iterating towards truth


Dealing with burnout

I could barely walk home, my stomach was on fire and I felt that the world is ending. I am dying. Thats it. I have pushed it too far. Your mind is filled only with dark thoughts and world is ending soon. Since it is not enough, you start having a small panic attack that you are really dying. Your heart-rate starts to rush up. You know it is coming and you need to calm yourself down. Welcome to the burnout. I have been there, couple of times and for anyone who has experienced that knows, that it is a hard one to fight. Especially if you have been doing everything you could. The problem is that sometimes that is the problem. We try to focus on performing everything so well, that we forget why we are doing it in a first place. It is like a vicious cycle that you need to experience couple of times to learn your lesson. The more cycles like these you experience, the more you are creating rather nasty patter. Pattern of being stressed out out of being stressed out. Because next time, a little nuance can trigger similar body reaction. The more time you experience it, the more time your body will feel that it is natural thing to do. Then, even minuscule tasks that stress you out a bit are triggering over-exaggerating response and suddenly anything you wanna achieve in life that involves healthy dose of stress becomes an issue. So what can one do about it? Anyone who tells you “just relax” have no idea that it is a bullshit advice. You need practical advice from someone who overcome this, not some bullshit generic advice like “take it easy, dude”. Of course you know that you should “take it easy”, but how to put it into practice? Over the years I have came to a conclusion, that when shit really hits the fan, simple Tony Robbins Triad will not do on its own unless is deeply internalised. What works for me, when things are really bad is a combination of deep physiology change (in two domains), something what I call positive movies and joyful exercise. What are those:

  • 1 Deep breathing in a most relaxed way – be it lying down, sitting, standing whatever it takes to get you most relaxed. 5 seconds in, hold, 10 second out, hold. As long as it is necessary and you get that shaking of you at least a bit. Then follows …
  • 2 Deep stretching – it does not matter which stretches you do, you must do stretches you find helpful, calm, relaxing yet that help your body to calm it down. Find your way but keep stretching and breathe slowly.
  • While you are doing all of that, you truly need to flood your mind with nice and positive things (positive movies). Whatever it will be. From reassuring you love yourself and others, pictures of trees, beautiful things you can be grateful, feelings of you being in full control. Anything what it takes to change your thoughts. Literally you need to change every cell of your body to feel calm and happy. You must force yourself to feel joy while doing the two things above and really deeply feel them, live them.

These three practices can take anywhere from 10 – 60 minutes but they are the most powerful weapon I have found. They get me into the state of calm. Then I pause and think about one thing I really wanna do next. Do I wanna play piano for the sake of joy playing the piano? Do I wanna draw? Do I wanna trade? Do I wanna flip a coin? The most important aspect is that it can’t be performance based, it must be super focused / narrowed and … tadadadada-daaa … it must be done for the sake of joy, nothing else. So to repeat

  • 1 Deep breathing
  • 2 Deep stretching
  • 3 Joyful exercise

If you gonna get yourself again at some point to a state of feeling really really down, having a breakdown, feeling anxious. Pause. And start doing this. If you master this, you can shorten it to a 60 seconds and get your system reboot, be it at home or at the office toilet minute before giving the most important presentation of your life. Good luck.

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