Are you ‘Burnt out’?
Tired all the time? In constant pain?
You could have some thing called ‘Central Exhaustion Syndrome’
So you’re trying to be super human, juggling long hours at work being the best employee you can be, hunched over a laptop and mountains of paperwork, combined with a big commute, cramped up in a plane, train or automobile for hours on end, you have house work and never ending chores to do when you get home, you’re raising a family and trying to be the best mum, dad, husband or wife, son or daughter and best friend.
You’re exhausted, you don’t have time to get to the gym or do the sport/exercise that you love. You fall asleep at a drop of a hat, yet you’re waking up in the early hours. You’re burning the candle at both ends and now to top it all off, you’re body is starting to hurt, you’re picking up multiple injuries and you’re now dealing with chronic pain. Nothing seems to be working … so what’s wrong? It sounds like you have Burnt Out! You may have something called ‘Central Exhaustion Syndrome’.
So what are the typical precursors to Central Exhaustion?
- Your sleep patterns are disturbed – you’re waking in the early hours, usually between 2-4am.
- You drop off to sleep easily
- But you don’t want to get out of bed
- You’re working over 50-60 hours per week
- Possibly travelling more than 2 hours a day (train, plane or automobile)
- You have children/family commitments and you’re having difficulty coping with this on top of everything else.
- Not only that but your partner works long hours, you’re like passing ships.
- Never ending household chores
- You’re doing no or too little exercise so you have no endurance. Or, perhaps the other extreme of excessive gym/activity over and above work; you’re stressing your body to the max.
Stereotypically this affects females between the ages of 25-40 yrs, males 35-45yrs, conscientious and a perfectionist, an alpha personality type, you feel guilty if not you’re not ‘living up to the expectations of others’.
Because of time restraints, you have a poor diet, irregular eating habits and poor hydration. Other illnesses may have manifested, like anemia, diabetes and/or thyroid problems underpinning all of the above.
So what symptoms will we expect to see in Central Exhaustion Syndrome?
- Tired all the time
- Poor concentration
- Brain fog
- Poor memory recall
- Silly mistakes keep occurring
- Easily distracted
- Easily distressed/stressed
- Anxious/panic attacks
- Widespread aching
- General lack of energy
- Tiring quickly
- Stumble, trip up, bang into objects/Tendency to fall
So why does this happen? What’s going on inside the body?
Largely due to neurotransmitter depletion, the brain can’t make the communication chemicals fast enough, you’re running at full capacity and overloaded, can’t do any more (no reserve left) so as a result this stops the body functioning properly. Muscles don’t function or fire up as required, they’re more inefficient, more tired, more muscle spasm, more pain and discomfort. Your body just can’t heal itself because you’re not giving body enough rest, or a long enough break to heal fast enough.
If you keep pushing your body for too long with no respite, this can lead to depression and chronic pain, then you’re more liable to have silly accidents.
So what’s the solution? What can you do to stop or reverse this and get better?
- Diarise your life for a week, include all factors that make up the day, time spent on each activity, food, rest, hydration, and physical activity … everything!
- Start an exercise programme, you have to fit this in to start getting better and building your base level of endurance. Start mainly corrective core exercises like Pilates and stretching classes like Yoga. Add in 20 mins light cardio exercise, low impact 110-130bpm 3 times a week is the optimum if working, but must be non-consecutive days.
- Cut out irrelevant activities that drain you mentally and physically.
- Prioritise yourself, not others.
- Implement regular rest periods, every hour for 5-10 mins, ideally lying down and literally putting your feet up! Or stretching.
- Work on your sleep pattern and sleep hygiene: get into a routine, the same time to bed and rising every day. No computers, TV, laptops or smart phones minimum one hour before bed.
- Medication that can help, you need to treat the pain: stop abnormal pain patterns by breaking the cycle. Visit your GP and get them to refer you to a pain specialist like Dr John Outhwaite (London and Oxford)
- Physical treatment: Find a therapist with an open sympathetic personality, not scared of dealing with people with long term problems, someone who can support people over a longer period of time as there’s no quick fix. This can be a Physiotherapist, Osteopath, and Chiropractor.
- You’ll need to be educated and taught good corrective movement pattern exercises; muscle imbalances will need to be addressed. Invest in good soft tissue techniques like deep tissue massage or myofascial release techniques. You’ll need a prescription of cardiovascular exercises and a therapist that can communicate with multi-disciplinary team/personal trainer and pain specialist.
If you think this sounds like you, visit your GP and find a therapist that you trust like Pea Green Physio. Get a referral to a Pain Consultant like Dr John Outhwaite at The Manor Hospital in Oxford or in London. These professionals will put an action plan together and work simultaneously to get you back on track, with more energy and get you pain free. There’s no quick fix here, you have to commit to getting yourself better and recognising what you need to change in order to see results.
Co Written by Stephanie Smith of Pea Green Physio and Dr John Outhwaite of London Orthopaedic Clinic.
Pea Green Physio: 01869241411 or [email protected] to book in.
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