What is burnout and how it develops according to Ayurveda.
Our lifestyle choices greatly impact our overall wellness. In Ayurveda, when we mention body wellness, we also refer to mind too. There is always a need to create a harmonious balance between activity and rest, as well as a healthy balance between work and life’s simple moments of enjoyment.
When we live life in the fast lane, constantly attached to our work, and spending lots of time surrounded by technology, we might disconnect ourselves from nature and all its wonderful treasures. We can focus on work so much, rushing from one place to the other, overflowing ourselves with to do lists and with little time to pause and rest. Over time, the body and mind become too stressed, with the constant activation of the sympathetic nervous system which may lead to exhaustion, depletion and lack of energy to do anything. This can be one of the ways to interpret burnout in my opinion.
The body actually gives us multiple signs before an imbalanced state in the body occurs. If we are in tune with these and choose to focus on bringing balance back, which means to minimise these symptoms by correcting our lifestyle choices then illness or more serious complications will not develop. But if we wait until the signs and symptoms increase, this may result in a longer healing process.
Burnout also comes with warning signs and symptoms before it fully develops. Actually we can understand very early on, because the body tells us it needs rest. But if we continue to push ourselves beyond limits, ignore proper rest, joyful life activities and nourishing food choices, then burnout symptoms can become more prominent.
Let’s see some of the dosha imbalances that may occur in the process of burnout according to Ayurveda:
Vata dosha is represented by the elements of air and space and aggravation of these means that there is an increase of these qualities, which are coldness, dryness, lightness, agitation, body tremors, unsteadiness etc. The mind becomes agitated, unable to be still/focus and lots of stress, worry and anxiety can occur, which also affect the quality of sleep. An aggravated Vata dosha also manifests as dryness in the body, which means body becomes more stiff/rigid, with less energy and pain/aches of bones and joints. Too much air element creates coldness in the body and it tends to dry everything out.
When Pita dosha is aggravated, which is represented mainly by the fire element, heat increases. Then frustration, irritability and inflammation can start happening in the body. Pita also affects the blood circulation and Rekta dhatu (blood tissue) so aggravation of Pita dosha through improper diet and lifestyle choices can also lead to blood pressure problems, skin diseases and impurities. Aggravated Pita dosha can also refer to an imbalance of work and life because often aggravated Pita predominant dosha persons have a workaholic type of behaviour. When we do something in excess, especially when it comes to compromising the body/mind wellbeing, then complications and disease of body/mind may manifest.
There will also come a stage when the body/mind become sluggish, lazy and weak. This is the actual manifestation of the burnout at its peak. There is no energy to do anything and everything may start to feel difficult, including basic necessities such as showering and sleeping will feel like too much effort. These are signs of Kapha imbalance. Kapha dosha, represented by the elements of earth and water. Kapha dosha gives the body the strength and stamina. It represents our immune system also and most of the other dhatus (body tissues). Out of these, Rasa is the first dhatu and the one which gives life and nourishment to the others. When this dhatu is weak and out of balance, then all the other body tissues will be affected. The immune system can also weaken which affects the proper functioning of the whole body.
So as we can see, if we ignore the beginning signs, then more complications will appear. It is always advised to take proper rest and nourish ourselves when experiencing times of stress. We must always learn to listen to our body/mind and take care of these.