Beat that Burnout

KBB_batteriesSome recent medical issues of mine caused me to rethink a lot of the way I work and how I handle stress. In other words, I needed to recharge my batteries.

In a world where we seem to judge each other in terms of the hours we put into a project, I think we’ve created a work culture that promotes working longer hours for fewer, less rewarding outcomes. As a society we’re stressed out, less focused and worst of all, less satisfied. At least, I know I was. This leads to what I like to call burnout.

The problem with living in that kind of work culture is that we self-perpetuate the myth that if we just work longer and harder we’ll be more rewarded. What exactly are we awarding ourselves with if we’re tired and stressed out all the time? When did money and job titles becoming more important than sleeping? Sitting down to a meal with your family? Getting exercise?

Obviously, feeling burned out is sometimes unavoidable- major life events, seasonal extracurricular and work activities, personal crises – these are natural occurrences in the ebb and flow of life. It’s still okay to feel inadequate, or ill-equipped during these experiences. What’s most important is taking care of yourself, and harnessing the help of others around you during this time.

One of the solutions I have discovered that has been one of the most surprisingly beneficial to my own issues has been communication. No one should have to suffer alone. You’d be amazed to discover how many people are willing to offer their help or support during your time of difficulty. At the very least they are better able to understand your absence, lack of focus, or your appearance of disinterest. Professionally speaking, you may want to share this information with a select few at your workplace depending on the nature of your issue.

If you protect yourself by seeking the help you need early enough, you may be able to delegate certain projects to co-workers, or delay certain deadlines. Sympathetic bosses may offer opportunities for cut-backs or short-cuts. Take these when are you are able. Your responsibility at this time should be to yourself.

Personally speaking, learn when to say no to social commitments and be select about the personal projects you take on. Give your time and attention to the things that are of immediate priority- personal hygiene, adequate sleep, eating nutritionally, getting enough exercise and giving yourself the mental space to breathe and recuperate. You may want to check in with your doctor at this time to make sure there are no medical issues that could contribute to your stress, or level of burnout. Vitamin deficiencies, sleeping disorders or thyroid issues could all lead towards feelings of malaise. Keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water can also help, as well as taking a multi-vitamin if your diet requires.

Type A people like myself will argue that they are superhuman and can do anything; most of us can if we put our minds to it. But our first responsibility is to ourselves, and to our own personal well-being. Learning how manage that in a crisis is the first step to empowering ourselves to work smarter instead of harder, and enjoying the benefits of a happy and fulfilling life, no matter what the world throws at us.

KBwB-BFlower-50What’s your best advice on dealing with a crisis? Is there something that’s worked for you in the past? Sharing is caring and I’d love for you to share yours below, or with me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com so that I might share them in a future post. No one should have to suffer through a crisis alone! We’re all here to help.

If you’re looking for more ways to find some balance in your life, I’m trying to figure it all out too here.

Wrap Your Head Around This!

KBB_peacock_mug

Up until recently it was widely accepted that the adult brain no longer generated new brain cells. The rapid death of brain cells was part of the natural aging process.

In actuality, this is only partially true. The scientific community now believes that the brain actually produces up to 1,000 new brain cells every single day that die if they are not used- 1,000 brain cells we can put towards mastering a new skill, learning a new language, or memorizing a new information. Just kaput. Bye-bye. Every. Single. Day.

This is exciting information to me because it means that learning is still a life-long process and that we as humans have the capacity to expand our brains by putting them to use and take advantage of those new brain cells that we generate on a daily basis.

Improving your brain health has longed been linked to long-term health benefits such as the prevention of devastating diseases that affect the brain and nervous system, and has been linked to greater well-being overall. I’m no scientist, and I could probably cite hundreds of articles listing the benefits of keeping your brain in tip-top shape, but my own personal experience with trying to keep my mind engaged is proof enough to me that taking care of your brain is a practice that can lead to stress reduction, improved memory, increased energy and results in a much happier, more balanced me. Who could argue with something like that?

I’ve been reading up on better brain health (call me a neuroscience nerd) and a lot of the solutions seem to be common sense to our overall well-being. A balanced diet and regular exercise all contribute to better brain health (and some argue can reduce the effects of certain mental and anxiety-related illnesses caused by chemical disorders). But keeping your mind engaged by utilizing these new brain cells we grow everyday seem to be the key for improving your brain’s elasticity in both short and long-term situations.

Environmental and social factors also play a big role in our physical and mental health. Smoking, lack of sleep and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to poor brain health.

Brain health advocates recommend taking up fun hobbies and pastimes. Activities that require expanding on or learning new skills force your brain to work harder, and putting yourself in new social situations encourages the brain to make more connections, process more information and store more memories.

Reading, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other fun puzzles and games are also widely touted as helping to improve memory and learning over time, and certain smartphone apps supposedly encourage activity in all areas of the brain with specially designed brain games.

There are so many ways that we constantly put our bodies (and subsequently) our brains under stress that it’s little wonder we get sick so often despite the advances in health care. In an age where it seems technology has solved all of our problems for us, we’re at risk for becoming lazy, dispassionate people too distracted by modern comforts to engage in a life that can be rich and challenging. Our brains are the only ones in the animal kingdom that have the capacity to create that kind of consciousness, and it’s something of which we do not take enough advantage.

Let’s make that change today. Learn Italian. Go back to school. Read a book. Play a game. Grow your brain.

You are totally worth it!

KBwB-Flower-50

Skeptical about brain games? I’m not paid or perked to write about them but I still like playing them, even if they don’t transform my brain as dramatically as their advertising claims. To brush up on the brain game controversy, click here.

What’s your favourite way to train your brain? I’m not so good at sending and receiving psychic messages yet, so comment below or shoot me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. Want some more ways to keep your brain busy? I always love me a good organizing project. You can find a list of them here.