If we told you that you needed to drive your car non-stop across South Africa, no fuel stops, what would you say? Impossible – why … because our cars were not built to go that far without stopping for fuel.
So why is it a surprise that we humans are not meant to work and think non-stop? Fuelling our bodies is important, as well as our mental health.
Dr Kent Bradley, chief health and nutrition officer, Herbalife Nutrition says mental exhaustion can cause you to burn-out. This is a result of placing demands beyond what our bodies were meant to sustain.
What are ways to keep our minds properly lubricated, and to replenish ourselves so we prevent burn-out? Bradley shares tips refuelling mind, body and soul.
First – our minds are constantly being fed data. That data must be processed as we look for meaning and patterns. We draw conclusions and beliefs by the constant scanning of data. Those conclusions and beliefs are the basis of how we respond to life.
This pandemic has been a tsunami of new information. We want to synthesise and draw conclusions because that is how our brains are wired. When we get new data that amends or even contradicts earlier data, it creates conflict. Resolving that mental conflict so that we can make good decisions is important. We do this by creating distance between the data. Time is often a great distance creator. We need to slow down the pace in order to get our needed space to think, to put things into perspective.
How do we slow down the pace?
Stop consuming information non-stop.
Recognise that information is not timeless. Information is bound by what is known at the time. We are wired to make meaning, and from that meaning draw conclusions. But that may not be possible and conclusions we may make are not timeless.
Calm your mind through intentional practices. Meditation is something often discussed but seldom practised by many.
Think about something else – give your mind something else to think about other than the pandemic. It would be preferable to think about something that is energising and uplifting.
Practising these steps can help you be more intentional on how you consume, analyze and act on data.
Adjusting your mindset
Another way we can look at how to deal with stress and anxiety is to take a more long-term approach by developing practices that provide us resilience when faced with life’s challenges.
Resilience is this ability to move through adversity in a way that is healthy and effective. It assumes that adversity will occur but provides a buffer to reduce its impact. Everything that we spoke about concerning ways to reduce stress is applicable but there are five specific ways of thinking that are extremely powerful. If we were to practise these attitudinal mindsets, we could buffer ourselves from mental exhaustion and burn-out.
A mindset of gratitude – So easy to say, so hard to do. Gratitude is a mindset that searches for and recognises the things that we can be grateful for. The practice of gratitude energises us and helps us in times of adversity.
A mindset of confidence – This is more than “the little engine that could.” It is also a mindset that is based on a belief that we are capable of taking the action needed to accomplish what is needed in the face of adversity. Confidence inspires hope.
A mindset of meaning and purpose – This is the mindset that my life has meaning and value and purpose. It is also a mindset that my actions have purpose and thus I must take action to continue despite setbacks and difficulty.
A mindset of connectedness – This is the mindset that I do not have to do this alone and in fact should not have to. That we are not alone and there are many who are on this journey, and together, we can overcome.
A mindset of positivity – This is not a glass is half full orientation although that can be helpful. It is a mindset that is nourished by the benefit of positive emotions that often come from gratitude, purpose, and connectedness. It is both a result, as well as a mindset, as we recognise that we need to have a life enriched with positive thoughts to help buffer us in times of adversity.