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The Binge-Burnout Cycle 🧠
87% of US workers suffer from Burnout... (12min read)
The 2 main parts of the Binge-Burnout Cycle
How this cycle affects the brain
The 3 Step Solution to Burnout
The Operating System of your Brain
The Heroes Body, and the 5 areas you need to optimize to beat this cycle for good
What is the Binge-Burnout Cycle?!
Welcome back! Today we are talking about a topic close to my heart, burnout. I’ve seen so many people around me experiencing it, even my own development team was feeling this way…
It can be hard to spot in today’s high productivity society and the interesting thing about burnout is that it’s more of a cycle than one specific thing!
Let’s take a look:
Look familiar? It has two main parts, the Anxious Binge to keep busy, and the burnout phase where you crash. In the Binge, you juggle all of the balls effectively, which can feel like hyperfocus, but eventually, you lose interest in the project, you don't want to work anymore, and you question if you're even smart enough to be doing the job.
Sometimes, this burnout phase can even lead to varying levels of depression…
So that's the cycle, but this wouldn’t be the Heroes Digest if we didn’t dive into what's happening to your brain during it!
If you look at this brain scan, you can see that there is less white matter inside of a burnout brain…
This is bad... Losing white matter can cause things like:
The speed of information processing to decrease
Diminished attentional capacity
Scariest of all, it speeds up the aging process...
So, how do you escape this cycle? Or, better yet, is it possible to never enter it?!
The Solution, in 3 Steps
This is an easy loop to get caught up in, especially in today’s world. In the work I do, I work with a ton of Developers who are struggling with this Binge-Burnout Cycle and to help them, I’ve built out a 3 Step process to attack it!
The first step is simple, but not always easy. The “achieve culture” we live in makes it hard to admit to ourselves at times, but we must become aware of the problem if we want to solve it!
One of the easiest ways to do this is to know the cycle ✅ and to learn the 3 Signs of Burnout!
The 3 Signs of Burnout
Let’s break them down!
This isn’t the “I worked out hard today so I’m tired” type of exhaustion. This is the type that no matter how much sleep you get, or how many breaks you take, you're still tired. Your energy seems to be permanently low, almost like every day is a groggy journey.
After a long enough time, you begin to become more of a cynic. You have a negative filter on life, everything you take in is framed negatively. Even if you’re typically a positive person, the overwhelm, stress & anxiety have a way of beating you down over a long enough period.
This creates this negative filter because it’s less painful for our brains to expect the negative than to hope for something better, and have nothing change.
Finally, Purposelessness sets in… You don't see a point in what you're doing anymore. Your job, career, relationship, etc has lost its “why”. This is often the lowest part of the cycle.
It’s at this point that varying levels of depression are often felt, and your tired, cynical brain starts to give up and shut down.
Bringing your attention to these 3 feelings is an easy way to examine where you’re at!
Another awesome resource is the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Here’s a link to the PDF version of the quiz so that you can print it out, and take it anytime you need it!
This was created by Dr. Christina Maslach, who is one of the leading researchers in the world on the topic of Burnout!
The quiz goes even further in-depth on some of the early warning signs of burnout and is a quick and easy way to test where you are at!
Take a moment and ask yourself “Am I experiencing any of these signs?”. If you are the next step is to escape the cycle!
In the coaching I do with Developers, I teach them to name everything, what do I mean by this?!
Studies show that naming your emotions immediately releases their grip over you and reduces physiological distress.
You can name your Burnout anything you'd like, I use this naming tool for all sorts of different emotions.
For example, my Anxiety is called Mamba, which is the name of a roller coaster near where I live. I used this name to help shift my “Anxiety” to “Excitement,” which is what I would feel on a rollercoaster.
After all, the neurochemicals released in your brain when you’re anxious are the same ones released when you’re excited, the only difference typically is how your brain is labeling it.
