This is a first approach to adrenal fatigue symptoms treatment. I want to look at a term which focuses your experiences, a buzz word for an illness that has become rampant in our days: burnout or adrenal fatigue. Even if it’s being overused like hysteria in the 19th century, I’ll take it first as an indicator for a specific psychosocial condition, second I’ll prove that it is objectively measurable and finally I’ll hint at best ways how to regain vitality.
Living from the heart can prevent burnout.
Burnout or adrenal fatigue syndrome – the signs of the times
Compared to past times, is our daily life under increasing pressure? Yes indeed. The fact this question merely appears rhetorical indicates a great tragic behind all the tinsel and glitter of trained bodies and a lavish lifestyle, at least presented in virtual reality. It seems to me we live under the merciless imperative of perfection pushing the limits evermore towards the absurd through an economy of growth.
We leave it at that and consider that burnout is a syndrome, a conglomerate of specific causes and effects, also widely discussed under the notion adrenal fatigue. I’m aware that here we’re dealing with an umbrella term whose scientific accuracy can and must be discussed. But this would exceed the range of this post.
Anyhow, burnout or adrenal fatigue is not a clear-cut disease pattern but rather the epitome of a creepy and fatal development of an individual lifespan. Thus on its tragic development it is objectively real, but on its diagnosis and healing it requires a subjective approach.
Development and stages
Research has shown that a human being can only cope with seven stressful incidents per week that makes one per day on average. But today it amounts to seven times seven (7 x 7 = 49!!) or more per week. As a result there are too many neurotransmitters like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol which cannot be released properly into the body. Thus the endocrine system looses its balance and the person concerned becomes ill.
Remember the autonomous stress reaction everybody goes through coping with a negative stimulus. Stress in itself isn’t bad. On the contrary, without a healthy amount of pressure and challenge, your life force would fade away. So under constant pressure everybody goes through the following three phases. And to see what happens if the adaption fails and the distress becomes chronic, click on the diagram below:
For a growing number of persons chances are high they have to deal with enduring distress, be it physical, emotional or mental. According to the diagram above, they run chronically in the stages II and III, respectively orange and red. If there’s no relief in sight, the vicious circle towards burnout sets in. In order to reflect on an individual situation, Herbert Freudenberger, a psychoanalyst, developed the following 12 stages:
As you can imagine, burnout is a complex phenomenon, not only confined to a job situation. There are family situations which can use up your very substance. I’m thinking of the great number of divorces or of relatives in need of care. Information about burnout are very important, because of the steady and creeping process which entails the tragic fact that without qualitative feedback almost never will you recognize the point of no return.
Diagnosis and symptoms
For the just mentioned reasons it’s crucial to recognize as early as possible the warning signs, in order to develop effective interventions. Please bear in mind that the boundaries between burnout, depression and other illnesses aren’t clear-cut. So if you feel stronger discomfort I’ll recommend you to consult a physician.
There are two complementary ways to reach a diagnosis called burnout:
- A standardized interview with the concerned person can highlight the different factors. I can refer to the widely used Maslach Burnout Inventory (for a pdf click Burnout-self-test). More details can be found at Christina Maslach, The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It.
- The other, less known but very accurate and quick method is the measurement of the heart coherence via biofeedback. Because the heart is the most sensible indicator for failed adaption. For comparison you can see below a sample measurement of a burnt-out and a vital client (for details click on diagram).
Here are some typical symptoms:
- Emotional: psychic exhaustion, melancholy, lack of control (aggressive, nervous, anxious).
- Physical: overall fatigue, sleeping disorders, tension, indigestion, headaches, vertigo, many persistent colds, high blood pressure, pulse races.
- Perceptional: lack of concentration and decision-making ability.
- Motivational: lack of impetus, enthusiasm and idealism, disappointment, resignation, boredom
Looking back it has become clear that we have to deal with a large set of factors. For now, I’ll reserve the broad spectrum of environmental factors for another post and confine myself to the personal factors following a central concept of the transactional analysis: the drivers. They decide how we as individuals react in situations characterized by pressure. Basically there are five drivers.
- Be perfect! “You’re only ok if you get everything right.” ♥ Allower: “It’s ok to make mistakes.”
- Try hard! “You’re only ok if you keep trying hard to do things.” ♥ Allower: “It’s ok to do it with ease.”
- Hurry up! “You’re only ok if you do everything right now.” ♥ Allower: “It’s ok to take your time.”
- Be strong! “You’re only ok if you hide your feelings and wants from others.” ♥ Allower: “It’s ok to be open and take care of yourself.”
- Please others! “You’re only ok if you don’t care about yourself.” ♥ Allower: “It’s ok to consider and please yourself.”
Use these drivers as a mirror and reflect upon your own inner dynamic. In order to change it, keep your focus on the allowers. Write it down and put it on your pin board or mirror in the bathroom, just any place you won’t miss it, and keep meditating on the power of these words.
Regaining vitality – prevention
In the end burnout is an emotional issue. Remember the children’s way! They want to be connected through love to the people and things around them. In the literal as well as metaphorical sense they want to be close; be it to mom or dad, be it to a cat or to the living water. Where is your place, where can you be yourself fully in touch with the life in and around you?
In other words your heart matters more than anything! Listen to it, make and keep it strong with all means possible, one of which is the great coherence measuring and training tool emWave. I wish you can connect back to the source of life and therefore want to offer you in closing the prayer of serenity authored by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
- God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
- The courage to change the things I can,
- And the wisdom to know the difference.
Take it as a guiding light on your quest how to regain vitality and find true abundance in your life. Please feel free to leave a comment below so I can get in touch with you!