If constant stress has you feeling helpless and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout. The unhappiness and detachment that burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships and your health. Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. By recognising the earliest warning signs, you can take steps to prevent burnout. Or if you’ve already hit a breaking point, there are many things you can do to regain your balance and start to feel positive and hopeful again.
How can stress have such a negative impact?
To understand how we can prevent or reduce burnout, we need to understand how stress influences us and how it creates such a negative, long-term effect on our overall health and happiness.
Imagine we all have a backpack. During the day, we live our lives, and experience the world around us. If we have experiences that are overwhelming, we can think of this as adding rocks to our backpack. During the night we sleep, and that rest balances out the activity of the day and allows us to eliminate rocks from our backpack. The stress we accumulate during the day and the stress we can eliminate at night are supposed to be in balance, keeping our backpack nice and light.
The problem starts if our lives get unbalanced, and we add too many rocks during then day. We won’t be able to eliminate all of them at night and some rocks remain. If we keep living such a high-stress life, then day after day, we will add more rocks that we can take out at night and our backpack will get heavier and heavier. The heavier our backpack, the less clear our thinking will be, the less energy we will have, the less happy we will feel etc. This is how we slowly get more and more burned out.
Now that we understand better how too much stress can create burnout over time, let’s look at what we can do to turn this process around.
The backpack analogy shows us that burnout is created by an imbalance between the stress we absorb from our environment, and the stress we can eliminate when we rest. This also means that to restore this balance, we can either:
- Reduce the stress in our environment,
- Become more stress-resistant so the stress that is outside of us doesn’t influence us as much or
- Get more or deeper rest so we can eliminate more stress each day.
We’ll cover all of these in the 6 solutions described below.
1. Basic health
Anything you can do to support the basic healthy functioning of your body, will help you be more stress-resistant, so eat healthy, drink lots of water, exercise and go to bed on time.
2. Take breaks
Reducing the stress in your environment, even for a short time, helps your body and mind recover, so make sure you take breaks during the day and vacations between big projects.
3. Be yourself
Constantly having to pretend to be somebody different from who you really are, is exhausting and stressful. So create your life around activities that make you happy and represent who you truly are.
4. Focus on the positive
Focusing on the positive things in your life, will generally make you feel better. Focusing on the negative, will make you feel worse. So as much as possible, try to keep your attention on what is going well and spend your time with positive people.
5. Say “no”
If we are not happy, we often look outside of ourselves to fill that void, by buying new things or trying to please people. The reality however is that happiness comes from the inside and feeling good starts with being rested and balanced. So take responsibility for your own happiness and create some boundaries that protect your balance. Both you, and everybody around you will benefit tremendously.
6. Learn Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a simple, natural, effortless mental technique that creates a unique, deep rest that allows you to take lots of rocks out of your backpack in a short time and recover more quickly. It provides a strong foundation, that will help you to implement all 5 solutions mentioned above. It is not religious and does not require any change in lifestyle and it is practiced for 20 minutes twice per day.
What do TM meditators say?
Here is a short video with celebrities like Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez and Jerry Seinfeld commenting on how TM has helped them deal with burnout and stress:
William Hague, Former British Foreign Secretary
What do burnout experts say?
Around the world, burnout coaches, psychologists and psychiatrists recommend TM to their patients to help them with their recovery process.
Willemijn Van Dommelen, burn-out consultant
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Psychiatrist, U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health
What does the scientific research say?
There are 350 published scientific research studies about TM so we can’t cover all of them. We’ll just share the ones that are most relevant.
The technique very quickly creates deep rest, which helps the body to get back into a state of balance.
This graph from a Harvard Medical School research study shows this clearly: during TM the body almost immediately comes into a state of deep rest, while it takes many hours to reach the deepest rest during sleep (state of rest is measured by percentage reduction in oxygen consumption). Ref.Science 27 Vol. 167 no. 3926 pp. 1751-1754 1970 More than 30 studies around the world have by now confirmed the deep state of rest during TM practice.Ref.American Psychologist, 1987, 42: 879-881.
This study below was conducted to specifically measure the effects of TM on burnouts with teachers in schools.
The study was a randomized controlled trial (the highest quality of research design) involving 78 teachers. It showed a significant decrease in burnouts to the point that the teacher turnover rate was reduced to almost zero. It also showed a decrease in fatigue and perceived stress, and an increase in stress resilience.Ref.Education 131:556-564,2011.
Do you have 90 minutes to discover how everything can change?
To understand how a simple technique can provide so many benefits, sign up for the free informational seminars that are organized around the country. Just fill out the form below, or select your nearest city on the map below. You will be able to:
- Meet a certified TM teacher
- Learn all the benefits that 20 minutes twice a day of TM practice can bring to provide deep rest, reduce stress, improve sleep, increase your self-confidence, improve your relationships etc.
- Ask any question you may have
- Schedule a TM course