June 25th 2013 was an interesting day in my existence.
I was walking with my friend to the movie theaters & and mid-sentence everything went very wrong. I thought that I was dying. I thought about my life, my family and was overwhelmed with uncontrollable fear.
I had a panic attack.
A week later I woke up with an unsightly rash on the right side of my body. With the little energy I had, I went to the doctors and got diagnosed. I had shingles.
Why am I telling you this?
Prior to June 25th I had been working a stressful 9-5 as a mechanical engineer, was commuting an hour to play on a stressful semi-pro soccer team 4 times a week, and was a few months into starting my first website, which I didn’t know shit about so It was a daily struggle. And it lead to my 100% burnout.
I don’t want sympathy, it was one of the best things that happened to me in the long run, but I want to help you prevent this from happening to you.
How common is burnout?
What sparked me to write this was an episode from the suitcase entrepreneur with Chris Ducker, which was titled how to avoid burnout and gain virtual freedom.
In the podcast, Chris talks about how he has completely burned out twice, the first time getting shingles like myself.
If you don’t know, shingles is a re-emergence of the chicken pox. It’s common in the elderly but should not be happening in a 24 year old man! Burnout leads to an extremely weakened immune system, hence the shingles.
So to answer the question, this is VERY common in entrepreneurs, and people working 9-5 jobs. In Japan there is a term called Karoshi. It translate to death by overworking and is a term used commonly because so many people in japan are literally working themselves to death. Just dropping dead on the job. It’s scary.
I was lucky to come out with shingles because I am here today.
What are the signs you are close to burnout?
The signs of burnout will scream at you in the face. Your body wants you to stop doing what you’re doing, but most people try to power through.
Look out for:
3) decreased mood, sometimes even depression
5) Poor sleep
6) Complete loss of motivation
What does it feel like to be in burnout?
The quick answer, it’s horrible. I spent almost a month in bed. Zero energy & dead inside. I Had to take many days off work, and when I did go in, I was useless. It was a scary time in my life because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. “Was it the shingles, was it the anxiety attack?” I was a f*cking mess.
How to avoid burnout?
Stopping burnout before it happens is key. You can recover, which we will talk about below, but trust me, a little bit of prevention is so worth it.
1) Take regular breaks
Simple enough right? Don’t go nuts. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
After my ordeal, I always take a day off every week. I never used to do this & then I burnt out. I will produce a little slower, but I will produce better, more sustained & longer.
I am sure you know the story of the tortoise and the hare.
Most people don’t even know how to breathe correctly. This causes stress and other problems. Learn how to breathe & you will learn how to relax, produce & succeed.
3) Be calm
Again, no sense in getting stressed. The outcome is usually better without stress & stress rarely changes anything for the better.
And you can be calm with a lot on your plate. How you feel in any situation is completely your choice. Don’t get overwhelmed.
Aim for 1 hour of exercise a day. This is what Chris Ducker does to keep himself going & I agree. Exercise reduces stress & produces beautiful chemicals in your brain.
5) Be mindful of your time
Take time off every day. And take days off every other week
6) Be selfish
Be a selfish asshole if you have to. (you won’t have too…) But the point is that your time is your time. And you do not need to please everyone.
Put your life mask on first so you can properly help others.
7) Yoga & Meditation
Yoga is great, meditation is even better.
If you can commit to meditating 20 minutes a day, I don’t think you will encounter burnout. It’s almost like a burnout insurance policy. But it’s free and feels good!
Learn how to meditate for healing here.
9) Fresh Juicing
Fresh juicing is incredible for your body & will go a long way towards preventing burnout.
If you want to learn more about it check out the link in the additional resource section below.
10) Avoid excessive alcohol and junk food intake
Alcohol only taxes your body further. Try and avoid too much indulgence ; ).
What to do if you are currently burnt out or find yourself in burnout?
Sometimes, things just get out of hands and you may find yourself in burnout. You don’t even have to be fully burnt out. Even mild burnout can really be a burden.
Again, what to look out for?
