Manage Your Energy Better And Avoid Burnout
It got me thinking about how a good number of us are running ourselves into the ground by maintaining the typical multi-tasking, ever-connected rhythm that has become the new normal. While thinking that we're getting more stuff done, what we're really getting is a slow road to chronic burnout.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
Having worked at several internet start-ups, I know the adrenaline rush of doing more work than I ever thought I was capable of doing and the excitement of finally launching products that helped me justify the long hours and stress. That is until my health started becoming an issue. Constant fatigue, anxiety, upset stomach; sound familiar?
Here's the simple truth: Your habits affect your health, and your health affects how you work and how you live. When you're going 24/7, it's inevitable that you will hit a wall at some point. This wall could manifest as a chronic health issue, loss of energy, or just a gradual disengagement from work.
Whatever the wall, it's a wake-up call. This is a good thing.
For me, it meant re-hauling how I ate (more greens) and moved (I'm definitely more walker/yogi than boot camp) and understanding the importance of rest and relaxation. If you don't refuel, your stamina, mental capacity, creativity, and focus will tank.
Having worked with countless top athletes and executives on the verge of burnout, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in their article "The Making of a Corporate Athlete," in Harvard Business Review's "Bringing Your Whole Self to Work," put forth their recipe for energy management and high performance: Establishing rituals that energize you physically, promote mental focus, emotional connection, and spiritual alignment.
A small but powerful takeaway is the benefit of simply taking a break.
After 90-120 minutes, our mental and creative capacities naturally start to wane. To continue slogging away on something beyond that point translates into more mistakes and lower overall work quality. So even if it's 5-10 minutes -- take a break.
What about food? The connection between food and mood is real and can change your energy, focus, and attitude. Yes, it's that big. Need some mental clarity? Fresh berries like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries increase alertness and improve energy. Why? Because they are packed with polyphenols that support brain cell communication.
Also great are plant foods that contain folate, and vitamins E and K, like spinach. Spinach's antioxidants can also improve motor skills memory. Another great source of folate is avocado (and don't worry about the fat -- it's good fat!).
Better yet, throw all of the above into a blender and create your own power smoothie. A great resource to help kick-start nutrition changes is Hungry for Change. Their articles are not only accessible, but also engaging and quite possibly addicting. You will want to keep educating yourself!
Real, sustainable change happens over time. Start small and see what happens.