How to beat burnout

Luke Parker
How to beat burnout

A 2012 Statistics NZ survey showed 1 in 5 Kiwi workers struggle with work-related stress, and 1 in 10 are unhappy with their work/life balance.

Becoming burnt out is more common than ever as we push ourselves physically, socially, and emotionally in our fast-paced lives.

On a mission to beat burnout, Auckland-based integrative medicine specialist Dr Kathleen Wills has released her new book, ‘Beat Burnout: Dr Kathleen’s Holistic Guide to Happiness.


What is burnout?

“Burnout can be a complex condition impacting on sleep, nutrition, hormones, and environmental toxins,” she says. “The book is a practical, easy to follow guide to help explain why it’s happening. It also includes the pitfalls to watch out for and how a proactive approach can greatly reduce the likelihood you, or someone you love, will experience burnout.”

She says people going into burnout are usually passionate, busy, and often successful people who try to ignore feelings of a chronic sense of exhaustion and instead reach for quick fixes of caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol to keep going.

“They may hide it well, but the feeling silently drags them down and eventually affects their performance, activities, and relationships.”

SEE ALSO: Tired and unsatisfied? Know the right way to reboot a career

Dr Wills says burnout can affect anyone and has treated athletes, academics, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, artists, child-minders, lawyers, teens, and children.

“They’ve been to their doctors, who run the standard blood tests which come back normal. But they are still suffering.”


Common signs of burnout

Dr Kathleen Wills

Dr Kathleen Wills

  • Struggling to get out of bed in the morning & general fatigue

  • Struggling to get to sleep

  • Brain cloud until you have coffee or energy drinks

  • Low moods or anxious feelings and irritability

  • Low sex drive

  • Digestion issues (unpredictable bowel movements, wind and bloating)

  • Frequently getting sick (picking up everything going around)

  • Short term memory decline

  • Frequent headaches

  • Muscle aches

  • Dizziness

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Frequently feeling overwhelmed by all your demands

  • Exhaustion

  • Lack of motivation

  • Frustration, cynicism and other negative emotions

  • Cognitive problems

  • Slipping job performance

  • Interpersonal problems at home and at work

  • Not taking care of yourself

  • Being preoccupied with work when you’re not at work

  • Generally decreased satisfaction


6 key causes of workplace burnout

  • Lack of control over work tasks and role

  • Values conflict between worker and organisation

  • Insufficient rewards - financial and otherwise

  • Work overload

  • Unfairness of rules and work policies

  • Breakdown of community and relationships between teams

SEE ALSO: Tired and unsatisfied? Know the right way to reboot a career

Dr Kathleen Wills

Dr Kathleen currently practices Integrative Medicine in Westmere, Auckland. She speaks regularly for corporate and educational organisations and Wellness Retreats New Zealand. She is a health blogger online for MiNDFOOD magazine and her book on executive wellness is due to be published in 2015.

Dr Kathleen was featured in NZ Herald Viva (September 2014) as one of the top ten health practitioners in the country.

She holds a US doctorate degree in Integrative Medicine (I.MD), graduating first in her class. This qualification incorporates the insights of both conventional and evidence-based nutritional medicine to support the total wellness of a person. This concept is recognised by the top seven hospitals in the USA such as Harvard, Duke and Johns Hopkins.

She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Anthropology in which she studied signs of nutritional deficiencies and disease.

Dr Kathleen is currently a leader in the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA) and a member of academic honour societies Phi Betta Kappa and Golden Key along with memberships in numerous medical bodies. Previously, she worked in research in Māori Health at The University of Auckland Medical School.

Dr Kathleen has been active in the community for seven years as a volunteer certified SPCA/St John’s Animal Assisted Therapist with her Siberian husky dog, Una, comforting children in hospital.

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