There’s no doubt about it, these days, burnout is everywhere: in the workplace, in our personal lives, and even in our leisure activities. 

We’ve all done it – held a match to the candle at both ends until eventually the flame smolders out and we find ourselves depleted. It can creep up on us gradually, often burnout signs go unnoticed until its effects become undeniable. Our passion, motivation, and energy can disappear, leaving us to feel hollowed and exhausted. 

The consequences of burnout extend far beyond the workplace. It's not merely feeling tired after a long day's work; it's an overwhelming state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that permeates every aspect of our lives, seeping into our relationships, our hobbies, and our overall sense of well-being. 

If you’ve arrived at a place of burnout, it can feel like this is just how life is now, and you may never feel like the vibrant version of yourself you once were. But do not get discouraged. Amidst the darkness of burnout, there is hope. The human body is an incredible organism with healing capabilities beyond our mind’s conception. We can harness the medicinal potential of aromatic plants to help guide us back to a state of balance and vitality. If you find yourself deep in the throes of burnout, there is a way forward, illuminated by the healing power of nature.

Burnout Symptoms

If you are experiencing burnout, you likely don’t need me to tell you how it feels, the burnout symptoms are probably all too familiar to you. You might feel exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, and along with that may come poor sleep. Or perhaps you feel completely drained, yet stuck on a spinning wheel that you can’t get off of, going through the motions trying to get everything done. 

There are also some burnout signs showing that you are reaching a tipping point that may be less obvious. Burnout symptoms can also appear as fatigue, dullness, detachment, irritability, sensory and emotional sensitivity, brain fog, headaches, frequent illnesses, changes in appetite, and digestive issues. I do want to caution however, that any of these burnout symptoms can also correlate to an underlying health condition, so always be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner about any symptoms you are experiencing. 

In the pursuit of achievement or attempting to take care of everything going on in our lives, the signs of burnout can go unrecognized. We can become so engrossed in the tasks at hand, that we are disconnected from what is actually happening to our body. We can no longer see ourselves clearly. But if we pause and listen, the innocent and loving body speaks, asking us to slow down. This is your invitation to come back to yourself, notice how you feel, and harness the power of aromatic plants to support your energy and adaptability moving forward.

Burnout and Brain Health

Prolonged stress and burnout symptoms can have detrimental effects on the nervous system, body, and mind. High stress levels can lead to inflammation, oxidative damage, lowered immunity, and even neuronal death, affecting cognitive functioning and overall health. 

Our brain's ability to generate new neurons, or neurogenesis, offers a potential avenue for the brain to recover from structural and functional changes induced by chronic stress. Promoting neurogenesis can support the entire nervous system by repairing damaged or exhausted circuits and revitalizing the intricate network of neural connections within the brain and throughout the body, enhancing the capacity to transmit signals, regulate bodily functions, and adapt to stressors. 

By stimulating neurogenesis with aromatic medicine and other holistic approaches, restoration of cognitive and emotional health can occur, aiding in the recovery from burnout. In addition, incorporating self-care practices such as mindfulness, massage, and proper nutrition can further support the healing process. Building resilience and establishing healthy boundaries in both personal and professional spheres are also vital steps in preventing future burnout. Together, these holistic approaches can pave the way for sustainable well-being and a renewed sense of purpose and vitality.

Unlocking Hidden Potential: Aromatics & Neurogenesis

The human brain is a marvel of complexity and adaptability. Neurogenesis was once believed to be limited to early development stages, but emerging research has challenged this notion. Neurogenesis is said to actually continue throughout adulthood, particularly in two regions: the hippocampus (linked to memory and learning) and the olfactory bulb (related to the sense of smell), providing opportunities for healing and growth. Because of this, aromatic medicine, which focuses on harnessing the healing powers of volatile oils and compounds found inside aromatic plants, can serve as a powerful ally in the possibility of neural regeneration. 

Research into aromatics and neurogenesis is still in the early stages, but scientists have begun exploring how essential oils and plant extracts can support the creation of new neurons. Aromatic compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and phenols possess bioactive properties that can influence neural growth and connectivity. For instance, studies have shown that compounds like alpha-pinene in Pine essential oil and linalool in Lavender oil may support brain health, and certain terpenes in plants such as Rosemary and Frankincense have neuroprotective properties [1]. Aromatic plants can be used in many forms such as natural incense, perfumes, hydrosols, salves, tinctures, essential oils, and many more.

Incorporating Aromatic Medicine into Daily Life & Rejuvenation Practices

Aromatic practices and rituals are integral to the process of harnessing the neuro-regenerative potential of aromatics. These rituals go beyond merely using essential oils; they encompass a holistic approach to nurturing your nervous system and overall well-being. Here, we explore some of the most effective aromatic practices and rituals that can aid in nervous system regeneration:

Aromatic Meditation

In your home, create a serene and cozy atmosphere by dimming the lights and burning incense or using essential oils in a diffuser. Sit quietly in a comfortable position, roll your neck and shoulders out, and then find a place of stillness. As you inhale the calming aromatic scent, bring your full attention to the present moment by engaging completely with your sense of smell. 

