Power Moves to Turn Burnout Into Elevation

Techniques to not simply avoid burnout, but to grow yourself further

Oh boy, where do we begin. EVERYBODY I know is experiencing some form of burnout.

But what if, and hear me out, we can flip that burnout on its head and actually make some gains?

Power Move #1: Smile Like You Mean It

Burnout is occurring because we’ve been doing the same thing for almost a year now — work from home, avoid people, no indoor hangouts, same routines, same clothes!

If doing the same thing is what’s causing the burnout, I posit all it takes is doing one thing different to “spice” things up. Taking that further, I want to give you advice that doesn’t just stop the burnout, I want to give you advice that elevates you to another level.

When we start something new, we know there is some initial inertia to overcome. Try pushing your cup from the side with your finger. It’s hard at first but once it starts sliding, whoa nelly watch out!

It’s the exact same thing as we disrupt our same old routine. It’ll be hard at first, but once we do, change will come more readily. For example, when it comes to running:

“The first run has nothing to do with pace, nothing to do with distance, nothing to do with duration. It’s about starting it and ending it and wanting to do a next run.” — Chris Bennett, Nike Running Global Head Coach [2]

The key word there is just starting. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

@vagabondhearts

The power move I’d like to introduce is to smile like you mean it. Not fake smile, not just smile because it’s polite, I want you to reeeeeaaaalllly smile. People can tell if your smile is genuine or not, so make it the real deal.

Furthermore, I want you to smile anywhere and everywhere. Turn on your camera during your meetings and smile. Instead of calling friends and family, Facetime them and smile during the call. Heck, smile as you’re standing in line for the vaccine!

Here’s the science that proves smiling is a power move:

  • “A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress.” — NBC News
  • “A study performed by a group at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who could not frown due to botox injections were happier on average than those who could frown.”
  • “Researchers at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress and lower heart rate in tense situations; another study linked smiling to lower blood pressure, while yet another suggests that smiling leads to longevity.”
  • “This is because we have mirror neurons that fire when we see action,” says Dr. Eva Ritzo, a psychiatrist. As its name suggests, mirror neurons enable us to copy or reflect the behavior we observe in others and have been linked to the capacity for empathy.”

Power Move #2: 4 Ways to Automate Your Life

“Any movement requires brain activity, and repeating a movement, even complicated ones, enough times triggers recognizable patterns in your brain regions responsible for motor skills. Thus leading to a learned motion that will require less brainpower in the future.” [6]

I’m happy I’ve been able to instill a lot of good habits into my life, but a few bad ones still sneak their way in. And they have become a sort of muscle and brain memory. For example, I drink water before drinking my coffee. I stretch and meditate most nights before bed. But I also play Clash Royale (I’m level 12!) and scroll the news too much.

During this pandemic where an isolated routine has been allowed to flourish, it’s led to the breeding of bad muscle memory to the point of causing burnout. We can only do the same thing, over and over, so many times!

Our muscles and brains can memorize complex motions to the point it becomes automated. Stands to reason that with the technology at our fingertips, there is more we should automate in our life.

Burnout is happening because everyday is like a wash, rinse, repeat. I say let’s eliminate the need to even wash our hair! (Actually, I literally only wash my hair every 3rd day now!) Here are my current favorite automations that has eliminated manual work:

@idoitmyself.be
  • Automate Your House — I’ve been using a Roomba for over 5 years now. When I was away all day, the program would run and I’d empty the dustbin when I get home. Now that I’m WFH, I manually turn it on before heading out. I get heart eye emoji seeing the groomed carpet trails. #commission
  • Automate Your Inbox — Well, sorta. Try the app Unroll.Me. It scans your inbox, and then presents each subscription for you to swipe left, up, or down. It’s like the Tinder dating app but for your subscription emails!
  • Automate Your Nuts — We all know about Amazon’s Subscribe & Save delivery service. Similarly, I’ll suggest getting good nuts from, well, nuts.com. They have every nut you can think of, tons of trail mixes, superfood powders, dried fruits, and baking essentials. Free shipping, 5% off, set it & forget. #commission
  • Automate Your Finances — Ok, here’s the ultimate leap of faith — use Mint.com to categorize and track your spending and saving goals. You’ll need to punch in all your financial account info, but once it’s setup, every time you login to Mint, it’ll refresh with your latest info. Create budget goals, study your spending trends, and catch odd spending.

