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How to Attain Vitality While Overcoming Burnout

by Mark Cammack    May 24, 2018

A red pencil's point breaks while writing the word

Please do not reach the breaking point. Instead, read the rest of this article for helpful information on maintaining vitality when facing stress.

When I was a graduate student I assisted with research, writing, and computer work from The Rosalynn Carter Institute. I was told to go out, gather essential information on stress and burnout, compose articles and run data through the computer. I went through approximately 1000 research abstracts regarding various aspects of stress in less than a year. There was much talk of burnout from persons affiliated with the institute. It is not that they were burned-out, at least not usually, rather they were studying the topic.

Of particular interest was how and why caregivers became exhausted. There was also discussion regarding brain damaged persons. These are not the people you may think of at first. The concern involved workers in high stress jobs. I remember a research associate and professor who was adamant regarding the health profiles of police officers and nurses. He pointed out unhealthy behavior patterns and was against alcohol consumption and unneeded intake of medicine. The stressed persons were trying to re-balance their brain chemistry and lives in ways that were harmful in the long run.

The brain and body can be damaged from ongoing stress. I believe that there is a difference between positive and negative stress. Physical changes take place that involve the adrenal glands and much more. The negative stress response can occur too frequently and intensely in some job and life positions: hence the natural buffers to it are being exhausted. This leads to burnout.

Each person has a unique biochemical individuality. What one may withstand others cannot. A small number of people are stress resistant while some have low tolerance. For example, aircraft test pilots are screened for stress resilience. They must be able to think calmly when things may be unpredictable or downright dangerous. At the other end of the spectrum is the unfortunate person who is fatigued from almost any stress. This may include physical exertion, chemical or toxin exposure such as with pesticides, or even daily life.

While viewing physiology talks, an expert lecturer mentioned the ongoing stress pattern as being associated with elevated blood pressure. He stated high blood pressure could be created in some persons by daily stress. He went on to say that it is not salt consumption causing the difficulty in someone who is healthy, as they can metabolize reasonable amounts of salt. In nature, animals will seek out salt deposits in the form of salt licks and take in sodium and minerals there. The gentleman emphasized that it is the stressed lifestyle that we need to be aware of.

Interestingly, during one discussion, some workers were making noise by loudly banging in an adjacent room. They were apparently performing construction or destruction of some sort. The lecturer commented that the administration should have competently scheduled such matters so as not to interfere with presentations. He then took a deep breath, exhaled, and began counting in reverse, “10...9...8...7...” He was using stress control techniques. When the situation continued, he stepped out of the room and had a brief talk with the workers. Everything then quietly proceeded as normal.

The noise was a type of disruptive environmental affector and the lecturer made efforts to relax himself. Ultimately, the affector had to be dealt with. We would likely have a burnout situation if this scenario continued regularly.

We usually do one of a few things when facing critical dilemmas. If harmony is not possible when negative affectors appear, then we either change, we change the affector, we relocate, or we cease to exist. The body tries to maintain a healthy state called homeostasis. In turn, we try to keep the rest of life balanced. A key is knowing what is or is not under personal control, and taking appropriate action.

These are some things that may help improve health and reduce burnout:

1. Daily meditation
2. Regular exercise
3. Nutrient dense and high antioxidant foods
4. Time released B and C vitamins
5. Optimism and humor
6. Low sugar intake
7. Relocating to a healthy environment
8. Positive social network
9. Avoidance of toxins

We have many affectors acting on us at any given moment. It is the sum total of these in a positive to negative affector ratio that can determine the outcome. The greater the number of healthy positives, the more likely we thrive instead of just survive (or not).


Photo is a derived work © Copyright 2018-2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. The original work is from Pedro Figueras.

© Copyright 2018-2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.