CBD for Burnout: Can It Help Deal with Your Exhaustion?

A few years after college, I got what at that moment of my life was “my ideal job.” Great company, good pay, meaningful projects, and the strong possibility of a more desired position in the future. I couldn’t be happier and prouder of myself.

However, a little bit over a year later I was quitting. I surely loved the job, but 60-80 hours a week, workplace toxicity, feelings of stagnation, powerlessness and the pressure of proving myself, were making my whole life miserable.

A number of factors played a role in my quitting decision and the main one was job burnout.

Burnout is a widely used label that affects roughly 300 million people worldwide, especially millennials. However, it’s not considered an official condition for psychologists or psychiatrists. In fact, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) define it as “an occupational phenomenon.”

Even without official diagnosis recognition, burnout exacts a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. It also accounts for heavy health-care spending: approximately $125 billion to $190 billion each year.

If pressures at work are grinding you down, you may be on the road to burnout, but you still can fight its symptoms. Keep reading to learn why this happens and how CBD may help you deal with it, along with other natural options.

Table of Contents

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is the mark of our overworked times, a physical, mental and emotional overwhelm caused by long-term stress at work. It’s fueled by stress, however, stress isn’t necessarily a sign of burnout, because it’s to be expected with any job.

Being overworked is usually a short-term issue, as long as you’re managing it—and continuing to be optimistic and productive—you should have nothing to worry about. It’s also natural to feel tired at the end of a long slog at work.

But if you feel completely exhausted because you’ve been crossing your boundaries for a long time, you’re burned out.

Imagine that climbing the corporate ladder is like driving a car. You need to shift gears, refuel often, and cool off when you get all steamed up. If burnout were attacking your car, it would first extinguish its battery, then, robs its engine’s fuel and finally wrecks its internal combustion machinery.

Without ignition sources there’s no way you can start your car. This is how burnout depletes all your emotional, physical, and mental resources.

With nothing left in the tank to successfully cope with stress, it’s hard to contest worries unleashed by your primitive emotional system. You have no willpower to defend yourself and your ability to bounce back vanishes.

Although not considered a medical condition, burnout can set off some serious problems when ignored or unchecked. Conditions associated with it are coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, sadness, irritability, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental breakdowns.

Burnout is a cumulative process, that needs to be recognized and acted upon before it triggers the cascade of physical and psychological issues that put your health at stake. That’s why it’s important to recognize…..

Where Are You on the Burnout Scale?

First and foremost, you need to understand that burnout doesn’t occur overnight. It’s a slow-burn process, in which the alarm signal of stress goes off day in and day out for a long period. It begins with enthusiasm for the job and ends with severe psycho-somatic problems.

You pass through distinct phases—imagine moving down a gray scale from white to black—showing specific symptoms of burnout as your “fire” gradually dies. Study the symptoms listed under each phase, and you’ll know just how burned out you are.    

BURNOUT PHASES AND SYMPTOMS

In their book, The Work Stress Connection: How to Cope with Burnout, Robert Veninga and James Spradley explain the various phases of burnout, each with its defining symptoms or behavioral indicators. For the sake of brevity and simplicity, the journey to burnout is presented here in five phases:

THE KICK-OFF STAGE

In this initial stage, you’re new to a job. You’re bursting with enthusiasm and eager to prove yourself to the higher-ups. You willingly take on fresh challenges and pride yourself on being able to manage the stresses of work. 

THE RUNNING-LOW-ON-FUEL STAGE

As your responsibilities grow, you push yourself harder. You can’t distinguish downtime from work time. But you tire easily and cannot perform as efficiently as before. Your to-do list is full of tasks that you find boring, dull and oppressive.

You develop a negative attitude towards the job while becoming increasingly forgetful, irritable, and critical of your colleagues. Unless you take regular breaks at this stage, you could develop high blood pressure and sleep problems and slip into the next phase of burnout.

THE CHRONIC STRESS STAGE

In this third phase, all the symptoms of stage two become more acute. You begin to experience chronic exhaustion and, as a result, your work and social life suffer. You can barely get up in the morning. Just the thought of doing what you do well but have done over and over again, can make you physically sick.

