Thank You Jacinda Ardern for Addressing the All-Too-Common Feeling of “Not Enough in the Tank”
And Useful Natural Medicine Approaches for Burnout
I was blown away this week by the humanity and directness of New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s resignation speech. She put in simple terms how she did not have “enough in the tank,” to carry on in her role. Pundits and politicians will examine her decision from every angle, including those that are sexist and misogynistic, but the bottom line is that burnout is real and being self-aware and confident enough to make decision about your own health and your role in your respective work, is brave and inspiring.
I have been a fan of Ms. Arden’s since she took the international stage as a young, progressive candidate, and then again when she gave birth to a daughter during her term. Back here in my own world, working with patients over the last nearly four decades, I can see how burnout is real and it’s not uncommon, yet people push through, much to the detriment of their own vitality, the health of their families, and the causes, jobs, and careers they hold dear.
There was an article in the New York Times a few years back about how the pandemic did something unexpected to a lot of people — it put us in a state of languishing. Sadly, instead of flourishing or being at the peak of well-being let alone thriving, people are feeling joyless, unmotivated, stagnating, and empty. It’s also known as burnout.
There has never been another time in my career when I felt more people under so much stress for longer periods of time. Even before Covid-19 impacted our communities, these last years of constant access to work, social media, the news cycle, and issues of climate and environmental change created a backdrop of vulnerabilities that allowed Covid-19 to unveil or exacerbate imbalances and illnesses across the physical, emotional, and cognitive landscape of many people’s lives.
This made me think about the role of stress — and especially chronic stress — on the health of my patients—both the quality of life and health outcomes. For many people, both those who’ve had Covid-19 and those who haven’t, negative health outcomes from pandemic stress ensues. And when you add grief over loss of…