Three Tools for
Battling Burnout

Each of these techniques is free, they are easily learned, they don’t take a ton of practice, they don’t take particular skill and it’s a beautiful thing to know that we can do things to feed ourselves…

By Dr. Elizabeth Sierakowski, MD, DABFM, DABoIM

Introduction

Hello Everyone,

This is Dr. Eliabeth Sierakowski. 

I am a double boarded Family practice and Integrative Medicine MD, also trained in functional medicine. I own and operate Essential Health and Wellness, a clinic in North Raleigh.  

I specialize in women’s health care, burnout, detoxification, auto-immune type disease, root-cause analysis.  I can help through consultations and have a small primary care panel as well. 

Most importantly is to start by understanding that we are in fact a renewable resource, we are not a burnt-out car by the side of the road from which there is no recovery.

- Dr. Elizabeth Sierakowski

Understanding Burnout

(0:33) I’m going to teach you three tools for battling burnout. 

Most importantly is to start by understanding that we are in fact a renewable resource, we are not a burnt-out car by the side of the road from which there is no recovery.  This is more a sense of overheating or fatigue from which we can heal and recover, but it’s very important to understand that the root cause of this is giving more than we have to give. There is a tipping point there. 

(1:00)We have to understand what fills the cup, what helps us feel nourished, what is true self-care and that it doesn’t have to be split 50-50 even.  It doesn’t have to be giving up aspects of your life. 

It is simply an awareness. What gives you wholeheartedness to carry on and do what is most important to you all day every day?  

We have to understand that it is important to be able to identify what is a need and what is a want so that we can put the needs of ourselves before the wants of others, especially as women and mothers.

So the three tools we’re going to talk about today are 4-7-8 breathing, the meta meditation, and the Kirtan Kriya.

We have to understand that it is important to be able to identify what is a need and what is a want so that we can put the needs of ourselves before the wants of others, especially as women and mothers.

- Dr. Elizabeth Sierakowski

4-7-8 Breathing

(1:45) 4-7-8 Breathing – I call this the Anytime, Anywhere. 

It was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and is based on breathing techniques that are thousands of years old. This one is proven that if you do it four rounds, twice a day, for six weeks to be more effective than Xanax for dealing with anxiety. Phenomenal technique!  

Sometimes things that are very simple, when done with regularity help to retrain that vagus nerve in our brain and just like all cranial nerves, exits and is the only cranial nerve that crosses through the diaphragm, touches every organ in the body.  There are whole theories about polyvagal theory and other things – it helps to balance that fight or flight, sympathetic, “on” drive with rest and digest, parasympathetic peace drive.

So 4-7-8, all we are going to do is breathe in through the nose for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, and exhale for the count of 8. Then repeat that a few times. Let’s do it once together.

(2:45) Breathing technique example

That’s what we’re looking for. Really expand with that inhale of four, hold that base for the count of 7, and really squeeze those lungs, pull that diaphragm up to the chest for the count of 8 to create that vacuum and then repeat that cycle.

You can do it at peace, at nighttime, in the morning in the shower, in the car, in line at the grocery store. Anytime anywhere. Best done often.

Metta-Meditation

(3:33) The second technique is called metta-meditation or Loving Kindness or Goodwill. 

This has roots in Buddhism and ultimately is a series of phrases that you start with yourself. You cannot have loving-kindness and goodwill for others if you do not actually start with yourself. That’s a hard lesson for us to learn sometimes. 

The series of phrases that you use can be modified, but the classic is:

May I be safe

May I be happy

May I be healthy and strong

May I live with ease

Say each phrase about yourself until you really feel it and then you move onto the next phrase, then you move on, which is often easier, to someone you love and care about. You move on then to someone you are neutral about, a neighbor, someone you’ve met on the bus, someone you don’t know. Move onto someone you’re having a challenge with. 

For children, this is great to do with them especially at nighttime to kind of decompress for the day. It helps bullying, hard teachers, someone they don’t understand.

For us as adults sometimes it’s political, sometimes it’s other cultures we don’t understand. And then you move onto all beings everywhere. May all beings everywhere be safe, be happy, be healthy and strong, live with ease. That’s a beautiful one!

Kritan Kriya

(5:01) The final one is the Kritan Kriya. 

This is very metaphysical. It’s done in a quiet space, maybe not with other people, unless everyone’s on board with doing the same thing. 

This can take as short or as long as you’d like, but at a minimum, you’re going to be singing four sounds that represent the cycle of life: infinity, life, death, and rebirth. Which is beautiful and very applicable to the HER Health Collective. You’ll pair that song with a mudra or hand position. 

The four sounds are Sa – Ta- Na- Ma.

Typically your hands are going to be down in that cross-legged yoga position. 

You’ll sing for a period of time first, whisper for the same period of time, bring it down into silence but continue the mudras and just sit with the energy and those sounds and then do the same in reverse, the same amount of silence again, whisper, to sing.

(6:03) singing

Ultimately that can take as long or as short as you want, but it’s deeply powerful, deeply healing. 

Profound research is happening now about how that particular meditation with foundations in Kundalini yoga actually regrow parts of the brain, specifically the posterior cingulate gyrus which has profound implications in Alzheimers and dementia right now.

Each of these techniques is free, they are easily learned, they don’t take a ton of practice, they don’t take particular skill and it’s a beautiful thing to know that we can do things to feed ourselves, but ultimately I’ll leave you with this: what fills your cup? What helps you feel whole-hearted?

I hope that you are well. I hope that you find balance and connection. I look forward to meeting each of you.

As physician and owner in the North Raleigh office of Essential Health and Wellness, Dr. Elizabeth
Sierakowski is committed to the pursuit of excellence in care and an atmosphere of warmth. Trained in
the trifecta of Family Medicine, Integrative medicine, and Functional medicine she helps patients
achieve whole and lasting wellness through optimization of the body and integration of the mind and spirit.

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