You repeatedly come late to office, procrastinate, and often miss deadlines. You try to find an escape by consuming alcohol, drugs, or caffeine, but this only serves to push you closer to a crisis.

THE CRISIS STAGE

By the time you reach this phase you will recognize you have a serious problem on your hands. You’re emotionally drained, you have lost touch with your own needs and wishes, the things you used to love are pointless now.

You have possibly developed an addiction, and you obsess over your condition, feeling hopelessly inadequate. You may not realize it, but you’re just a whisker away from total burnout.

THE BURNOUT STAGE

At this point you’re a shell of your former self, barely able to function. Beset with health problems and plagued with self-doubt, you want to shut yourself off from family, friends, and the world at large. At this final stage of burnout, your symptoms will be so severe that you will have to seek professional help.

To fight burnout you need to recognize its warning signs, prioritize your well-being and seek help. I didn’t do any of this, I thought I was a tough cookie, capable of managing the excessive workload and the emotional turmoil my job was causing without external help.

I ignored the wake-up calls and kept pushing my limits until my body crashed. Anxiety settled in like a virus triggering panic attacks that left me gasping for air. My stomach was always upset, I had more sick days than I was allowed. But the worst was still to come. My immune system was called to action so often that it shut down. I got pneumonia and had to spend several weeks in bed.

I signed myself up for burnout, sacrificing my time and health to achieve my professional goals. Letting the problem unchecked and pushing harder didn’t bring me success, but poor health and the subsequent abandonment of my dream job.

Hopefully you can do better.

I know it’s difficult to see a way out, nevertheless, you can still return to your motivated, energetic self. One tool that may help you exit work burnout is CBD.

What Is CBD?

Even though the science behind its benefits is lagging, cannabidiol or CBD is shining as a natural solution to reduce symptoms associated with burnout as well as chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

CBD is one of the most abundant chemicals found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis includes both hemp and marijuana. For American law, hemp is defined as any cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has significant amounts of this mind-altering compound.

Unlike THC, CBD has no psychotropic effects, so no danger of buzz is associated with its use. Cannabidiol makes up the lion’s share in hemp, that’s why no matter how much hemp you smoke, it won’t get you high. And that’s also the reason Hemp-derived CBD is legal to obtain and use in nearly every state of the union.

Both CBD and THC are classified as cannabinoids for its ability to interact with specific receptors in your body linked to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a powerful network that acts as a balancing mechanism for other biological systems to keep your whole body running at its optimal level.

The ECS produces its very own cannabinoids—anandamide and 2AG—called endocannabinoids. These cannabis-like ligands bind the cannabinoid receptors and unleash a series of effects that help the ECS do its job successfully. The problem is that endocannabinoids are weak molecules that are rapidly destroyed after the body uses them.

CBD impacts the ECS by inhibiting the enzymes that break endocannabinoids down, promoting a major supply of these important molecules in your bloodstream. CBD also dampens down the activity of the cannabinoid receptors preventing their overstimulation. Overstimulated receptors are detrimental for your body and mind’s balance.

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Cannabidiol has already proven to be medicine. The FDA gave its approval to a drug that reduces severe seizures from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy in children.

Preclinical research and anecdotal reports indicate that CBD holds promise to treat other conditions such as:

  • Chronic pain and Inflammation
  • Depression and PTSD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Opioid withdrawal
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Bouncing Back from Burnout with CBD

Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all cure for burnout, but there are ways to manage the symptoms. And that’s how CBD may help, it doesn’t tackle burnout directly but may support your body on multiple fronts to help you recover faster.

Cannabidiol is touted as an anti-anxiety, anti-stress and antidepressant solution. It’s thought that it hits around 65 different molecular targets in the human body.

Here’s how CBD may work for burnout.

CBD ENHANCES THE SUPPLY OF ENDOCANNABINOIDS

As noted before, one way CBD may help with burnout symptoms is by inhibiting the breakdown of the endocannabinoids that your ECS naturally produces.

Endocannabinoids are the ligands that play a crucial role in many biological functions including pain management, appetite regulation, immune function, mood and pleasure.