On a roller coaster, I’m normally excited, so calling my anxiety Mamba allows me to trick my mind into calling forth a different, more fun experience which calms me down almost instantly.
By naming your Burnout, you can train your brain to separate from the experience and bring forth a more playful state of mind, which will allow you to Escape this cycle faster and faster over time!
One of the other most powerful exercises I have clients work through is a Belief Wheel Journal.
In this exercise I have them examine their experience using the tool below:
The idea here is to help you pull yourself out of the situation you’re currently in and observe what’s happening to you more clearly.
Here’s how the Belief Wheel works.
Start at the Results section and identify the results you want versus the results you are currently getting.
Once you’ve got a result, you can go the rest of the way around the wheel.
The next section is Beliefs, which is where you should write out what underlying beliefs may be leading to the undesired results. In this case “burnout”.
For example, do you believe that you can’t say no to your boss when they ask you to add “one more thing” to your already overloaded task list? Do you believe you wouldn’t be a good employee if you took time off for yourself to recharge? Do you feel like a failure if you’re not able to get as much done as other people around you?
You will know that you’ve gotten to the right belief when those familiar Feelings/Thoughts pop into your mind!
Great, you’re on the right track, now use it to move into the next section, which is the Feelings & Thoughts that those beliefs produce in you!
If you believe you can’t say no to your boss, that may make you feel stuck and helpless, and if you feel stuck and helpless you may think, “there’s nothing I can do about this” or “I have no options/power in this situation”...
Other times the thoughts come first, “If I say no to my boss, I’ll get fired, and then I’ll become homeless…” which makes you feel despair, hopelessness, fear, etc.
Write these Feeling/Thought combinations down, these are your “Judgements” that your Beliefs stir up.
Finally, we move into the Action portion. What actions do these Feeling/Thought combinations make you take?
Do you take on more work than you can handle? Do you agree to unrealistic timelines? Do you work over the weekends to get your overloaded task list complete? Do you skip working out, eating right, or getting enough sleep to get more work done?
Write these out. Can you start to see the pattern?
Almost without fail, as I walk people through this exercise, they begin to understand what’s led to the undesired result we started with, this realization gives them more agency in the situation instantly.
Now that the pattern is outlined in a precise way, we can more accurately address what needs to be done to achieve the desired results.
Can you begin to outline what actions could potentially lead to better results for you?
Action is the first place I work with people, sometimes just seeing the pattern we’ve drawn out is enough for them to understand what actions they can take to get a different result.
Action is where you have the most power, your actions are under your control, which ultimately means your results are under your control as well!
Once you’ve mastered taking action, and are getting different results, the Wheel starts to work in your favor, because the new result starts to form a new belief, the new belief creates different feelings and thoughts, which then reinforce the actions you’ve taken.
HOWEVER, for some people, the beliefs they have stored are so deeply ingrained in them that it continues to deviate them from taking or changing their course of action.
In these cases, a Believe Session to attack the result you’re looking for from a Beliefs first perspective is what you need. Changing your beliefs change your Feelings/Thoughts, which shift the Actions you take and allow you to get the result you want!
I don’t have time to dive into how these sessions work today, but if you believe this is something you need help with, I would be more than happy to hop on a quick call to talk to you more about it, here’s my calendar: Book a Belief Roadmap Call Now
Now that we’ve covered a couple of tools to help you Escape this cycle, let's talk about how to prevent it from happening again or entering it at all!
Rebalancing is how you can stay out of this cycle for good!
When we get to a place where we are burnout, we’ve generally been neglecting some key areas of our lives that have negative downstream effects we aren’t aware of until it’s too late.
The best place to start to understand rebalancing is to understand the Operating System that runs "YOU", which is made up of your Mind, Brain, and Body.
I’ve written a whole article on how these 3 parts of you work in unison, here’s a link if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet!
At Rewrite & Rise, we call this Brain Operating System the Heroes OS.
There are two ways to think about this system, Bottom-Up, and Top-Down. In this blog, we are only going to cover our Bottom-Up process for time’s sake!
