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May 23, 2018

How to train your mind to avoid emotional and physical burnout

Written by Dr. Caroline Leaf

“Self-care” is a trendy topic in today’s world. It seems like everyone is talking about taking the time to take care of yourself, reducing stress and getting that much needed “me-time.” Yet, while some people may afford to take time off to invest in “self-care,” what about the average person who has what feels like two jobs trying to support a family in a world that demands more, more and more? How does the average person balance the demands of work, and the demands of life, without falling into the burnout black hole, which can negatively impact our physical AND mental health? 

There is good news! We have the ability to make stressful situations work for us! A large part of self-care is not isolating ourselves from the demands of life, but learning how to handlethe demands of life. 

So how can we make stress work for us and avoid the b-word, a.k.a. burnout? Below are some helpful mental self-care tips: 

1. Mentally observe how many times you have toxic, repetitive thoughts in a 24-hour period, and write them down.

2.Now mentally choose to declutter your mind of these damaging, repetitive thoughts that can lead to a burnout.

3. As you do steps #1 and #2 be on the lookout for “victim” language like "no one understands me", “I can’t handle this” or "bad things always happen to me" and replace these thoughts with “I am unique” or “I am more than able to get through this”.

4. Challenge your sense of self-doubt by pretending to give advice to someone else—what would you tell someone else to do in your situation? 

5. Cross out your toxic thoughts with healthy replacement thoughts. Get rid of the things that weigh you down and hold you back. Choose to stop engaging in the habits that counteract your hard work! Make a list of ways you can improve, and practice them over three sets of 21 days (how long it takes to build a long-term habit in the mind).

For more information on controlling toxic thinking patters, see my book Switch on Your Brain and the 21-day detox program.

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