Neuro-hacks

How to Kill Burnout and Upgrade Your Performance the Easy Way

how-to-kill-burnout-and-upgrade-performance-the-easy-way

If you're like me, you've experienced how crippling burnout can be. Despite critical deadlines, burnout can keep your motivation at zero. Everything seems harder. And when it hits, the timing often couldn’t be worse.

Our subjective experience of burnout is validated by brain research. Burnout compromises the cognitive and emotional processes in the brain.

burnout-compromises-the-brain

But what are the most effective ways to prevent and recover from it? 

Your brain works best if you give it even the tiniest breaks (as little as 60 seconds can greatly improve your performance).

Here’s why:

Burnout is caused by too much focus on achieving goals for extended periods of time. We know from many studies that the longer you stay focused on achieving goals without taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation, the more your work quality and performance decline. You need to turn down activity in the concentration center of your brain (the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPF]) several times an hour to allow your glial cells to clean away the stress-related byproducts generated by the neurons in this area.

The fastest way is to take relaxation break and to fully immerse yourself in any pleasurable activity for 1-3 minutes. This could be a taking a short walk, sipping a warm drink, massaging your own head, sketching a picture, looking at travel photos, watching a video on YouTube... Anything that you enjoy!

This cat massage video may help you.

That said, the most effective way to give your DLPF a rest is to enter a trance-like daydreaming state. Research shows that repeating the word "OM" like a yogi may be the fastest way to do this (other sounds don't appear to work!). That said, you may get some strange looks if you do this around others in the office and want to fall back on a more covert strategy.

Don’t feel guilty taking tiny indulgences throughout the day. In fact, we recommend getting very intentional about them. Set a timer to take quick breaks 1-3 times an hour. When you return to concentrate on a specific goal or task, you'll feel less stress and your productivity and performance will skyrocket. You’ll feel better, get more done, and you’ll protect your brain from debilitating burnouts.


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SOURCES:

Neurohemodynamic correlates of 'OM' chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Kalyani BG, Venkatasubramanian G, Arasappa R, Rao NP, Kalmady SV, Behere RV, Rao H, Vasudev MK, Gangadhar BN. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jan;4(1):3-6.

Can we predict burnout severity from empathy-related brain activity? Tei S, Becker C, Kawada R, Fujino J, Jankowski KF, Sugihara G, Murai T, Takahashi H. Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 3;4:e393.

Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress. Savic I. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jun;25(6):1554-64.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

Pause App Slows You Down so You Can Focus and Relax

.@ustwo's #Pause App Slows You Down so You Can #Focus and #Relax

Pause is a beautiful new mindfulness app from ustwo, the creators of the popular game Monument Valley. Inspired by Tai chi, the developers took a unique approach to help you find meditative states. The Pause app guides you to make micro movements with your finger via hypnotizing visual feedback and sound cues. These slow, deliberate movements shift your state of mind to become more present, relaxed and focused.

The experience begins with soothing sounds and text prompting you to place your fingertip on the screen. When you do, a small lava-lamp style blot appears and begins to swell in size. "You can interpret it as your energies of focus regrouping" says studio head Marcus Woxneryd. From there, the app encourages you to make micro movements to grow the blot until it envelopes the entire screen. Then, the app suggests you close your eyes to let yourself fall into a deeper state of calm attention. A bell chimes when the session is over.

Although Pause is not vetted with controlled trials, its approach is backed by scientific research and theory. The developers incorporated Attention Restoration Theory and physiology to activate the parasympathetic nervous system for the relaxation response.

Pause is available for iOS and Android.


The above article was written by Josiah Hultgren, Founder of MindFullyAlive.

The Best Way to Access Your Creativity

The Best Way to Access Your #Creativity at Work

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.


Contrary to what many believe, creativity is not something that you need to stir up within yourself. In fact, it naturally occurs in your brain several times an hour. But how does one best tap into the creative brain? How does one make space for it in a busy work environment? 

By practicing the steps below for 60 seconds every hour, you can dramatically improve your ability to access your creativity.

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Deeply relax
  3. Invite your brain to daydream

What happens next

Thoughts and feelings will bounce around chaotically. That's creative mind-wandering. Watch it without interfering because this is your brain's way to solve the problems you've been working on. Now throw yourself back into work and notice how your productivity increases as your stress levels drop.

Neuro-Tip

Before your 60-second daydreaming break, ask your brain a question you want solved. Then let your mind wander. Afterward, ask your intuition for an insight and pay attention to anything your creative imagination suggests. It may be golden advice!


Check out Mark Waldman's free 6 Days to Enlightenment email series for information on how you can access enlightened states often and easily.