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CBD INCREASES SEROTONIN

The compound can also interact with receptors out of the ECS, like the serotonin receptors in your brain. Serotonin is the “hormone of happiness” involved in anxiety, mood, learning, memory and sleep.

CBD REGULATES GABA

GABA receptors are susceptible to CBD’s action too, which may improve how this neurotransmitter regulates its calming effects. It’s believed that GABA reduces stress, anxiety and fear.

CBD KEEPS STRESS IN CHECK

Chronic stress is the oxygen of burnout and CBD helps keep it in check by regulating the production of adrenaline and cortisol. This duo constitutes the hormonal response to stress, which is vital for surviving.

However, when you’re burned out, the stress alarm is constantly ON and the perpetual buildup of the stress hormones take a huge toll on your overall health.

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CBD ALSO PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN

CBD reduces stress, but the magic doesn’t stop there, CBD goes the extra mile by countering the damage that chronic stress causes in your brain. Research shows that constant bouts of stress can shrink your brain. CBD is a neuroprotective, meaning it can help regrow fresh new neurons in the hippocampus, the brain’s area that forms your memories.

I didn’t know about CBD at the time burnout was sucking out my life, but it has helped with other mental issues I’ve dealt with throughout my life, like social anxiety, ADHD and insomnia. I’m a believer in the benefits of this compound but I still have to bring it to your attention that….

CBD is NOT a panacea for every modern illness. It may or may not work for you and the research surrounding its benefits is still weak.

Most data is at preclinical stage, which means results are only conclusive for rats. The safety of the compound has made headlines recently because the FDA doesn’t see it as a safe substance. Without any conclusive data the agency claimed that CBD is dangerous and called for more robust research to occur.

The FDA dire warnings completely contradict statements from the World Health Organization (WHO). On the summer of 2018, the WHO reviewed current data about CBD and released an official memo stating that:

  • CBD has proven to be an effective treatment for epilepsy in clinical trials.
  • There’s evidence that CBD may have medical value to treat a number of other conditions, but this evidence is not as strong than for treatment of epilepsy.
  • The compound is well-tolerated by most people and shows a good safety profile.
  • There’s no evidence of recreational use or danger of abuse.

The jury is out, however millions of people—including me—are already benefiting for the perceived calming effects this compound offers.

How to Take CBD for Burnout

Hemp-derived CBD is thriving in a new flanged and disruptive market. After legalization, hundreds of new items are popping up everywhere. It can be overwhelming trying to understand or trust all the products out there, that’s why I’ve put on some helpful guides that you can find in this website.

Meanwhile let me introduce you to the most popular ways to get your daily dose of CBD.

HOLD IT UNDER YOUR TONGUE

The most popular way to take CBD is to put a few drops of a high-quality oil or tincture and hold it for a minute before swallowing. This is known as the sublingual route of administration, a fast and effective way to start feeling the effects of this cannabinoid.

The mucous membranes underneath your tongue are rich in capillaries that help take CBD directly into the bloodstream bypassing the digestive tract.

Tinctures and oils are also easy to mix with food and beverages. You can blend some drops into your favorite smoothie or ice cream.

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VAPE IT

Despite health concerns spread for the recent health crisis, vaping is still the coolest way to administer the compound and it’s easy to see why. Inhaling CBD is the fastest method to get its soothing benefits, just a few puffs and you find relief within minutes. Vaping CBD is s also discreet and easy to use.

To make the inhaling experience more pleasant, the active ingredient—CBD, THC or nicotine— is usually mixed with chemical solvents and flavor agents. That’s why vaping has been in the eye of the storm, because these additives can be dangerous for your lungs. Despite the fact that no CBD cartridges were identified as the culprits of the health crisis—it’s recommended to leave the vaporizers only for occasions where instant relief is needed.

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EAT IT

CBD edibles are food and beverages products that have been infused with CBD. The list of edibles on the market is endless, even though the compound has not the FDA-approval to be infused in food or drinks.

