Exhaustion – Modern world epidemic

Modern times demand a lot from individuals and their bodies and minds. If fatigue and physical stress become chronic and the body can no longer recover from the demands of life, a person becomes exhausted. In this article, we focus on the causes and symptoms of exhaustion and how to recover from it.

The difference between tiredness and exhaustion
Exhaustion is not the same as tiredness. Tiredness can be quickly recovered by resting. To recover from tiredness, it is enough to have a good night’s sleep and then have the energy and enthusiasm to do things again. This is not enough for chronic fatigue and exhaustion, and the person often still lacks energy even after many well-rested nights. In more severe cases, simply getting out of bed can be almost impossible.

A good analogy for the difference between tiredness and exhaustion is a cell phone battery: When you have used your cell phone all day and the battery shows a charge level of 5%, you put it on the charger. Soon the battery is full and the phone works normally again. This analogy illustrates tiredness and recovery from it.

If a cell phone battery has been used for many years and has worn out, it will no longer charge, even if it is kept on the charger for a long time. The battery just can’t take a charge, no matter how much you try to charge it. This situation illustrates exhaustion; rest no longer fixes tiredness, as it does in a healthy person.

Alleviate your exhaustion with modern natural healing techniques. Help yourself and others with Physical Body Healing course
Physical body healing

What causes exhaustion?
A cell phone battery won’t take a charge because it has worn out, meaning it was used too much. The same analogy applies to humans to a large extent: the body has been subjected to too much long-term stress and is no longer able to recover from the demands placed on it through normal rest.

So exhaustion is caused by excessive and persistent stress that has lasted too long. As a result, the body’s regulatory systems no longer recover from intense stress with normal rest.

The Physiology of Fatigue
As a result of stress, the body’s automation triggers a chain reaction where the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system becomes activated. This starts a chain of actions in hormonal activity where the pituitary gland directs the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones raise the body’s energy level so that the person can cope with incoming challenges.

It is important to understand that this stress reaction is triggered by both physical challenges, such as going to the gym or forest work, and mental challenges, such as work pressure, financial worries, the death of a loved one, a threat pictured by the news and media or anything similar that weighs on the mind. Fatigue does not necessarily require intense physical strain, just prolonged mental pressure or worry can lead to fatigue, and often the mental aspect is the biggest reason why people become chronically fatigued and exhausted.

Modern people have many reasons to be stressed. If the person is a bit of a workaholic, who easily thinks that rest is a waste of time and that a performing and efficient person is a good person, the recipe for exhaustion is ready. Then it is just a matter of time before stress levels exceed the body’s ability to recover from it.

The physical body can withstand high levels of stress and recover from it, as long as the stress is occasionally released and the body can recover. Physiologically, this means that the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the counterbalance to the sympathetic one, is activated regularly. This occurs especially at night when we sleep deeply. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the body recovers and repairs itself so that it is ready for new challenges the next day. The “batteries” are then fully charged and the body has the resources to do things again.

Charge the body’s batteries with the Physical Body Healing course

What triggers exhaustion?
Exhaustion often strikes during a stage in life when there are multiple stressors at once. The body can handle even strong single stress well, but when stress factors start to pile up, at some point the body’s ability to adapt to stress is exceeded.

For example, a person has intense work stress and is building a house at the same time. If to this workload a close one’s death is added, the stress load grows so large that the body’s regulatory systems can no longer initiate recovery for most people. At this point, the sympathetic nervous system may remain in an over-activated state. After that, it’s just a matter of time before the “battery runs out” and the body no longer recovers normally. Physiologically, this is reflected in the fact that the body can no longer produce stress hormones and their levels drop, causing the body’s energy levels to drop and normal rest no longer fixes the situation. Like the cell phone example, the batteries no longer recharge, even if one rests a lot. So, the body is no longer just tired, but the autonomic nervous system’s function and related hormone function are disturbed and no longer function normally.

Stages of Fatigue
The tolerance to stress and the progression of fatigue can be measured by cortisol production through a blood test. The burden on the body’s regulatory systems begins to show changes in hormone function, which in turn begins to feel like different symptoms. If the person does not listen to the body’s messages and continues with a consuming lifestyle, it will eventually lead to illness or total burnout.

A normal single blood test taken by a doctor is a needle test, which unfortunately does not tell much about the cortisol production of the body, because if the cortisol rhythm of the whole day is not seen, it cannot be determined if there is a problem with hormone function. A more comprehensive test is the so-called saliva test, which is taken four times a day. This test shows how cortisol production changes at different times of the day.

Normal Cortisol Production
The figure below shows the normal cortisol production at different times of the day. The black dots represent the measurements taken at different times of the day. Their values are within the reference values.

Cortisol production should be highest in the morning and decrease towards the evening to allow the body to calm down for the night. The figure shows the normal range of variation in green, within the normal range of production.

