There are 5 stages of burnout.

According to Ayurvedic Medicine, there are specific symptoms that develop during each of these 5 stages.

Knowing those warning signs can help you get the support that you need when you need it.

Stage 1, the “honeymoon” phase

It’s when you get excited about something, and you start doing things like burning the midnight oil.

Your healthy routines fall by the wayside…

You stop exercising…

You start skipping meals and eating at all times of day and night. 

In the back of your head, you know this is not good, but you’re on a high!

Stage 2, the onset of stress phase

In this stage, you start feeling the pressure…

You notice you’re feeling overwhelmed from time to time.

 You catch yourself eating emotionally and having cravings.And then…

… digestive troubles show up.

Depending on your tendencies, you start experiencing gas and bloating (Vata), indigestion (Pitta), or sluggish digestion, feeling tired and sleepy after eating (Kapha). 

In Ayurvedic Medicine, we call this stage, the accumulation stage

Because the doshas, Vata, Pitta or Kapha accumulate in the digestive system and provoke digestive troubles. 

It’s not just the type of foods you eat…

…stress affects how you digest the food you eat.

Stage 3, the chronic stress phase 

At this point, you can’t get a good night’s sleep. 

And when you wake up, you feel exhausted and unmotivated.

Your mood is all over the place and you’re having highs and lows, feeling elated one minute and deflated the next. 

Focusing on one thing is hard and you’re forgetting words.

In Ayurveda, we call this phase or stage, the overflow stage.

That’s when the imbalance that started in the gut reaches other systems in the body.

If it’s an overflow of Kapha dosha, then you’re feeling deeply lethargic and unmotivated.

You’re experiencing some swelling, swollen glands, swollen joints and edema.

If it’s an overflow of Pitta Dosha, then you’re feeling hot-headed and you’re losing your temper quicker than usual. 

You’re experiencing some inflammatory conditions like skin rashes and the onset of inflammatory skin issues. Your body has difficulty absorbing certain minerals like iron and you experience iron-deficiency.

If it’s an overflow of Vata dosha, then you’re experiencing some anxiety and overwhelm, as well as lower back pain and joint stiffness.

Stage 4, the burnout phase 

At this point, you’re in vital exhaustion mode…

Your immune system is weakened.

You don’t feel like yourself anymore.

And find yourself getting sick more frequently. 

Here’s why…

… because of Ama.

Ama is a term in Ayurvedic Medicine that describes the waste, toxins and impurities caused by faulty digestion and an erratic, fast-paced, intense or sedentary lifestyle.

When Ama leaves the digestive system, it spreads into the rest of the body and affects organs and systems that are particularly vulnerable; like the head, heart, joints, bones and hormones.

Migraines, joint pain, arthritis and cardio-vascular issues like hypertension, joint pain show up.

Women start gaining weight, especially around the middle.

You feel like you can’t cope. You can’t have one more thing on your plate.

We call this stage in Ayurveda, the relocation stage, the symptoms go from being systemic to being location-specific.

Stage 5, the habitual burnout phase

This is when it becomes more challenging to manage your symptoms and recover from burnout.

On top of feeling burned out, you could get a prognosis from your medical doctor.

In Ayurveda, we call this stage, the diversification stage.

It’s very important that you seek help immediately!

How do you recover from burnout?

First, recognize the warning signs.

Then, seek professional support to take care of your physical (diet, lifestyle) and mental health (stress management).

Get the support of your family and friends. Ask for time off at work. 

The incidence of burnout has increased substantially over the past 2 years. So much so that health care practitioners are calling this time in our world the Great Burnout

Employers and policymakers need to pay attention! If you or someone you know is edging burnout, use this article to help you communicate with your employer why you need the day off (or more) off.