Edibles are popular because they’re fun, discreet and convenient. You can take a gummy at work to feel more relaxed without drawing attention. The downside is that edibles take longer to kick in. You’ll have to wait an hour or more to see effects, but these effects are very long lasting.

GULP IT UP

Capsules are another way to take CBD that’s convenient and discreet. CBD pills same as edibles go through the first-pass metabolism before reaching the bloodstream, which lowers their bioavailability. But capsules provide better effects because they come with a fixed dosage and are free of unwanted additives.

If the earthy hemp taste grosses you, capsules are your go-to.

RUB IT ON YOUR SKIN

You can also apply CBD products directly onto the skin, they’re known as topicals. Your twenty-two square feet of skin are full of cannabinoid receptors that will interact with your topical once you rub it.

It’s worth noting that this method requires a high-concentration of CBD to be effective. Using topicals is a breeze, for a more focused relief just rub some on sore muscles or troubled skin areas.

How Much CBD Is Recommended to Exit Burnout

CBD affects people differently, therefore it’s not easy to come with a standardized dosage recommendation. You might need to experiment a little before finding a serving size that provides the desired effect.

When taking CBD for the first time it’s always recommended to start with the smallest dose, preferably before bed, that way if any side effect surfaces you just go to sleep. Take notes of how you feel, plan and adjust for the next dose. Sublingual drops taken under the tongue are the go-to for beginners, they’re easy to apply and act as quickly as 20 minutes after you take them.

It’s important to note that consistency is key to get the best out of CBD. Implement your CBD routine for at least three weeks to notice a reduction in burnout symptoms.

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Getting rid of burnout is a process that requires a holistic plan to build back up the emotional, physical, and mental resources that are running on empty. CBD may be a great add-on to your recovery plan, but it won’t make it magically disappear. To better turn off your burnout triggers, you need to also engage on activities and habits that help rebuild your coping resources.

Other Ways to Recover from Burnout

Recovering from burnout extends to much more than your professional environment. You need to reconnect with what feels good in all aspects of your life, giving yourself permission to do radical changes.

Remember that this is a slow road, patience and consistency are key for a complete healing. The strategies to shut burnout down are also good to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Prioritize time for self-care, note what works and what doesn’t for you, edit and implement what’s working on your daily routine.

Here are some self-care steps you can take to implement as part of your recovery. 

GET YOUR FULL QUOTA OF SLEEP

Let’s face it, when sleep is at its best, your work is, too. Considering that exhaustion is the first sign of burnout, you need rest to counter it. Health professionals recommend seven to eight hours of sleep for working adults, so make sure you get your full quota by following these tips: 

  • Avoid smoking and drinking (hard liquor as well as hot beverages like tea and coffee) at least six hours before turning in for the night.
  • Any exercise (including a brisk evening walk) should be done at least five hours before you hit the sack.
  • Your last large meal of the day should be had at least two hours before you go to bed.
  • Allow your body to wind down before bedtime. Soak in a warm bath, read a book, or listen to soft music in a dark, well-ventilated bedroom. Avoid working on digital devices such as a laptop, computer, or mobile phone.
  • Go to bed at the same time every day. Your body clock will adjust to the rhythm you set, and you will feel sleepy when you're supposed to.
  • Put a few drops of CBD under your tongue an hour before bed, one of the most praised benefits of this compound is its ability to help you sleep better.
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EAT BETTER TO RECOVER QUICKER

When you’re exhausted and heading for burnout, you need all the nutrition you can get to return to your former self. Cut down on caffeine and sugar and avoid processed foods. Eat only home-prepared meals, using seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. 

For essential protein, eat chicken, turkey, lean beef, and white-fleshed fish like pollock, flounder, haddock, halibut, and tilapia. Low-fat milk and cottage cheese, light tofu, plain Greek yogurt, and powdered peanut butter are also good sources of protein.

Meet your fiber requirements by consuming whole grains like wheat, millet, barley, oats, and rye, and veggies such as broccoli, carrots, avocados, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, beans, and peas.

Lentils are also a good source, as are Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. For fruits, shop for pears, apples, bananas, or strawberries. Remember to always buy fresh, not canned.

