Can Mastering Your 'Energy Trifecta' Help You Beat Burnout and Stress?
There's no denying the fact that burnout and stress are real issues we need to take more seriously. Although we can tolerate stress for a little while, feeling burnt out or suffering from prolonged stress can culminate into serious mental health concerns if ignored.
While we've previously detailed various ways you can spot the signs of burnout and simple self-care practices you can do to prevent stress, empathy burnout and insomnia from occurring, there is a lesser-known way you can stay on top of your mental health: mastering your 'energy trifecta'.
Here, psychologist Rucha Lele details what the 'energy trifecta' is, and how you can use it to help you beat burnout and stress.
Firstly, why do we experience burnout and stress?
People can experience burnout and stress for different reasons, however, the most obvious culprit is physical and mental exhaustion. This is when a person feels mentally and physically tired, overwhelmed, demotivated and unable to see positivity in their situation, the cause of which is most often related to ongoing work and excessive stress. Unfortunately, some people will continue with life while constantly feeling this way.
Chronic tiredness and fatigue are also common results of burnout and stress, meaning a person will feel constantly exhausted and tired, and no amount of rest will fix it. This unfortunately can lead to other issues such as anxiety or a depressed mood about dealing with everyday life (hello, 'languishing').
Someone experiencing burnout and stress may also experience insomnia or have trouble sleeping, as constant stress can cause a person to overthink things at night-time, leading to unrestful or disrupted sleep.
What is the 'energy trifecta'?
The 'energy trifecta' refers to the way everything in our body is connected. It looks at the way our gut, our hormones and our immune system are all linked and what can happen when it’s not working in synergy. Our brain is considered to sit in the middle of this trifecta, with all the systems communicating with each other.
Experts have discovered our gut bacteria have a lot more impact on us than previously thought. The theory recognises that if we eat something that disagrees with us, our gut bacteria will communicate with our immune system and hormones, and the result can be sickness or increased - or decreased - levels of things like cortisol or oestrogen. How much energy we have is considered a reflection of how healthy our trifecta is.
How to boost your 'energy trifecta' to beat burnout and stress
The first step is being mindful of what we are consuming because so many bodily processes can start and stop with our gut. The idea is that bad digestion can equal a bad mood, so therefore we need to do some work on mastering our digestion. For example, do you find yourself reaching for sugar and caffeine when you're stressed? Simply understanding these types of food will cause more harm - where you should be consuming nutrient-rich vegetables and other fibre-rich foods instead - is a simple way to boost your 'energy trifecta'.
In saying this, unfortunately, this is no one whole approach to fixing someone's diet given that every single person is different. Mastering this requires working out what is best for you and sticking to that. You can of course consult an expert such as a dietitian to get to the bottom of it.
There are also various other things you can do from an overall health perspective, which can assist with beating burnout and stress:
1. Stop and take a moment
The first step to beating burnout and stress is to recognise and accept what is happening, whether it's self-identified or noticed by someone else. It's important to force yourself to stop and alleviate some of the excessive stresses and workload in your life. This means making whatever changes necessary to change the things causing you to feel constantly overworked or stressed.
It could be by putting some boundaries in place such as speaking with your boss about your work hours or work load, or asking to share the chores and tasks with your loved ones at home. It's important to learn how to prevent this in the future by building resilience, identifying signs and symptoms earlier, and developing management plans, all which can be done by recognising the signs early on.
2. Take some time off
Sometimes when we’re busy or going at a fast pace, the last thing we feel inclined to do is take some time off. However, when it comes to stress and burnout, taking some time off can be the only real thing that will help.
Make plans to have some time off to help recover – so long as you commit to actually taking a break and not working through it. Recognise that while it might feel counterintuitive, it will be better for you in the long run.
3. Optimise your life
For some people, taking time off is impossible. After all, some responsibilities like work or children can’t wait for you to take a break. If that is the case, look at ways that you can optimise your life for better management. This might mean getting up an hour earlier to take some time out to exercise or simply have a bit of ‘you time’.
It could also mean meal prepping or ordering your groceries online – whatever little things you can implement that will ease your workload and give you some time back. Spend some time really looking at your day and noticing the things that take up time, and ask yourself if you can eliminate or optimise those.
4. Prioritise yourself
Prioritise number one – you! Recognise when you are feeling constantly stress and make a point to diarise the time you need to focus on yourself. That might mean blocking out an entire day in your calendar for ‘you time' and letting those around you know that this is a non-negotiable. It's extremely difficult to help others if you are not okay.
5. Create a positive work/life balance
Ensuring we can build a clear enough divide between work and personal life is vital for our mental health. Creating a positive work-life balance can ensure we find time for ourselves, find time to wind down and time to spend with our loved ones.
If we don’t get this, we can easily become irritable, anxious, stressed and find it hard to give ourselves to others. Burnout and stress are common issues that occur when people don't get the opportunity to switch off. Therefore, it's important to set clear boundaries between your work life and home life, and stick to it as a priority.
6. Seek help from a professional
Another thing to remember is that everyone is prone to experiencing stress or burnout from time to time, however, if this continues for a prolonged period, it's important to seek help from a professional. Just like you’d consult a GP or personal trainer for your physical health and fitness, seeking an expert’s advice for mental health is simply like a trainer for your mind. Remember it’s a work in progress, which can require an expert’s help.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.
If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.
Rucha Lele is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.