Can I avoid burnout?
On a daily basis, entrepreneurs try to achieve high-level performance and highly forecasted targeted numbers. To achieve such effectiveness, it is vital to have some understanding of our body function in various situations. We have two nervous systems in our bodies. It is not possible to get naturally rid of stress, but it is possible to handle it. In the 1920s, scientists already researched a Fight-or-Flight response from our central command neurons of the sympathetic nervous system (Jansen A., (Nguyen X, Karpitskiy V, Mettenleiter T., Loewy A.* 1995). There is no need to understand chemistry or biology to understand the theory. Fundamentally, during stressful situations, our sympathetic nervous system has these two responses or, for better understanding, behaviors: to fight or to flight. Naturally, fighting or flight from all the stressful situations such as a lecture, job interviews, and so on is impossible. Although, handling these situations is possible when the person is aware it is a stressful situation for them.
Different from the Sympathetic Nervous System, the parasympathetic nervous system balances the body in a different way. It is the responsible the relaxed and recovering moments of the body. More about definition of recovering will be covered out of introduction.
A relevant information still about the nervous systems is that these two parts does not work at the same time. They are work as a light switch. If a person is stressing, they cannot relax at the same time. The understanding of these nervous systems can work as a tool to achieve better results and to avoid burnouts being a high-performance person being an athlete or an entrepreneur, either way, the knowledge can be applied.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity of having an intro to the Revolution Training by Jouni Viitanen. Jouni is head coach of Revolution Training, former ice hockey goalkeeper, he has won two times the world championship of aerobic gymnastics, author of “Liikkuvuuden vallankumous” [The revolution of movement], and also coach of world champions in many different sports. Besides getting a customized weekly group exercise to improve health and wellness, Jouni shared his knowledge about two essential nervous systems to have a better balance in life. The most interesting information for me was that when the parasympathetic nervous system is active is the moment that our body is biologically recovering. The relaxation is not only about mind, but it includes also the body. I always thought that a long walk in the forest would be a recovering time for my body, but it is not. It can bring a good mental feeling, but the exercise is stressing the body and it doesn’t allow the recovery meanwhile. Important to remember the light switch, it can only be “on “or “off”, it can only be “stressing” or “recovering.”
If a peaceful long walk in the forest doesn’t recover one’s body, what would then recover? Jouni explains that a couple of things blocks the recovering. Substances such as caffeine or any other substance that gives you a boost is actually stressing your body to work faster. Any long or heavy exercise can relax the mind, but it is again stressing the body, the muscles and so on. Would we need then do meditation to finally be able to recover? Not really. The recover happens when you are doing something that makes you happy and it is not physically stressing your body.
It means that recovery can happen in simple moments as hugging your kid or your significant parts. It can happen while knitting and watching a serie. It can for sure indeed happen while meditation or a relaxing mode yoga. Recover happens when taking a break during the day, watching outside from the window or a having an easygoing little chat with a colleague. The main recovery time is maybe the most expected time for many people during the day: sleep time. Sleeping takes many hours of our twenty-four available hours of the day. It is extremely important we are able to use effectively these recovering hours. Some tips to do so, are to create a routine for the body to understand you are going to sleep. Lower the lights few minutes before, disconnect from the phone or any electronic device, lower the temperature of the room, quality of the bed, read a book.
Everyone is different, what works for Jouni or for me does not necessarily works for you. It is good to try different approaches and find what improves your sleeping quality. To watch series right before falling asleep might be your way to go, and that is okay if it supports the recovery of your body.
The emphasis on recovery in this piece of information is so broaden because what nowadays happens to most of the people in living in Finland is to stress all the time. We do it so well that it is almost our full-time job: stress our body. We are stressing watching social medias, bad news, going to the gym, working and supporting our friends. What are you doing during your routine to recover? The smartwatches or body activity trackers gives a great graphical view of when are we recovering or stressing. If you have one of these laying around, check your body activity. You might get surprised seeing the moments of the day that you think it is recovering and they were stressing you out and moments you thought boring or stressful that were actually recovering you.
As already shared before, sleeping is an amazing recovery tool. Have you ever tried to take a nap during the day? A nap right after the work on the arrival at home might give the boost you have been covering with energetic drink or coffee. Ten to fifteen minutes should be already a good recover to allow you to have quality time at home or going to the gym after a long journey on work or school.
There is not a formula that will make you less stressed and recover faster. The idea is to pay attention on how you act. Try to stay positive. Enjoy whatever is your way to recover. Jouni shared that hugging his kid is a big recovering tool for him. I can share that hugging people who are close to my heart also works for me pretty well. The routine of lowering the lights around the house is a big one to use.
To avoid a burnout is possible if we can identify the stressful and recover moments of the day. Find the balance, reduce the negative stress sources such long time in social medias, long working days etc. You can try some of these tips and check if you are more energetic and less prone to face a burnout.
Viitanen, J. (2022, September 28). Revolution Training Lecture: Sleep and Recovery. Seminar presented at the breakfast session of Futurice Oy Office, Tampere.
Jansen A., Nguyen X, Karpitskiy V, Mettenleiter T., Loewy A.*(1995) Central Command Neurons of the Sympathetic Nervous System: Basis of the Fight-or-FIight Response. SCIENCE vol. 270 (644)