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Home How to Overcome Burnout: 3 steps to have more energy and get more done

How to Overcome Burnout: 3 steps to have more energy and get more done

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I never saw exercising as anything but getting that six-pack beach body to match the six-pack of beer I’d have at the beach.

So I would lift weights here and there, just to stay in shape. I would do this for an hour in the middle of the day (this part is important) and then get right back to the grind. But I was shooting myself in the foot.

I would work late into the night afterward — the stress weighing on me like I was rucking with a ton of bricks. The irony is that if I had been rucking with bricks instead of just pumping iron, I would have been able to manage the stress and the burnout that bit me later on.

I was exercising, but not in the right ways, and not for the right reasons. It isn’t about shape-shifting into that Olympian swimmer physique or building up biceps the size of a bison head. I would argue that’s the least important part.

As many people have caught onto by now, exercise can do so much more for you. Specifically, aerobic exercise — like running or cycling. It grows new brain cells, it helps the ones already there make fresh connections, and it provides more oxygen which prevents you from slipping up as your workload and stresses increase.

But it does something else too.

It makes you happy.

For the longest time, we’ve heard of the “runner’s high” — a natural mood booster. But there are two myths around this, one of which you already know and one that you probably don’t:

Runner’s high isn’t just for runners. Any aerobic physical activity can boost your brain and release those “feel good” chemicals.

Endorphins aren’t the source of this good feeling. There is another chemical called endocannabinoids that are behind the curtain pulling the strings. These are the same chemicals that cannabis (marijuana to the uninitiated) mimics.

With those myths busted, we can dive deeper into how this works and how it benefits you when you feel burned out…or “just bummed out” as Dwight Schrute would put it.

The areas of the brain that regulate how we respond to stress (the amygdala and prefrontal cortex) are the major players here. It turns out that they also have the most receptors for endocannabinoids to lock onto.

Imagine the receptors and the amount of them like the opposite of our backed-up ports right now in America — plenty of room for the ships to dock and unload.

When endocannabinoids “dock” at these receptors in these parts of the brain, it reduces anxiety and decreases stress. They also increase that sense of well-being by jacking up levels of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in your brain.

This one-two punch by endocannabinoids takes those burned-out, cynical, nihilistic feelings and turns that frown upside down.

So how best to achieve this and banish burnout?

Exercise right and first thing.

Don’t even give burnout the chance to get its foot in the door and its hand around your neck.

To take full advantage of this, one of the first things I do in the morning is hit the ground running and hit the bike. I cycle for about 45 minutes. I do this before I even have a chance to start thinking about starting work.

It’s meditative. It gears me up to stay in the pocket for the rest of my day before the day is lost to everything I have to get done.

As I said, it also gives me that one-two punch of feeling good and clear-headed to conquer the day. All responsibilities bow down before me. I have the stamina and sense of well-being to slay them all. I power through them like it’s a Tarantino movie.

Physical activity as soon as you roll out of bed will turn that nightmarish black and white day into a full-colored dreamscape.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being.” — Plato

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