6 vitamins and coping strategies to help with burnout
In 1974, Herbert Freudenberger brought the term ‘burnout’ to the public’s attention with his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. In it, he characterised what is now a very modern problem (thanks, 2020): chronic, long-term stress, often linked to the demands of your job.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
The WHO defines three symptoms of burnout:
Detachment from your job
Poorer performance at work
And with a global pandemic, working from home, homeschooling, and other life worries to contend with, it’s little wonder that stress levels are on the rise. If you’re looking for ways to treat burnout, these vitamins and coping strategies could help you with overcoming burnout.
Vitamins for burnout
1. B Vitamins for your mood, stress and energy
Burnout stress may be helped with the use of B vitamins. In a 2011 study, researchers found that those who had taken Vitamin B complex treatment over the 90-day trial suffered from lowered personal strain and a decrease in the amount of workplace stress than those who had not.
This may be because B vitamins are essential for brain health, particularly when it comes to energy and cell-to-cell signalling. Lowered levels of vitamin B12, for example, can double your chances of developing a mood disorder, such as depression, as it helps your brain to produce mood-boosting hormones, including serotonin. This suggests that vitamin B could help with your mood. Vitamin B12 also helps the body to metabolise the energy from food—in our brains, that’s energy for neurons to communicate.
2. Vitamin C for your immune system and stress
While vitamin C is commonly touted as being good for the immune system, it is also a good vitamin to help with signs of burnout at work. High levels of vitamin C in the blood have been linked to better management of the physical and mental signs of stress when put under pressure.
In an animal study, vitamin C stopped the secretion of cortisol—the fight or flight hormone—which spikes when the body is stressed. Too much cortisol can lead to anxiety, sleep problems, headaches, trouble concentrating, and more.
And in another human trial, participants were asked to perform stressful tasks, including public speaking—with those who had taken a large dose of vitamin C beforehand, exhibiting fewer signs of stress.
3. Omega 3 DHA + EPA for mood regulation and anxiety
Included as part of the Heights Brain Nutrition Assessment—consumption of omega 3 DHA + EPA has many benefits, including links to mood regulation. In a 2018 study, researchers linked lower levels of omega 3 in the brain to increased heart rate and higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
Additionally, higher stress levels deplete the brain’s reserves of omega 3, as the body releases omega 3 into the bloodstream to provide extra energy as the fight or flight response is triggered. Links have also been found between omega-3 supplementation and lowered stress levels—in a 2011 study, students who supplemented with fish oil (vegan sources are available,) had marked reductions in anxiety levels and inflammation in the brain.
Looking to up your intake of omega 3 DHA + EPA, vitamin C, and B vitamins? The Heights Smart Supplement contains all of the above, all from sustainable and plant-based sources.
Coping strategies for burnout
The pressures of work coupled with everyday demands can easily create a pressure cooker combination for burnout. Which is why taking some time out is an important part of relieving stress. Buddhists have known that meditation has myriad benefits for centuries, including links to lowered anxiety levels, the regulation of stress response, and even changing the brain’s neuroplasticity. For some easy steps on how to start meditation, try these five steps from a meditation coach.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
It may be easier said than done, but getting a good night’s sleep is essential for managing the symptoms of burnout. During sleep, our bodies repair—and sleep deprivation is linked to impeded cognitive ability and a lessened ability to manage emotions.
If you’re struggling to switch off after a stressful day, there’s a number of steps you can try:
Are you getting the right mix of nutrients and vitamins? Various vitamins—including vitamin E, B12, and D—are all linked to more restful sleep.
Turn off electronic devices an hour before bed as the blue light emitted can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm.
Try this R.E.S.T method from sleep scientist Sophie Bostock.
6. Go for a walk
When feeling stressed about work—or other life factors—it can be tempting to immerse yourself in the problem until you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. But stepping away as a coping strategy can help you see things from a different perspective. Walking is also linked to better resilience and stress management—rodent models indicate that the primary benefit of exercise is the promotion of resilience to stress. For tips on how to walk more, read this piece by Professor of Experimental Brain Research Shane O’Mara.
To find out if your lifestyle is affecting your brain’s performance, try taking the Heights’ free Brain Nutrition Assessment