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Through our programs at Sanya Eco Spa and Wellness Centre, we help people overcome stress and burn-out as well as to find a deeper sense of well-being and inner peace. But what exactly is the difference between stress and burn-out?

If before COVID-19 stress and anxiety were a big concern, now they are simply top priority. COVID has pushed many people, and particularly women to the brink. That brink is called burn-out.

The first important thing to keep in mind is that there is a big difference between being stressed and being burnt out. The body is resilient to stress, we can handle a certain amount of stress for a certain amount of time. But when we are burnt out it means that we have pushed far past our limits. We haven’t given our body time to recover and we have emptied our reserve. Burn-out is something we need to take seriously as not only can it lead to health complications, but also to breakdown in relationships and depression. Many of which can be “easily” avoided by taking certain steps.

So let’s start with 3 ways you can tell if you are past stressed and into burn-out;

1.) The first one is when you are totally emotionally drained, where you just cannot even feel happy or sad anymore because you just have no energy. The definition of burnout is emotional exhaustion. If you have lost your drive to work or your passion for your hobbies, are feeling antisocial and withdrawn, this could be a sign of burn-out.

2)  When someone asks you how you are and you want to cry! This is sadly very common, but it is an important message that our body is trying to send us. We are not ok! The body can’t lie…even if the mind tries to ignore reality and keep pushing forward. This is something I experienced myself, and often see in others. Emotional “repression is a major cause of stress”, and when we can’t keep the tears in, it is our body’s way of telling us that we have a backlog of emotions that we need to deal with.

3) You really can’t sleep at night. There are many different reasons for insomnia. What often happens is when our adrenals are just exhausted from shooting out stress hormones, they get used to being at that edge for so long. They keep some reserves (stress hormones) back in case of emergency. When you get home at the end of the day and your body realises that there is no more fight or stress to get through, it releases the rest of these stress hormones. This is why we get this sort of second wind late at night and we find it difficult to sleep.

Of course, even without the adrenal glands playing their part, stress and anxiety alone are enough to keep the mind racing through the night. The closer we edge towards burn-out, the harder it is for us to process how we are feeling and the more the anxious mind takes over.

There are so many reasons for us to be pushed towards burn-out, many of them ‘external’. But the best thing we can do is focus on the choices we can make. Here are some tips

  1. Stop compulsively taking responsibility for others. We all feel good helping others, but if we are hurting ourselves along the way, then it is counterproductive. We must first do no harm, fill our own cups…and then use the overflow to share with people we love and care for. The truth is that truly unwinding patterns like this can take some work, and support from others with experience. Things can get very complicated when others depend on us, but there are always burdens that we have taken on that can be managed better. And it’s good to keep in mind that often it is not the task at hand that is the problem, but the way we feel about it.
  2. Learn to be in a relationship with your own body. We have become more and more disconnected from our bodies, and this means we are not aware of the messages our body is sending us. The body doesn’t lie, and the nervous system sends us messages in its own language; fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, dizziness/fainting spells, high blood pressure, panic attacks and so much more. Practices like yoga, meditation and dance deepen your connection to your body so that you can be more in tune and adapt yourself and your life around what is appropriate and sustainable for your body.
  3. Find a practice that connects you to nature. Nature is the ultimate healer. Spending time with nature also means spending time with ourselves, giving us room to understand ourselves better and separate who we are from that voice in our heads (it never shuts up!).

Burn-out often snaps us into realisation because our body literally gets to the point where it has to slam the brakes on. While it can feel like a curse, with the right support to get through it, it can actually lead us to a far happier and healthier place then we were pre-burn-out. Ultimately, whilst I could give a list of tips pages long, I believe healing starts with us wanting to get to know ourselves better and come into a deeper and more loving relationship with ourselves.

We shouldn’t feel guilty to just sit down and do nothing, to go for a walk or a treatment at a spa and wellness centre, in what I am aware is very limited time to yourself. Remember how you love everyone around you and want them to feel better when they are unwell. We should treat ourselves in the same way and add timeouts to our daily routine so we avoid getting to our limits.

There is beauty in slowing down and seeing things around us which we miss on a daily basis. We often forget who we were and the qualities that make us unique because we become slaves to expectations of society.

So whilst burn-out can be a burden, the way through it can lead us to a very beautiful destination.

“While advice and prescriptions may be useful, even more valuable to us is insight into ourselves and the workings of our minds and bodies. Insight, when inspired by the quest for truth, can promote transformation.”