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The surprising benefits of being a person who burns out easily

The surprising benefits of being a person who burns out easily

All work and no play? With stress levels at an all time high, many of us have experienced the devastating effects of burning out. Burnout can crop up in a variety of different forms and it isn’t pretty when it strikes.

When you’re burned out you might feel high levels of stress and anxiety, have low energy and be exhausted, and feel like there’s “never enough time.” You may have increased negative feelings, feel overwhelmed, be irritable, and lack motivation. In severe situations you may even stop taking care of yourself, have trouble focusing, and experience a range of health issues.

But the good news is the exact traits that make you likely to burnout can actually be incredible assets…so long as you keep them in check.

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Learning to harness these strengths without overdoing it is the key to success, or what I like to call leaning in without burning out.

In the 1980s, Dr. Herbert Freudenberger was the first person to describe the syndrome known as burnout. Through his years of work with high-achieving patients, he uncovered the type of person most likely to burnout.

Here are the 4 traits common among those that suffer from burnout.

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1. You’re a goal focused overachiever.

Once you set a goal you’re tenacious about achieving it and nothing can get in your way. You’re capable of moving mountains when you’re focused and have your goal in sight.

2. You can always be counted on to do more than your fair share, no matter how busy you are.

You’re a team player, always thinking about what you can give and how you can help out. No matter how jam packed your schedule is, you always do your part and sometimes even fill in for others.

3. You’re a leader who has a hard time admitting limitations.

You’re effective at rallying the troops, and getting people to see that there is a way and that there is always hope. You rarely think of any challenges as insurmountable, and believe with enough effort you can do whatever you put your mind to.

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4. You push yourself hard and get results.

You know how to keep your eye on the prize and realize that hard work and dedication is required to accomplish anything meaningful.

In order to maximize your strengths and the enormous benefits of being an overachiever vulnerable to burnout, you’ll want to practice these 3 proven methods to add some space into your life and routine.

Here are 3 methods for keeping yourself from the edge of burnout.

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1. Practice meditation and mindfulness so you enjoy the journey and aren’t solely focused on the goal.

Start with a small, but daily, commitment to meditation. If you commit to just one, two, or five minutes each day, you are much more likely to stick with it. There are plenty of free meditation challenges available online to help you get started.

2. Take time to rest and recharge, especially remembering to double down when times are “crazy busy.”

It’s one thing to be in the zone, but if you notice you’re not getting up to get a glass of water, stretch your legs or use the restroom at least once every 90-120 minutes, you are putting unnecessary strain on your body.

When you notice that your schedule is starting to get maxed out, make a point to block off time on your calendar for self-care and treat it like an important meeting that you must attend. Your self-care activity should be rejuvenating, such as going for a hike, taking a bath, getting a massage, cooking a healthy meal for yourself, reading inspirational books, being in nature, taking a yoga class, working with a life coach, etc.

3. Practice self-compassion, and remember you’re only human.

Self-compassion is being kind and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Practicing self-compassion is proven to boost your willpower so you’ll be more effective and feel great. You can practice self-compassion as a meditation, by thinking of a situation in your life that is difficult, and then saying the following phrases to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering. Everyone struggles, I’m only human. May I be kind to myself. May I give myself the compassion I need.”

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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