Power Move #3: Give Yourself Permission to Do This

One of my absolute favorite things to do is taking a day off from my day job to spend time on my own personal projects. Hence, I’m writing this after having just taken a day off to take it easy.

I woke up just as early, spent it outside sitting on my patio writing for Venture Out (passion project!), watched Zach Snyder’s Justice League (4 hour long movie!) with the blinds pulled down and plenty of snacks, and then mountain biking in a wildlife preserve exploring a new trail. Been a long time since I’ve given myself permission to just indulge, guilt-free.

Burnout is happening to each of us, in our own way. Perhaps it’s being stuck at home with the kids all day, the inability to take pleasure in visiting our coffee shops, or missing out on getting sweating in the gym.

The power move is to turn burnout into an elevating experience. Take your worn out, frustrated self, and force yourself to an EASY day.

“The first run has nothing to do with pace, nothing to do with distance, nothing to do with duration. It’s about starting it and ending it and wanting to do a next run.” — Chris Bennett, Nike Running Global Head Coach [2]

@nikewomen

If an easy run should have nothing to do with, “pace, distance, or duration,” then an EASY day should have everything to do with, “recognizing yourself, feeling of total control, autonomy, and clarity on what is important.”

“We can sometimes forget that great running is dependent first and foremost on great recovery.” [3]

The keyword is recovery. With burnout, we’ve been running hard every day at work and at home, and add to that an inability to enjoy the pleasures of life because of the pandemic. The need to recover is still there, but we may be overlooking it because we haven’t built it into our life properly.

“Research backs up the case for the Easy Run: One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that runners’ performance improved more when they incorporated very relaxed-pace runs — you might even call them “junk miles” — compared with when they performed more training at a higher intensity — near lactate threshold — over five months.” [3]

Make the power move by taking an EASY day to do something you want (recognition & clarity) and when you want to (total control & autonomy). Mine was a 4 hour superhero movie & bike ride. What’s yours?

Power Move #4: Ask Yourself 3 Questions

Primarily informed by the Headspace App and Andy Puddicombe’s teachings, I’ve been meditating for several years and have arrived at these 3 powerful questions. I ask them during every session and their purpose is to bring awareness and to bring myself into the present moment.

  1. What is one word that describes how my physical body is feeling?
  2. What is one word that describes my emotional state?
  3. What is one word that describes how I feel connected to others?
Nike Training App

There are no right or wrong answers! The point of the exercise is to be aware and in the moment.

“I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary. And yet, we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.” — Headspace @AndyPuddicombe on NPR [11]

DIG DEEPER

“If you want to have a long career, you want to be injury-free. So I would say the most important thing is: do you have balance? Is your strength equal left to right? Are there any asymmetries that, if you start increasing the mileage, will creep up the chain and become issues? Let’s say one big toe is not as flexible as the other. Suddenly your foot starts to roll in, now your knee’s hurting, now your hip’s out of place… it becomes a whole trail of problems.” — Coach Bennet, Nike Running Head Coach [5]

To me, burnout is when your body and mind is out of balance. Use Bennet’s advice to check-in with yourself and ensure you’re balanced. Not work-life balance, rather mental-life balanced.


Ready To Level-Up?

If you want to have a better chance of achieving your goals, then check out my Epic Life Planning with a free downloadable tool. No catch, no gimmicks, just a step-by-step guide to help you obtain your unobtainium.


REFERENCES:

  1. How To Fall In Love With Running
  2. How to Start Running
  3. Running Easy Makes Hard Running Feel Way Easier — Here’s How
  4. Thinking About the Next Marathon? This Virtual Coach Will Help You Train by Liana Satenstein
  5. Ultimate running tips from Nike’s elite running coach by Jamie Millar
  6. Muscle Memory: What is it & How to Use it by Anthony O’Reilly
  7. Muscle memory is real, but it’s probably not what you think by Sara Chodosh
  8. Smiling can trick your brain into happiness — and boost your health By Nicole Spector
  9. Help Guide: Burnout Prevention and Treatment
  10. What Covid-19 Has Done to Our Well-Being, in 12 Charts by Macaulay Campbell and Gretchen Gavett
  11. TED Radio Hour: Andy Puddicombe: Why Should We Meditate?

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