Overload, overwhelm and burnout - what is it that they all have in common? We can experience one or more of them to different degrees. As an adult we come up with a variety of coping strategies to be able to deal with them.
Overload, where there is too much on your plate and it is difficult to juggle everything, it is that extra little bit of something that tips the scales off balance. Whether it is that extra task, the extra repetition of the exercises the overload stretches you out of your comfort zone. It is this ability to stretch outside of our comfort zone that allows up the opportunity to grow, change, build strength, resilience and learn.
Overwhelm is where the stretch out of our comfort zone occurs but it goes past the ‘stretch zone’ safety. Then we are into the territory of overwhelm, which can lead to panic or shut down. When things are overwhelming the nervous system switches into flight, fright or freeze and the body is pumped with adrenaline and cortisol. When the body is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol it signals to the brain to increase the heart rate, produce more glucose, dilate the pupils and inhibit digestion. This is a normal stress response of the sympathetic nervous system, but left unaddressed or when extended for extended periods of time this can lead to imbalance, chronic stress and even burnout.
Burnout is where there is nothing left the system has worked past the stretch zone to keep us alive and safe but there is either insufficient or no recovery period. The para-sympathic nervous system’s role is to calm us down, it gives our body and system time to relax, recover and repair. If our systems have already passed beyond the stretch zone safety and the buffer zone of support has nothing left, the back up systems are depleted and no more then we can experience burnout. Burnout is when excessive and prolonged stress leads to exhaustion – physical, emotional and mental. It can happen to anyone at anytime but according to a recent study by Winona State University an average professional experiences burnout by the age of 32 (link - https://www.studyfinds.org/average-worker-career-burnout-age-32/).
Some symptoms of burnout include chronic headaches, complete neglect of personal needs, desire to ‘drop out of society’, chronic stomach or bowel problems, pessimistic outlook on work and life, feeling empty inside, self-doubt and more. You can find out about the topic of burnout from specialist Tania Diggory of ‘This is Calmer’