Practice this for a few minutes, noticing every minute detail about the aroma: its qualities and layers, and how it travels up your nasal passage and enters into the brain. Pay attention to any thoughts, feelings, or sensations that arise as you follow the smell in and out of your body. Allow yourself to let go. The synergy of aromatherapy and meditation is powerful in helping to reduce stress and promote mental clarity.

Body Restoration

Including aromatics with baths and bodywork can be transformative for your nervous system. Drawing a warm bath infused with aromatic essential oils like Lavender, Vetiver, or Cedar can induce deep relaxation, alleviate muscle tension, and soothe the nervous system. Aromatic oils, when applied in self-massage or with the assistance of a massage therapist, can also have these effects. The combined benefits of touch and aromatics help release stored tension, support neuroregeneration, and improve overall well-being. 

It is important to dilute essential oils before adding them to your bath water to safely incorporate them into your bath routine and avoid skin irritation. You can do this by mixing essential oil in liquid Castile soap or a carrier oil, shaking well, and then adding the mixture to your water. Similarly, be sure to dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before using them topically in massage. For more details, check out our Essential Oil Dilution Guide.

Crafting a Healing Space

Aromatic environments can enhance your connection with nature and cultivate a sense of tranquility. Incorporating aromatic plants, incense, or essential oil diffusers in your living or working environment can positively impact your mood and cognitive function. Consider designing your space with intention, incorporating various elements and plants that resonate with you.

Each of these ideas offers a unique avenue for nervous system regeneration. They engage the senses, encourage mindfulness, and promote emotional well-being, making them valuable tools in your holistic approach to recovery and rejuvenation.

Other Natural Tips for Burnout Symptoms

Licorice Root Tea: The Indian healing system of Ayurveda considers Licorice root to be a rejuvenating herb for the adrenal glands, which controls cortisol, your stress hormone. Try sipping warm Licorice Root tea in the morning or evening to soothe stress and burnout symptoms. It has a sweet taste and pairs well with Mint, Ginger, or Cinnamon. Caution: For those with high blood pressure, Licorice Root has the potential to raise blood pressure. If you experience heart palpitations, Licorice may exacerbate those symptoms. 

Sleep Hygiene: Emphasizing a balanced sleep routine is key for improving energy levels and overall health. In Ayurveda, it is said that after 10 pm we can get the feeling of a “second wind” of energy and want to stay up later, however, this can cause us to feel tired in the morning. To stay in rhythm with nature, it is helpful to sleep before midnight, ideally around or before 10 pm. Sleep is where the body can regenerate, recover, and digest our experiences. Having daily practices such as dimming overhead lights at night, finishing tasks early on, avoiding screens, and not eating dinner too late at night are also ways to improve sleep quality. 

Food and Digestion: Food is medicine. How we eat, how much we eat, and the types of food we consume are critical in maintaining vitality. If the mind and body are under stress, the gut could be impacted. Digestion and our mental and emotional states are often inherent and concurrent. Consider eating lots of vegetables and leafy greens, and avoiding processed foods. Foods that are as close to their natural state as possible provide a wonderful energy source for the body. Also, try to leave at least 4 hours between each meal so that the food has enough time to digest properly, and consider eating meals around the same time each day to promote digestive fire. 

Daily Rhythm: Daily routines, referred to as “Dinacharya” in Ayurveda, can help you to be in a flow, especially if you are following the patterns of nature. If you can anchor at least one or two points in your day, such as lighting incense in the morning and having lunch around the same time each day, it helps to create a sense of grounding. Everything in nature has a specific timing, so it is of extreme value for us to mimic nature and move in a particular rhythm to support our health. Having a daily routine especially helps to regulate digestion and the nervous system, as our body then knows what to expect from us.

Understanding Burnout & Restoring Balance

Recovery from burnout can take time to reverse, as it has taken time to arrive in that space. But anything worthwhile takes a while. Finding balance is the key—an equilibrium between ambition and self-preservation. It's about knowing when to push forward and when to step back, listening to the whispers of our bodies telling us when to slow down.

In the process of rejuvenation, self-compassion is our greatest ally. It's about granting ourselves the grace to rest, to recharge, and to rediscover the spark that once fueled our passions. It's about recognizing our inherent worth not for what we achieve, but simply for who we are.

So let us kindle the flame of self-awareness and self-care, nurturing it with moments of stillness, connection, and joy. For in the gentle glow of self-love, we find the strength to navigate the darkest of nights and emerge resilient and renewed.

Article Written By Dawn Gibson


1. A. Faridzadeh , Y. Salimi, H. Ghasemirad, M. Kargar, A. Rashtchian, G. Mahmoudvand, M. A. Karimi, N. Zerangian,  N. Jahani, A. Masoudi, B. S. Dastjerdi,  M. Salavatizadeh, H. Sadeghsalehi & N. Deravi. (2022). Neuroprotective Potential of Aromatic Herbs: Rosemary, Sage, and Lavender.

© 2024 The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. All rights reserved.

*The statements above have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before you use this information for health purposes.

Follow Us On Social Media