How to Kill Burnout and Upgrade Your 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.


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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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.

Want More Happiness? Just Stay Alive and Lower Your Expectations

Want More #Happiness? Just Stay #Alive and Lower Your #Expectations

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

For decades researchers have come up with conflicting evidence on the connecting between age and happiness. In 2013, Scientific American reported on a comprehensive study showing that, on average, most people become happier as they age. Peak happiness tended to be around the age of 60-70.

So how do you explain the "crotchety old man" stereotype? By the degree of suffering you experienced in childhood. For example, the Great Depression caused worldwide unhappiness, and although those children would continue to grow happier with age, happy children had a head start.

But wait! A new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows a pattern reversal in the last 5 years.  Instead of the moodiness of youth subsiding, older adults are feeling less satisfied than people in their 30s. The researchers suggest an intriguing reason:  high expectations! 

This shows we would do best to savor past and current accomplishments. Practice acceptance and gratitude while gently working to improve oneself. Engage in mindfulness practices proven to increase self-esteem and well-being. 

If you do, it's very likely you'll grow happier and happier over the passage of time.


Don't abandon your dreams. Focus on future goals that bring deep meaning and purpose as you slowly move to them. Spend a few minutes realizing all the gifts you've received in every year of your life.  Happiness is there, hiding in the neurons of your brain.

Take a moment, right now, and mindfully reflect on all the tiny accomplishments you’ve had this past week.  Notice how it makes you feel to savor these past moments of success. Now reflect on your accomplishments this past month. Is your sense of happiness increasing?  If you write down all of the pleasurable accomplishments in your life, you might just have a transformative and enlightening experience!

Fireflies time-lapse by  Vincent Brady

Fireflies time-lapse by Vincent Brady


Age Brings Happiness: Exactly how much joy, however, depends on when you were born. 
Karen Simring. Scientific American Mind, May 1, 2013.

More Happiness for Young People and Less for Mature Adults: Time Period Differences in Subjective Well-Being in the United States, 1972–2014.
Jean M. Twenge, Ryne A. Sherman, Sonja Lyubomirsky. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1-11-16.

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

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.


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.