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How to Kill Burnout and Upgrade Your Performance the Easy Way

Another day of feeling like a complete failure because you can’t manage to get out of bed. It’s a fun little game where you get to feel like crap and accomplish nothing.

Even the tiniest tasks seem impossible when burnout hits, and it always seems to strike at the worst possible moment.

Thanks to neuroresearch, we now know the obvious. Burnout is a real thing that messes with your brain, gimps your cognition, and drops hair in your soup of emotions.

Q: But what are the most effective ways to prevent and recover from it?

A: Your brain works best if you give it even the cutest little breaks (as little as 60 seconds can greatly improve your performance).


Here's why

Burnout is caused by too much focus on achieving goals for extended periods of time. We know from many studies that the longer you stay focused without taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation, the more your work quality and performance decline.


You need tell your brain to chill out and turn down the activity in the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPF] which is like the control center for concentration, several times an hour to allow your glial cells a chance to come in and tidy up the stress-related byproducts pooped out by the neurons in this neighborhood of your brain.


The fastest way is to get out of the way, take relaxation break, and to fully immerse yourself in any pleasurable activity for 1-3 minutes.


This could be a taking a short walk, sipping a warm drink, massaging your own head, sketching a picture, looking at travel photos, watching a video on YouTube… Anything that you enjoy!

The very most effective way to give your DLPF a rest is to enter a trance-like daydreaming state.


Research shows that repeating the word “OM” like people do in yoga classes may be the fastest way to do this. Other sounds don’t appear to work – which I feel is weird, but sure.


Don’t feel guilty taking tiny indulgences throughout the day. 


In fact, we recommend getting very intentional about them. Set a timer to take quick breaks 1-3 times an hour. When you return to concentrate on a specific goal or task, you’ll feel less stress and your productivity and performance will skyrocket. 


You’ll feel better, get more done, and you’ll protect your brain from debilitating burnouts.

A scuba diver with fish swimming around him, showcasing the mental focus required for this simple yet exhilarating activity.

Dive Deeper

Neurohemodynamic correlates of 'OM' chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study.
Kalyani BG, Venkatasubramanian G, Arasappa R, Rao NP, Kalmady SV, Behere RV, Rao H, Vasudev MK, Gangadhar BN. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jan;4(1):3-6.

Can we predict burnout severity from empathy-related brain activity?
Tei S, Becker C, Kawada R, Fujino J, Jankowski KF, Sugihara G, Murai T, Takahashi H. Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 3;4:e393.

Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress.
Savic I. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jun;25(6):1554-64.

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