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Community Member

Hi...I'm a person who has gone through chronic stress for many many years (though I didn't know it at the time), running my own business, and then afterward, to then crash into burnout and depression. That journey hit the lowest depths back in 2021. 2 years on and through applied habits and changing how I live I'm happy to say things have turned around. My experience was that what I fed my body, mind and brain has helped in this journey, and if I can help 1 person on this forum, or simply listen, then that is why I'm here.

16 Replies 16

Community Member

I found my way back by focusing on my physiology (mostly) to bring my nervous system (autonomic nervous system), into a 'downstate' or downregulation state to begin the recovery process. Essentially when we have burnout, our nervous system is overworked and then begins to not function at all. A bit like the engine of a car being over used, over-revved, and burning out! 


So it was rest, though not rest in the version of resting through watching TV or scrolling my phone (these two things can keep you in a sympathetic state, and overworking that nervous system, even though it may seem like rest). Both of these practices require adrenalin to function and that naturally comes from our sympathetic nervous system. The rest I am referring to is finding enough time for the nervous system itself to rest, through breathing to activate my vagus nerve. It become a practise (not long - 5-10 minutes each morning and evening) that helped do this. And then i built layers of other elements on top of this, including getting stronger again through exercise and so on. 


My burnout was not just workload though. It was also doing something I had no interest in doing anymore. Yet I owned the business, so was harder to change this. So went on for a long time! Hope this helps. 

Community Champion
Community Champion



Such a sweet thread, thank you so much for offering your time and energy here. 


I understand what you're saying about burnout - it's not necessarily being overwhelmed with work, it can also be overwhelm from the wrong kind of work, or uninteresting work.


I really like what you've said about overworking the nervous system and how to start resting more, it's true that recovery is born from small steps.


Amazing work!



Community Member

Hi Johnny_,


Muscle tension and emotional distress can be very common symptoms of anxiety. I know whenever my anxiety worsened my shoulder joint would inflame as well as other muscles in my body. I would also feel chest pain and become severely short of breath. It took me a few months for these things to calm down after going on the right medication and using proper strategies. It takes time but the fact that you are making progress is a good sign. Here are some example relaxation strategies: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/staying-well/relaxation-exercises 


Hope that helps.



Community Member

Hi Andrew, 


Thankyou for your reply. I feel this is what I’m doing more of now. Quiet rest. Limiting electronic stimulus, doing more breathwork and other quieter activities. I still exercise at the gym, nothing strenuous, get regular massage and physio too. 


it sounds like I’m on the right path and just need to practice more patients. 

I hope you found a new path that you enjoy as it really does make a difference. I enjoy my work and it was just unfortunate I was pushed too hard for too long while I had other health issues. 

thanks again. 

Community Member

Hi Bob,


Thankyou for replying. I appreciate you sharing your story too. I’m informed that anxiety is part of burnout and believe what your saying is right. It’s weird how my anxiety flares up when I get deep tissue massage but I’m managing that. 

thankyou for the link, I did t know that was there so I’ll check it out. 

thanks again. 

Community Member

Johnny it might be just one of your stress signatures, in that deep tissue massage. Stress and related anxiety can be associated with different things and embodied in different ways for each of us. Hence the personal nature of our stress signature.


Perhaps if knowing that you are having a deep tissue massage, post-massage down-regulation might be an idea straight after it. For instance just asking the massage specialist if you can have 5 minutes and use that time to do some coherent diaphragmatic breathing on a 4060 (4 inhale: 6 exhale) timing might have you walking out of the massage location with a more 'calm' state of mind. If you have an iPhone a good app is Breathe + but there are loads of them.  

Hi mmMekitty


Sure, I'll do my best to help. 



- we need to rest more than stress (sounds simple, yet such an important first principle of health)

- chronic stress, (losing site of the above point) can take some time to unwind inside the body given how it works, so it takes time

- if you are feeling down, given burnout and depression can share some common symptoms, then reflect on what has led you to that point. I could see all the clues and signs of burnout when I did this reflection. It was quite enlightening and energising to realise this.

- first get the nervous system under control. Rested up and out of sympathetic state, or at least most of the time, unless exercising or some simple problem-solving. It needs to regenerate and get healthy again. 

- use exercise for controlled stress but also BDNF production, which comes from the body (muscle activation) and can begin to help heal the brain again. BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) helps neuroplasticity and brain health, particularly learning and memory. 

- use breathing to bring about a parasympathetic deep resting state. The usual way to do this is applying a 10-sec breath 4060 (4 inhale:6 exhale) using the nose ideally. Nose has a strong connection to activate the diaphragm in that extended exhale, and this in turn provides great vagal nerve activation (or otherwise know as vagal toning). The vagus nerve is our most prominent parasympathetic nerve in the body and it promotes down-regulation. 

- get off technology as much as possible

- start the day super well, and choose to live differently, if how you were living was not serving you well.