Guest blog written by Leena Rapanen from Népra Crew
Burnout, exhaustion, overload, you probably know it and can name it. In Finland, we have a saying that "a dear child has many names" but this child, despite its many names, is not really dear. Exhaustion is rarely a matter of "just tiredness", but often also involves physical and/or mental symptoms, such as pain, aches, sleep difficulties, impaired memory and concentration and, for example, depression or anxiety symptoms. I myself have experience with the whole spectrum. The state of burnout is almost never simply explainable but according to my experience, there are typically several factors which have driven a person to the end without realizing it. For those who are active and train goal-oriented, overload may first appear as training challenges, and it is good to learn to recognize and react to the symptoms of overload as early as possible.
Active people who train hard may often observe their own load and recovery closely, but only from a physical point of view. You can schedule your week well in advance; All the restorative workouts as well as the harder exercises can be marked in the calendar, the diet polished to its peak and not to mention the sleep, which is always a priority. Weekend parties are left uncelebrated in order to have time to train in the coming week. The weekly rhythm and planned workouts are adhered to, even if everyday life is busy and the classes seem to end in the middle of the day. We may forget that we are burdened by a huge number of other things in everyday life than physical work. In normal everyday life, our capacity is eaten not only by work and exercise, but also by, for example, social relationships, daily tasks and other hobbies, but also by the prevailing world situation, the news and the flood of information and constant availability. In addition, life inevitably also includes unexpected, mentally burdening, resource-consuming situations, such as sickness of a loved one, negotiations at work, financial stress or even the end of a long relationship. So that our body and mind do not drift into an overloaded state, everyday life should always be observed as a whole, full of fysical and psychological factors, and you should always plan your schedule based on your overall load.
Both mental and physical capacity and everyone's own personal resources should be taken into account when thinking of the overall load. While someone may have a physically demanding job, someone else's job is cognitively or socially taxing. In addition, our resources are also affected by our character and temperament. For example, social encounters can be a relaxing for one, but stressful and exhausting for the other. One person needs a lot of time in their everyday life in their own circumstances, without distractions, while someone else needs noise and bustle around them to recover. Everyone's resources are individual and can also vary in different situations in life. In general, what works for one person may not work for another.
Short-term stress is a part of life, and it does not cause us major challenges. Instead, it gives us a boost when needed and might even improve our concentration and help us perform better. When stress is prolonged or occurs simultaneously in several areas of life, problems can begin to appear. At this stage, a person who exercises goal-oriented may experience various recovery challenges, such as longer-lasting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) symptoms, new types of pain in the musculoskeletal system, training faltering, slowing down of development or complete exhaustion, training may no longer taste as good, it frustrates or after that, you no longer feel euphoric and mentally restored. Often at this point we wonder what we have done wrong in our training when we feel like this, but we still keep training as hard as we can. This stage, you probably don't even know what else is going on in your life and how it affects your physical performance.
So how do you recognize that the training is balanced and the load is suitable? In short, I feel that the load is balanced if the active person is healthy, feels energetic during the day, sleeps well, the food tastes good, and there is noticeable improvement in training. In addition training generally gives more energy and a good feeling, everyday life is pain-free and the mind is vital.
How could you prevent overload and create a whole that suits you? Anticipate, listen to your body's messages, react with a low threshold and, if necessary, turn to a professional. Reflect honestly on your own resources in relation to the amount of load and try to make sure that there is always "spare capacity" for unexpected turns in life. If you constantly use 100% of your own resources in basic everyday life, even a slight bend in the journey can turn the boat around and collapse the whole house of cards. Remember to take care of not only the recovery of the body but also the recovery of the mind and not to compare yourself to others. The same methods of recovery do not work for everyone, so take the time to find the methods that work for you. Let's do things in ways that suit our everyday life, life situation and goals - flexibly and sensibly.
I wish everyone healthy training days, fun workouts and an energetic everyday life!
P.S. The writing is based on my own experiences of burnout and exhaustion, the professional skills provided by my education, and my experiences in client work with both active exercisers and professional athletes. If you doubt your own ability to cope and your workload, I always warmly recommend you to see a professional - whether it's an experienced trainer, a musculoskeletal specialist, a therapist, a psychological coach or a doctor.
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