The food you eat will supply plenty of vitamins and minerals. But if you need to rectify a deficiency or bolster immunity with additional supplements, consult your doctor or nutritionist before you pop any pills.

LEARN TO RELAX

When you’re running on empty, you can’t keep pushing yourself. You must switch off and learn to relax. At the office you could use the spare time during the lunch break for a little shut-eye. If you can’t take a vacation, make sure you keep an hour or so aside each day for pure R&R.

Quality time spent with friends and family will do wonders to replenish your cognitive, physical, and emotional reserves. Some leisure reading will also help, as would a hobby.

Relaxing not only helps you reduce the negative impact of stress, it also helps you become more aware of your body and mind needs. Giving yourself space to regularly check in what’s going on physically and mentally will strengthen your coping skills.

GET SOME EXERCISE

According to research, any type of exercise is a stress reliever. It doesn’t only help you get in shape but also increases your overall health, and it’s also great for your brain. Exercising multiple times a week may even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent groundbreaking study found that just 20 minutes of daily exercise is as good as a regular cup of coffee for cognitive functions such as memory and learning.

Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, these feel-good neurotransmitters are also involved in the production of serotonin, the “hormone of happiness.”

Exercise also pumps up the production of endocannabinoids, which have been associated with the contented state you feel after running.

As with everything that’s worth in life, the key to exercise is consistency. Choose activities that you enjoy, it could be walking, hiking or cycling. If you’re the pumping-iron type, get a gym or club membership. The options are endless, you can even try taking a casual stroll around the office block during work hours to get your mind off the job and grab some sun and fresh air.

LET YOGA MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Yoga has been used for generations to help body and mind relax. The discipline, which involves stretching exercises and meditation, can be practiced at home or under supervision in a yoga classroom.

A report in PubMed refers to a study conducted to determine whether yoga could improve sleep quality and reduce work stress when practiced after work hours.

One hundred and twenty nurses were enrolled for the study, but only half were selected to perform yoga twice weekly, for 50-60 minutes per session, for six months. The results showed that the yoga group had “better sleep quality and lower work stress compared with nurses in the non-yoga group.” 

BRING BALANCE & EXCITEMENT BACK

An essential step to pave the road to recovery is to commit yourself to balance work and life. Learn to manage your time, factoring in leisure hours, and be prepared to reject additional responsibilities that would upset the program. Once you have a time management plan implemented bring the excitement back.

Your brain is designed to be jaded, so neurons get bored easily. This is known as the “hedonic treadmill.” This tendency makes excitement hard to maintain as you can get bored with things that used to thrill you.

To avoid this add spice into your life with variety. Changes, novel things and new experiences make life delightful. Vary the way you do what you do to increase job and life satisfaction.

But if your job has long lost its appeal, and it’s impacting your health and happiness, switch to one that matches your talents and temperament and gives you a sense of purpose. Quitting is a hard decision to make, especially if you don’t have a new job in sight. There’s no easy way to do it, but if you’ve tried everything and your current situation is still that bad, resigning is your best move before it gets worse. Life is too short!

Once you get going with a new job, set goals that are short-term and realistic, establish boundaries and make your health a priority. Whichever path you choose, you will be just fine because you’re competent and you take care of yourself.

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Final Considerations

Burnout undermines your energy, health, job performance, relationships and motivation. It might seem inevitable in a fiercely competitive world where the pressure keeps mounting. But you can avoid it. Avoiding burnout should be a lot easier than trying to pull out of it.

However, if you’ve already reached your breaking point, it’s doesn’t mean you’re defenseless. You still can reclaim the vitality, drive, and happiness you deserve by taking proactive steps to shut off the stress that burned you out. The earlier you recognize and act on the its warning signs, the quicker you will recover.

Remember that no matter what you do, life will never be stress-free. You need to make life-changing decisions to really reduce the factors that rob your energy and confidence. Implement a time management plan, add novel things to spice your work, take care of yourself and seek professional help.

CBD is not a “cure” for burnout, however, when integrated into a comprehensive self-care approach, the probabilities of success may increase dramatically.

To your well-being.