2) Inability to concentrate or focus
3) decreased mood, sometimes even depression
5) Poor sleep
6) Complete loss of motivation
These are all signs that your body and mind are starting to burnout. If you feel this way or are already in full burn out, there is still hope for your life.
Although some people go for years with only half their energy, you don’t have to!
How to fully recover from burnout
Recovery from burnout is certainly possible. But the first thing to understand is that you need to be patient and recovery is not going to happen overnight. Depending on your level of burnout you can recover in anywhere from 2 weeks to a year. But if you do the right things you will recover, and relatively quick.
I am 7 months away from my full burnout when I couldn’t leave my bed. I started feeling close to normal around 6 months. since then I went back at all my nonsense and got close to burnout again! That’s why I have decided to turn my recovery habits into daily life habits & share this article with you.
My energy levels are decent and I am still doing A LOT. If I had less on my plate I would be fully recovered by now, but I am coming fully back to my old self.
If I can recover while still putting in 12 hours a day, so can you.
1) If you are so burnt out that you can’t leave your bed – Don’t!
Do not feel bad or lazy! This is huge for your recovery. You may be a burden on your family for a month, but it is not your fault. You need to accept that you need to let your body & mind heal. This will speed up your recovery.
2) Don’t stress
Adding to the above. Do not stress. Even if you cannot get to work and things are getting a little close to the edge. Stress does not allow you to heal. You need to relax & activate your parasympathetic nervous system in order to heal. This is key. The body only heals when in relaxed parasympathetic mode. Read more about it here.
3) Start exercising before you think you are ready.
If you are burnt out, you are not going to want to exercise. At all! Trust me.
The sinister thing is, you will feel so shitty & will truly believe that more exercise will only continue to tax your body. If you can’t even get out of bed, then yes it will, but if you are up and even at just a ¼ of your energy levels, exercise will help. Just take it super slow.
Do it for about a week and you will start to feel the difference.
4) Start slow
Adding from the point above, take exercise slowly.
Start by walking around the block a few times. A few days later maybe do a small jog. After the first week you will start fully jogging & then start hitting the gym. It will work, just keep going.
5) Eat incredibly healthy & juice daily
This is so important. A lot of people are in perpetual burnout simply because of the crap they shovel into their bodies. It’s insane.
Eat a LOT of veggies. I recommend fresh juicing 2X daily. If you don’t have a juicer, I use this one. Its $100 and it works perfectly.
Avoid sugars & sugary drink. Avoid all white carbohydrates. Get good fats.
Just find a good balance. Fresh veggies, good carbs (sweet potato, whole grains), proteins (chicken, beef, fish, eggs), and good fats (avocado, coconut oil, fish, even butter!) Also consider supplementing with some well-reviewed nootropics.
6) Take proper supplements
I recommend supplements. But do not go overboard.
My recommendations are Nature’s Way Kelp (1 – 3 capsules daily), Vitamin D (6,000 I.U’s daily), Omega 3 Fish Oil (1200 mg daily – The spicified brand is awesome) & a Multi Vitamin/Mineral Supplement similar to MegaPan.
I know this seems like a lot, but these are all essential and still pretty basic.
7) Drink a lot of water
I recommend a gallon a day. Just drink water, your body will need it.
8) Relax & be chill
Just simply take this as a practice to being chill. Otherwise, it will eat you up.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So please do yourself a favor and slow down if you have to.
The idea of an entrepreneur working all day/all night without any sleep is a myth.
Similar to what Ameer Rosic said in episode 24 of The School of Greatness, I am in this for the long haul. If you want to work all night and out achieve me in the first year that’s fine. But I am going to get enough sleep, work smart, and completely demolish you in a ten-year span. I’m in the game to change as many lives as possible. And I would rather reach 1,000,000 people in ten years than burnout after reaching 250,000 in one.
Slow and steady wins the race.
– Sean Russell
1) Perfect meditation technique for preventing & reversing burnout:
2) Beginners guide to fresh juicing
3) Why drinking water after waking is a good idea
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