Beating Burnout

Beating Burnout

Adrenal burnout, also known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion, is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that arise when the adrenal glands, which produce hormones involved in stress response, become overworked and unable to function optimally. While not recognised as a medical diagnosis by conventional medicine, adrenal burnout is often discussed in alternative health circles as a consequence of chronic stress and lifestyle factors.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently working hard to change this, so people can receive a diagnosis and seek treatment. Right now it is considered as an occupational phenomenon. It is not classified as a medical condition.


According to WHO “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

It is characterised by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or
  • feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

The World Health Organisation is about to embark on the development of evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace to help reduce this very real phenomenon.


Symptoms of adrenal burnout can vary widely among individuals but may include:

  • Fatigue: Persistent and overwhelming tiredness, even after adequate rest and sleep, is a hallmark symptom of adrenal burnout. Individuals may feel physically and mentally drained, with diminished energy levels and motivation.
  • Stress-related Symptoms: Adrenal burnout symptoms are those associated with chronic stress, such as irritability, anxiety, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. Individuals may also experience heightened sensitivity to stressors and a diminished ability to cope with daily challenges.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Adrenal burnout can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia, fragmented sleep, or poor sleep patterns. Sleep disturbances may exacerbate fatigue and contribute to overall feelings of malaise.

Hormonal Imbalances: Dysfunction of the adrenal glands can result in disruptions to hormone production and regulation, leading to symptoms such as irregular menstruation, decreased libido, and fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Digestive Issues: Adrenal burnout may manifest with gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Stress-induced changes in gut motility and function can contribute to digestive disturbances.

Muscle and Joint Pain: Chronic stress and adrenal dysfunction can exacerbate muscle tension and inflammation, leading to generalized aches and pains, stiffness, and muscle weakness.

Immune Dysfunction: Prolonged stress and adrenal burnout can suppress immune function, increasing susceptibility to infections, allergies, and autoimmune conditions. Individuals may experience frequent illnesses or prolonged recovery times from common ailments.

Adrenal burnout differs from acute stress in that it represents a chronic and cumulative state of dysregulation in the body’s stress response system. While acute stress is a normal physiological response to perceived threats or challenges, chronic stress can lead to sustained activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, resulting in prolonged secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol.


To reduce the risk of adrenal burnout and support adrenal health, consider the following strategies:

  • Stress Management: Implementing stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, time in nature or progressive muscle relaxation can help mitigate the impact of chronic stress on the body.
  • Balanced Lifestyle: Prioritise adequate sleep, nutrition, and hydration to support overall well-being and resilience to stress. Establishing regular sleep patterns, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, and staying hydrated can help maintain adrenal health.

Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity can help regulate cortisol levels, improve mood, and promote overall health. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises to support adrenal function and manage stress.

Healthy Boundaries: Establishing boundaries and learning to prioritise self-care can help prevent burnout and overwhelm. Practice saying no to excessive commitments and obligations, and allocate time for relaxation, hobbies, and social connections.

Reduce or avoid Alcohol and other recreational drugs: While the immediate relief you receive from these may seem to take away your stress, it is only a short-term fix, and not a good one. It will only exacerbate the very symptoms you are trying to drown.

Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or mental health professionals for support and guidance during challenging times. Building a strong support network can provide emotional validation, perspective, and coping strategies for managing stress effectively.

While adrenal burnout is not universally recognised within the medical community, adopting lifestyle modifications aimed at reducing chronic stress and supporting overall well-being can help mitigate the risk of adrenal dysfunction and promote resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

If you need support dealing with these or any other symptoms you’re experiencing from chronic stress and anxiety, please reach out. The team at NAWA specialise in the treatment of stress related health disorders.

Learn more how NAWA Wellness can you help contact us today!

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