classes (I have decided to decrease the number of classes dramatically for the reason you just mentioned), sewing and designing my own outfits since I don’t have time to do that for others like I used back in Europe, gardening and also painting. I do love drawing a lot, I believe the extremely good visual memory comes exactly from that: drawing since very young age, practically every day. I think it’s different when somebody demands you to do these things, but nobody ever controlled what I was doing, so since that arises from my personal desire, I don’t feel it as an obligation.
      Thank you so much for stopping by! Art as a career certainly requires much from the artist. I wish you to keep everything in balance!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 13, 2017
      • Thank you for your encouragement.

        Like

        June 13, 2017
      • And thank you for nice exchange of thoughts! Have a great day!
        I am preparing sketching class, so lots of work.

        Like

        June 13, 2017
  6. You say:

    “Our body loves balance, so that all mechanisms and systems can work in a well-adjusted, well-balanced way”…

    I have been always amazed to note that our body might work as a homeostatic organism, trying to achieve balance…. Homeostasis is defined as “the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes”.

    In that sense, I´d say that Burnout might be a defensive act to avoid worse consequences when our body and mind are in risk….

    I agree with you as to “personal recipes”: Being in Nature and art are great mechanisms to solve out problems and deal with stressful situations. I already can feel that worries cease when I am outside in a green spotlight, beside the river, listening to birds singing.

    An excellent post, dear Inese. Thank you for sharing. Love & best wishes to you! ⭐

    Like

    June 16, 2017
    • Burnout is not that rare nowadays, especially when somebody is under pressure to work too long hours with not that visible results, and especially when that involves working with people who are customers which are supposed to be always right or at school where kids keep the stress levels high, or being an emergency responder, a nurse, or overworked doctor, a driver who gets little sleep, so on and so forth. Chronic fatigue is even more frequently observe these days when people try to compensate lack of wasted time with their sleep hours. Screens tend to drain out more than anybody would believe.
      Well, the human body is the most advanced, the most complex and the most consisting parts involving system that exists within the range of our explored and assessed limits. There isn’t anything like a healthy human body where all parts that allow the body system to function properly are undergoing simultaneously so many absurdly complicated updates. Disbalance in any area whether that is a crucial or support part affects every other part. Every nutrition disasters cause long-term echos in the body. The strengths of survival instinct is so extreme that we would be practically eternal if we didn’t allow minor problems to lead our body systems to major crashes.
      Overcoming such conditions and recovering from them might be challenging because they are difficult to diagnose and could be easily assumed as simple tiredness and exhaustion after some period of work or after illness.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 16, 2017
  7. Well written. Congratulations. We also tried to summarize it here https://knowledgefreaks.com/2017/05/05/burnout-syndrome/ but yours is way better. Looking forward to read your posts

    Like

    June 18, 2017
    • Thanks! I’ve been a medical writer for almost 40 years now, so I have a lot of data, etc. I certainly will have a look. Thanks for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 18, 2017
  8. I can almost smell those beautiful lilacs.

    Like

    July 13, 2017

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