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9 out of 10 Brits live their life on autopilot

How to notice if you're approaching burnout

Millions of Brits are spending large chunks of their day on autopilot – because they are living a Groundhog Day existence, a study has found.

Doing the same things day-in, day-out means 94% regularly drift through their lives automatically without any real thought on what they are doing. Four in ten always end up grabbing the same breakfast and lunch, while a disturbing one in two adults even travel to and from work with no recollection of their journey.

The study, by vitamin expert Solgar, found many also check through emails without really taking them in and even exercise on autopilot. This state impacts performance and productivity at work, with 71% claiming to have days where they carry out their job without really giving it much thought.

And 82% believe their monotonous lifestyle leaves them feeling unchallenged, while others say it makes them feel tired, lacking in energy and often in a low mood.

Author and TV doctor Dr Ellie Cannon, who commissioned the survey with Solgar said: “Busy lifestyles and routines can often make us feel like we are living a little like zombies. As we try to deal with everything that life throws at us, we switch our handling to autopilot, but we don’t fully understand how much stress we are putting ourselves under.

“Signs of stress can show up as anxiety or restlessness, but stress can also manifest itself physically in symptoms such as lack of sleep, feeling achy or tense, or having low immunity and being susceptible to coughs and colds.

“To counter these symptoms, it’s important to take a good look at every aspect of our lives periodically and switch things up. Changes that jolt our minds and bodies out of autopilot will not only make us feel mentally fitter but also physically fitter.

“It’s vital to eat well and exercise regularly, but also to switch the daily routine. Simple things like taking a slightly different route to work or trying a new exercise class, a new recipe, or simply spending lunchtime in the park rather than at your desk a couple of times a week could be enough to shake yourself out of autopilot.

“Busy lifestyles mean that it’s not always easy to get the right nutrients in our daily diets. We all know the kinds of food we should be eating but it’s not always easy to do the right thing. However, there are also a number of supplements that can help.

“For instance, B vitamins can help to maintain energy and vitamin C and zinc can help to boost immunity.”

The study of 2000 adults, found that 94% regularly function on autopilot four times a week – for two hours and 40 minutes on each of those days. That amounts to 10 hours and 40 minutes a week – or 23 days a year – in a ‘mindless’ state – doing the same things day in and day out.

Over the average adult lifetime, this means the equivalent of four years is spent doing things without any real thought or concentration. But more than half blamed the fact they repeat the same actions so often for their autopilot actions, as they no longer need to give it a real thought.

Others say they do things on autopilot because they are stuck in the same old routine or feel tired and lethargic. 85% even said they have days where they feel like they haven’t done anything differently to the day before.

But more than eight in 10 think doing the same thing day in and day saps your energy, while nine in 10 struggle to feel energised and motivated by their monotonous routine.

Paul Chamberlain, Head of Nutrition and Education at Solgar vitamins said: “Getting out of a mindless autopilot lifestyle, and the low moods and tiredness that come with it, is important, and can be tackled by periodically reviewing our ingrained habits and switching things up a bit – particularly in regards to exercise and a healthy diet, and backing up a healthy lifestyle with supplements.”

Here are Paul’s top supplement recommendations to beat other autopilot symptoms.

Poor diet. A quarter of Brits admit to having the same breakfast or lunch every day, which could mean they are missing out on essential nutrients that come from a wide and varied diet.

Recommendation: For additional support, try taking a multivitamin supplement, which can provide the essential vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health. If you are feeling sluggish, try to eat more fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables; taking a probiotic supplement may also help improve digestion.

Low energy. A quarter of Brits regularly struggle to feel energised and motivated. More than 80% think their energy is sapped by doing the same thing day every day, yet they are caught in a vicious circle, as a third are more likely to go through life on autopilot when feeling tired or lacking in energy.

Recommendation: B vitamins have been shown to help boost energy, so try taking a B complex supplement. If you are experiencing long periods of low energy, speak to your GP, who may recommend a blood test. One common cause of low energy is iron deficiency (detected by a blood test), and so sometimes iron supplements can help.

Lack of focus. More than 90% of Brits find they have days where they do things on autopilot and don’t even realise they are doing it. More than a third of Brits find it difficult to break out of their autopilot mood, and half regularly admit to switching off at work.

Recommendation: If you are struggling to engage, fish oils may help, as studies have shown they can help to improve concentration and boost brainpower.