That being said, I’ve got a special bonus at the end for those of you interested in our Top-Down process as well and I will be sure to do another segment on Top-Down Processes.
The Bottom-Up Process we teach people is called the Heroes Body, we call it this because the Bottom-Up Process starts with your Body, moves up to your Brain, and finally helps you shift your Mind.
Your Body is where your emotions are generated, felt & stored, your Brain then communicates these Emotions to your Mind. This makes your Mind more like a notification center, and less like the place you're actually "feeling" things.
This is why when we work with people struggling with the Binge-Burnout Cycle who are “feeling” Anxious or Depressed, we help them understand the Heroes OS.
Once you understand that the Anxiety/Depression you feel is a notification from your Body that something is up, knowing what to do about it becomes much simpler!
The Heroes Body breaks down into 5 Areas that when balanced help the alarm bells in your mind to stop going off so often!
The Heroes Body
Let's break down some of the basic recommendations for each of these areas!
Sleep (Most important)
You need to be getting at least 7-9hrs per night
Learn your chronotype, if you don’t know yours yet, take this quiz and then @ me on Social Media with yours, mine is a Lion!
Create a Morning & Night routine, this helps your brain get into a Sleep-Wake rhythm which will allow you to sleep much more peacefully!
Lift Weights 3-4x per week & do HIIT type workouts 2-3x per week
Stressing out your body like this helps clear out old cells, and create new ones
Take a 10min walk after your meals, especially dinner
This blunts the glucose spike you would normally have after a meal, and at night time, this will help less be in your blood as you’re trying to fall asleep
Stretch your body
Doing Yoga or getting a massage is a great way to release tension from the body
More sugar = Less life this has been proven time and time again. Sugar is like a wrecking ball in our bodies, literally aging everything it touches
Skipping breakfast is an easy way to implement this. Breakfast is a “new” phenomenon evolutionarily, I mean just look at the word… “Break Fast” when we had to hunt for our food, we didn’t eat until after 12-1 PM because we spent the morning finding our meal.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol swells your brain & body plus it’s been shown to have a negative effect on mental health, moderation is key!
Build your Tribe
If you hang around 4 millionaires you’ll be the 5th. If you hang around 4 drug dealers, you’ll be the 5th. Be aware of who you spend your time with!
Build your Network
It’s been proven that weak connections get you jobs more often than close relationships, building your network allows you to develop more of these types of connections in case you're ever in a professional pinch
Do something with or around others 1x per week
Stop being so serious all the time
I like to say, “Adults are just kids wearing costumes.” Take off the costume every once in a while
Find a hobby that you LOVE, this is a great way to prevent fatigue in other areas of your life
Play 2-3x per week, but what is “play”?!
Go play a sport, go to a park and swing, play cards or chess with a friend, go swim for fun, play in the rain, hunt for worms, have a water balloon fight, anything that allows you to cut loose, and forget the time
By following these basics, your Hero's Body will be well on its way to living a healthier, happier life.
The Heroes Body also gives you a measuring stick, if you are feeling more anxious, burnout, depressed, etc, remember, that your Body is notifying you that something is off. Now that you have this OS, you'll be able to be more precise in your problem-solving.
Instead of saying, "I'm anxious..." You can start to say, "My Body is feeling a little anxious today probably because over the last week I haven't seen 1 other person, have been eating terribly, and haven't exercised at all."
Precise problems equal precise solutions. The Heroes Body allows you to have this precision for your Mental & Emotional Well-being!
I bet by now you’re curious about our Top-Down Process… Questions are where this process begins!
That being said here is a link to the Top 5 Most Powerful Questions in the English Language... You should be asking yourself these daily!
If you’re going to start developing your Heroes Body and would like others to join you, I highly encourage you to share this email with your friends, family, & networks, here’s how:
Thanks for tuning in today, and until next time... Live Heroically 🔥