Notice your Stress Response cycle and help yourself avoid burnout

Welcome to your Tune In* Tuesday blog post. This week we’re talking burnout. And a little psychoeducation to help you better understand your brain and nervous system…

*to that highest, wisest, truest, wildest, most joyful, brilliant and miraculous part of yourself

zombies behind shabby door
Feeling like a zombie? Rest BEFORE you die (or don’t die) Photo by cottonbro studio on

The HPA Axis and burnout

The hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is a neuroendocrine system that regulates digestion, mood, sex drive, energy levels and immune response.

When I first learned about it, more than a decade ago, I was ANNOYED.

Basically, where our Stress Response, in our ancient ancestors, used to be triggered by the occasional saber-toothed tiger or woolly mammoth, the thought of an EMAIL can trigger it.

We get flooded with the same stress hormones that we need to actually fight/flee/freeze to survive when thinking about a bill or conversation.

And when the HPA axis is so sensitive due to SO many Stress Responses (from trauma, adhd or even a society that pushes the go go go energy of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system so much of the time), WE DON’T EVEN NEED THE CONSCIOUS STRESSFUL THOUGHT TO SET OFF THIS CASCADE OF STRESS HORMONES.

This of course has an impact on digestion, sleep, immune function, mood and overall health and wellbeing.

It can – if left unchecked – lead to burnout and chronic conditions where our bodies then FORCE us to rest. Even then, if not dealing with the root causes, it can feel impossible TO rest.

US poster of Jess Franco's

The Body Battery (see yesterday’s Substack post) is helping me see the progress I’ve made AND the prioritising of rest I need to amp up and continue.

How might YOU honour the hard work your HPA axis has been putting in today?

Does the above information resonate for you? Maybe you’re already aware and have been hoping for simpler, easier, calmer times ahead without actually making much needed changes?

If we don’t listen to our body’s whispers – and feeling more irritable can be a sign that we NEED to rest – they can turn into screams that potentially leave us incapacitated for a much longer time.

A stitch in time really CAN save nine.

beautiful woman with long curly hair laying on garbage container
Feeling drained? LISTEN to your body. Photo by Lucas Alves on

This is not to scare you

Just imagine for a moment.

What if you really loved yourself?

What foods would you nourish yourself with (v putting extra pressure on the HPA axis)?

When would you get to bed? (I know, I know. But thanks to my Body Battery, I truly AM being better. Apart from nights like last night when I discovered that Angel Houdini (trapped neutered and ESCAPED (v released) feral cat) HADN’T escaped and had been holed up in my house, TERRIFIED, for 3 more days but ANYone would struggle to sleep through that chaos. And he’s sage and sound and out and about OUTSIDE again as of this morning.)

How often would you give your brain a break each day?

How often would you prioritise time with loved ones?

How often would you prioritise FUN?

How would you make more time for time in nature, yoga nidra, other meditative practices, EFT and other energy work etc?

Want to delve deeper?

Please do say ‘Hi!’ if you’re at the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy conference in Dublin on Saturday 21st, October. I’m one of three presenters and I’ll be sharing EFT and other embodied self care ideas to support therapists in avoiding or at least learning from burnout. FIND OUT MORE

Read yesterday’s Monday Motivation post with some of the ways I’m using technology to help myself avoid my OWN burnout/s and Sunday’s Personal Peace post with embodied journal recording prompts (aka private vlog journal) on identifying signs of and preventing burnout (+ oracle card reading from the Moonology deck + live call details).

And let me know how you’re getting on in the comments! (Extra Embodied members have access to private group chats where we can explore each theme in more depth)

with love,

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