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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Toler

How Internalized Capitalism Causes Adrenal Fatigue, aka "Burnout"

Do you feel like no matter how hard you work, it's never enough??? Are you feeling burnt out, exhausted, and on a non-stop cycle of fatigue + caffeine + work & repeat? Maybe, like me, you've even been diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue. The good news is you can heal it, just like I did.

Let's talk about internalized capitalism and how it's affecting the lives of most Americans today.

Burnout occurs when an individual is constantly pushing themselves beyond what they can realistically achieve without taking time for rest or self-care. This often manifests as feelings of depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, exhaustion and lack of motivation. Burnout can also have serious consequences on one's health due to its effects on heart rate, metabolism, sleep patterns, and hormones. As individuals continue to pursue these unattainable goals in order to fulfill capitalist ideals, the more likely they are to experience long-term burnout.

Many people feel immense pressure from a culture that exalts appearance above all else; this often leads them down a path towards perfectionism that leads only towards further disappointment and psychological distress when they fail to meet those impossible standards. A big part of my personal experience with adrenal fatigue was not just the constant striving when it came to my career, but also the extreme training and workouts I was doing to try and look a certain way.

I’m talking about this today because like I just mentioned, I’ve personally experienced it. It wasn’t until I started having chronic symptoms, as well as mental and physical exhaustion, that I finally sought help and was clinically diagnosed with “adrenal fatigue” after completing a hormone panel that showed my circulating cortisol levels were pretty much on empty. Cortisol is a hormone that we often hear and associate with stress but is actually responsible for keeping us awake during the day. It’s part of our circadian rhythm.

The stress caused by internalized capitalism can occur at any stage of life, but is particularly common among high-achievers who are surrounded by friends, family, and coworkers who have also embraced it. We face so much social pressure to fit in with what is seen as “successful”. And as we try to measure up to these standards, we become overwhelmed and experience burnout from the constant striving for success.

Another common symptom of internalized capitalism is an inability to take time off from work or other obligations even when there is a need for rest. People may feel guilty about taking breaks because they fear that it will make them appear lazy or unmotivated; this guilt can lead them to push themselves beyond their limits which only serves to worsen the exhaustion.

People become so identified with their “output” that they can even struggle with feelings of worthlessness if they are not consistently achieving something. I’ve seen clients who are clearly struggling with adrenal fatigue, whose bodies are crying out to them for rest, who feel guilty for “laying around”. They think this makes them lazy when in reality, their bodies have been under such stress for so long, that what they really need is a few weeks of doing absolutely nothing. Taking a sleep vacation would serve them well. Unfortunately, for many people, the cycle of exhaustion and drinking coffee to overcome it has to get so severe that it actually becomes debilitating.

This feeling of guilt can even be coupled with feelings of envy towards those who appear more successful. This drives further ambition but it also creates a sense that no matter how much one achieves there will always be someone else doing better than them. This cycle leads to increased stress levels and even greater exhaustion which, like I’ve said, ultimately brings on burnout.

Overall, internalized capitalism can cause significant mental health problems if left unchecked. It is important that we are aware and can recognize when our behavior is being driven by external pressure rather than our own genuine interests and the promptings of our souls, so that we can better manage our responsibilities without sacrificing well-being in pursuit of success.

Taking regular breaks, setting realistic goals and allowing yourself time away from work can all help to reduce the risk of burnout. Also, taking time out for restorative activities like meditation or yoga can help prevent burnout caused by internalized capitalism by giving the body much needed rest from incessant striving.

Seeking professional help when needed can also be beneficial in helping navigate the pressures of living under capitalist societies while still maintaining good mental health. There is also a lot you can do with diet, supplements, and lifestyle shifts to heal adrenal fatigue, if you’ve reached that point already.

If you're ready to get a handle on your burnout and improve your health, fill out the quick form for a free 30 minute discovery call here: If you'd like to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, scroll to the bottom of the page and join my email list here:

Until next time, infinite blessings to all of you! Namaste

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