Stage 1 of exhaustion: High Cortisol Production
The below graph shows the cortisol production of an individual in phase 1. In this phase, the production is high and the person feels very energetic as a result. They may not sleep much at night and sleep for short periods (because their body is overstimulated). They wake up feeling energized thinking they are “in great shape” because they can wake up early and do a lot of things. In reality, the body is overstimulated and headed toward the next phases of burnout.

Stages 2 and 3 of exhaustion: Hormonal Imbalance
In this stage, the body’s ability to handle stress decreases, resulting in a fluctuation in cortisol production. Cortisol production can fluctuate in various ways during these stages, but the commonality is that it is no longer in a normal rhythm. The body is no longer able to produce cortisol in the same way as in a normal or overdrive stage.

At this point, the person begins to experience various symptoms such as heart rhythm disturbances, waking up in the middle of the night, night sweats, thyroid problems, fluctuations in energy levels, digestive problems, slowed recovery, and fatigue. These are the body’s messages that something is wrong. If these messages are ignored and fatigue is masked with caffeine or energy drinks and the same pattern continues, it will inevitably lead to the next stage, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout.

Stage 4 of exhaustion: Burnout
The final stage of exhaustion is known as burnout. At this stage, the situation has become so bad that the body is no longer able to produce enough stress hormones at any time of the day. This leads to deep fatigue, where the person may not even have enough energy to get out of bed at their worst. If the body’s warnings are not listened to in earlier stages, this stage will inevitably come. Recovery from burnout can take years.

How to recover from burnout?
Depending on how severe the situation has become, various measures may be needed to normalize the body’s regulatory systems and return the autonomic nervous system to a state where it can recover. The most important and ultimately the only thing that helps is REST. Nothing can replace rest, as it is ultimately what recharges the body’s batteries. If your phone battery is low and you don’t put it on charge, it can never be fully charged. The same applies to a person: if you try to fix the exhaustion with different measures but don’t invest enough in rest, the exhaustion will not go away.

The more severe the fatigue, the more focus should be on activating the parasympathetic nervous system, mainly through rest but also in other ways.

Activating the parasympathetic nervous system can be done through:

  • Sleeping
  • Meditation
  • Yoga (if it doesn’t raise heart rate)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation
  • Being in nature (if the heart rate doesn’t raise)
  • Receiving energy healing

It’s also important to minimize things that activate the sympathetic nervous system, meaning the things that increase stress levels and therefore drain the body and mind.

The sympathetic nervous system is activated by:

  • Anything that increases heart rate: exercise, cold, heat.
  • Mental stress in all forms: worries, sorrows, fears, and mental pressures.
  • Major life changes: divorce, death of a loved one, moving, changing jobs, job loss.
  • Low blood sugar: If enough calories are not obtained from food and blood sugar drops, stress hormones are activated to produce energy.
  • Stressful foods: When gut health is compromised as a result of chronic stress, various foods can cause hypersensitivity symptoms, such as digestive or abdominal discomfort or skin rash. Common food triggers include milk, grains, sugars, eggs, and nuts. Reducing these from the diet reduces stress load.

When engaging in activities that activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing activities that activate the sympathetic nervous system, the body begins to recover and hormone function is restored.

What can hinder or slow down recovery from fatigue?
There is one factor that can hinder or slow down the recovery process, even if you rest a lot: the autonomic nervous system.

If fatigue has become severe, the autonomic nervous system can be locked in an overactive sympathetic state. It can also be thought that the parasympathetic nervous system is not activated enough, even if you rest a lot.

This is a kind of stress deadlock where the body is left in a “fight or flight” mode due to excessive stress. Just resting may not be enough, as the parasympathetic nervous system may not activate properly despite rest. The body is stuck in emergency mode and can no longer relax.

Even after years of rest and reduced stress, the person may still feel tired and powerless. The body has not recovered from exhaustion, despite efforts to recover. The problem is that the parasympathetic nervous system does not activate properly despite rest. At this point, it is recommended to seek treatment that directly activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so that recovery can be initiated and the chronic stress state can be removed from the path of recovery.

The effect of most natural therapy treatments is based on activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Energy healing therapies are especially effective when performed by experienced therapists who have effective techniques. The Haave-Method contains many different techniques that can effectively activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Depending on the severity of the client’s exhaustion, a series of treatments may be needed, such as a series of 5-10 treatments, in order to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and initiate recovery.

In severe cases, recovery may not start without treatment, especially if the fatigue is due to long stress periods or larger traumatic life events that have locked the body in a state of sympathetic nervous system overactivity.

By combining factors that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing various types of stress, and including direct activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, such as energy healing therapy, it is possible to recover from even severe fatigue.

Want to start helping others right away? The journey starts with the first course, the Physical Body Healing.
Physical body healing

Want to know more? Register into our learning platform for free and get access to more free content. You can sign in for free here. There is also a webinar telling more about us and our journey and what our methods can do and a discount on the first course within that webinar. Highly recommended if you are interested.

If you’re not done reading yet, head over to our blog for more.