Stress Symptoms To Look Out For To Avoid Burnout


Most of us experience stress at some point in our lives. In the modern world we live in, many people are feeling that life has become increasingly high pressured and stressful.  As we try to juggle everything successfully – career, family, spouses, children, finances, cooking, cleaning and hobbies – not to mention the “in-between” things, like commuting and being stuck in traffic, which can all add to our overall stress levels.



It’s difficult to be healthy all of the time when we find ourselves under a mountain of stress. Then when you feel stressed you’re less likely to keep up a healthy eating regime and consistent exercise and they end up falling to the bottom of the priorities list. Poor nutrition, a lack of sleep and bad eating habits only makes stress worse rather than better.


Most of us know that this can have a negative impact on many aspects of our health.  Extreme stress can be an important factor in the vast majority of illnesses.  Scientists now know that stress can suppress immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase the risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes and even impair memory.



We also all know that stress affects everyone differently. Some people thrive in times of stress, whilst others just fall to pieces.  Burnout is defined as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.  The symptoms of burnout can include chronic fatigue, insomnia, lack of focus, increased irritability, and more.  The good news is, there are many simple practices and dietary changes you can put in place immediately, to prevent burnout from becoming full blown.


Of course, not getting stressed in the first place, or regularly practicing stress-management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, instead of coping with stress by overeating, will help reduce cortisol levels and manage stress. Here I’ll focus on the nutritional aspect and how certain foods can help counteract the long-term harmful effects that chronic stress has on our bodies by providing vital nutrients used to repair and protect against the damage stress can cause.



Obviously, entirely avoiding the high-fat, high-sugar foods we are drawn to in times of stress will help prevent exacerbate the harmful effects of stress.  Sugar laden foods and drinks might provide a “quick fix” when you’re feeling stressed, but they’ll just leave you feeling exhausted, moody and even less resilient to deal with the everyday stresses of life. Perhaps even more important than what you choose to exclude, are the foods you choose to include.



What are these “stress-busting” foods you should be eating, and how do they work?

Prolonged stress can lead to exhaustion of the adrenal glands.  This set of glands, situated on top of your kidneys, play a critical role in helping us deal with stress.  They also play a key role in regulating weight, mood and energy.  Adrenal exhaustion can be prevented by incorporating the right foods into your diet, ensuring you stay topped-up on the essential nutrients needed for optimal adrenal function and their vital hormone production.


These are the best foods to ease stress and help counteract the damage that chronic stress does to our bodies:


Complex Carbohydrates

All carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin, the same relaxing brain chemical released when you eat chocolate. For a steady supply of this feel-good hormone without the weight gain, stick to eating complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole-grain breads, and whole-wheat or brown rice pasta, as well as good old-fashioned porridge oats.  These have a high fibre content, meaning they are digested slowly, and therefore keep you fuller for longer.  Complex carbohydrates will also help stabilise blood sugar levels and further ensure you feel sustained and satisfied for longer, by avoiding those “dips” you get shortly after eating refined carbs.
Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge we get for comforting carbohydrates and sweets when we are under a great deal of pressure.  They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and again, the fiber content helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner, keeping you fuller for longer.

As is well known, the magic nutrient here is vitamin C. A German study in the journal Psychopharmacology, found that Vitamin C helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol back to normal levels following a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well-known for strengthening the immune system. Next time you’re feeling stressed out about something, reach for Plenish’s CALM, KICK, or PUMP drinks – all are loaded with Vitamin C as well as a wealth of nutritional goodness.


Spinach and dark leafy greens

Spinach – what doesn’t it contain?  This wonder-leaf is full of nutrients. It’s even a great source of protein, contains plenty of magnesium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6.  It also contains vitamin E, zinc, dietary fibre, copper and phosphorus.  In short, that all means: immune boosting, bone strengthening, vision-improving, blood circulation-enhancing goodness, and much more!


In terms of stress nutrition, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach are a rich source of magnesium. Too little magnesium can trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. One cup of spinach provides 40% of your daily intake, so try substituting it for lettuce in salads and on sandwiches to replenish your magnesium stores.  An even easier, far more effective way to “get your greens” is to consume one of the many Plenish green juices that are chock-full of green goodness.  LIFT, FUEL and BOOST will all ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes in consuming your greens. They’re impressively low in sugar and high in veggies, so you can consume them guilt free and let your stresses melt away.

Discover the way way to hit your 10 a day here.



Almonds are not only delicious, but also packed full of B vitamins, which make you more resilient during bouts of stress, and vitamin E, which helps bolster your immune system.  To get the optimum benefits, snack on about 20 almonds every day.  Another way to get your fix is to upgrade your milk options with almond milk.  Plenish’s ALMOND M*LK is not only the highest nut percentage on the market, it’s the most impressive nutritionally.  With just three simple ingredients and no additives, preservatives or sweeteners, it’s bursting with nutritional organic goodness. Its high nut content, makes it chock full of stress-busting nutrients.  It’s a natural source of Vitamin E, the powerful antioxidant mentioned, and protein, which maintains healthy muscles and bones.

Check out these easily accessible sources of plant protein.


Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains two compounds that can lower stress levels – anandamide, which binds to receptors in the brain that produce feelings of euphoria, and phenylethylamine (PEA), a substance naturally found in our nervous systems that is released throughout the brain when we “fall in love”.  The Plenish SAVOUR drink is the ideal way to get your chocolatey fix without any nasties. It satisfies your sweet tooth while helping your cells function optimally with elements like iron and magnesium, both essential during times of stress. This is the perfect drink for a dose of feel-good compounds, as well as protein, which helps maintain healthy bones and muscles, essential to keep you string during stressful times. A good addition as part of a healthy diet, which won’t compromise your weight either.

For more on the benefits of cacao, click here.



Avoiding burnout starts by putting both dietary and lifestyle changes in place. It can sometimes be difficult to navigate yourself – getting support and setting clear action steps can help you implement these simple practices with greater ease.  In the meantime, PLENISH drinks are definitely the place to start to getting your nutrition on point.



Written By: Dr. Michelle Braude, founder of The Food Effect,

Instagram and Twitter:  @TheFoodEffectDR  

Pre-order The Food Effect Diet book from amazon here, in shops from December.


Dr. Michelle Braude, MBBS, BSc Nutrition

Founder: The Food Effect


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