In an audience of 200 managers and leaders, as a speaker, I’ll always invariably lock eyes with the few who I know are on the brink of burnout.
If I hadn’t been in their seats myself, I would be forgiven for feeling a bit shaken, unnerved, and possibly even reeling in a sense of personal attack.
They fold their arms. They slouch back in to their chairs, not trying to hide any gaping yawns from their infrequent breathing.
And if they’re anywhere near the front of the audience, they do everything in their power to send you subliminal messaging that your wasting their time.
I’m often the recipient of ‘The Eagle Stare’, as I call it – penetrating and on purpose.
As a specialist in the field of burnout it’s my job to pinpoint the very people who don’t want to listen; who don’t want to sit through an hours lecture, who feel they have better things to do, just as I did only a few years ago.
It’s paradoxical to me that the very people who need my help, are the people who struggle to relax long enough to take it. But I get it. I feel their frustration.
Google the term Burnout, and you’ll be rewarded with over 46 Million confusing and conflicting results.
Burnout is not a replacement name for mid life crisis or the housewife’s nervous breakdown, although these terms have seemed to take a backward step in the media of late even though they’re still very prevalent and damning.
Burnout is a mantle reserved for the overachievers amongst us, the high performers or type A personalities who ignore all the physical signs and symptoms that the chronic stress highway gives us, and do the exact opposite of what they should do; they put their heads down and work harder.
In fact, replace the term Burnout with ‘Workaholic’ and you’re almost there.
In the third phase of the burnout cycle, 3 fundamental things change in our lives, all because of ONE factor.
1. We reach a point of absolute exhaustion
2. We feel a hopeless despair
3. And we are completely devoid of all emotion
All because we ignored the signs that our BRAIN tried sending us (sleepless nights, skin rashes, upset tummies, irritability, lowered libido etc.), until one day the ‘happy, calming’ hormones and chemicals in our brain had reduced so much, we woke up with nothing left in the tank to fight back with.
That is the science behind the reality of what these ‘eagle-eyed’ audience members are dealing with.
The beginners guide to addressing burnout, is to respect and deal with your brain chemistry first and foremost.
Yes, Yoga and mindfulness techniques help with the daily stressors, but they’ll only get you so far unless you refill your neural tank.
Take Dopamine for example.
Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine.
Studies on rats showed those with low levels of dopamine always opted for an easy option and less food. Imagine a workforce filled with brains low on Dopamine, all vying to take the easy way out and work less.
There are some very simple things we can do today to tackle low dopamine directly.
1. Laugh, even fake laughter increases the percentage of Dopamine released within the brain
2. Eat animal protein linked with high Tyrosine (a precursor in the Dopamine chemical reaction) – think cheese, beef, lamb, chicken.
3. Express wonder and marvel at the small miracles in your daily life, (like a butterfly crossing your path, or a free car space)
Don’t settle for being the person who throws the daggers in the room filled with high performers. Be the person who lights up the room instead. Take responsibility for having allowed burnout to progress so far and tackle your brain chemistry head on.
If you’d like more information or ways to address each of the Miracle 5 chemicals, head on over to my website; www.aniwilson.com.au.
And practice safe stress!