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How to Fight Off Burnout With a Workout

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A lot of entrepreneurs complain about burnout and its buddies; migraines, lack of sleep, uneasiness, anxiety, and clouded thinking. When we are under stress and fatigue, almost to a point when we would just like to fall into a deep sleep and skip work for 48 hours, our mind does not function properly. In fact, here’s an experiment – think about your latest bad decisions in business, and think about your last friction with a co-worker, employee, or a boss.

Don’t you credit that experience to “a bad day”? And most likely, you were really tired or stressed that day, right? Now, it doesn’t matter if we only slept two hours that day or we woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, some days are just bad. You feel tired, you don’t have time for self-reflection, there’s just so many things that need to be done.

However, what if there’s a little hack you can do so that you can increase the probability of a good work day? Would you do it? Well, here it is – get moving. You’re tired? Go hit the pool. Stressed out? Book a yoga class. Need a break from the concrete jungle? Invite your friends for a round of beach volleyball this weekend. The thing is, for you to beat burnout and exhaustion, you can tap into your reserve energy, and use it to produce more. Sound counterintuitive? We don’t blame you for thinking that, but several studies have proven that this works.

Tackling the science

A study done at the University of British Columbia found that cardio exercises like aerobics, dance, or martial arts boosts your hippocampus size. This is the part of the brain that facilitates knowledge transfer, memory, and emotional regulation. So whatever it is that you do for work or whatever business you’re in, exercise will absolutely improve your mind’s disposition while you’re doing it.

Regular exercise also encourages better sleep, which leads to a clearer mind and a healthier disposition. As you know, when you’re sleep deprived, you are prone to mistakes, bad judgment, and overly sensitive feelings. Reduced stress and anxiety have also been reported to be a positive effect of regular exercise and good sleep.

“Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Ghandi

Real life business action stars weigh in

Richard Branson, a known entrepreneur, enjoys a wide range of activities for his daily exercise. From kitesurfing, to tennis, to yoga, he makes sure he inserts ample exercise hours to his days. He varies his daily activities and claims that it adds hours of productivity to him.

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and Square, admits to following a tight schedule for exercise. He clocks in gym time, runs at least five kilometers daily, and also practices yoga. He believes it’s integral to how he does business and how he can function as a high performance entrepreneur. And since he owns two high – profile tech businesses, we can only imagine how busy his days get, yet, there’s really no excuse to not get active!

Where you can start

According to experts, the key here is to pick a physical activity that you actually enjoy. Something that you will look forward to doing. The first few days of your new lifestyle will be dedicated to building the habit rather than trying to lose weight or build muscle.

Another easy technique is including your loved ones or your colleagues in these activities. Since you are also looking forward to spending time with them and helping them become healthier, this is a good plus.

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

Lastly, record and chart your experience. Keep track of the time you spend exercising; how soon you feel tired at work, whether you still get migraines, difficulty of sleeping, or find yourself bingeing…whatever your bad habits are before, see how exercise can change a lot of things for you.

Then, also keep a separate record or diary for how it helped your business. Did you see a drastic jump in productivity? Better time management? Better mood? Better decision making? Monitor it so you can appreciate it better. This way, you feel motivated to keep the habit and can even share your experience to your fellow entrepreneurs!

To many people, exercise is a way to get the body they want so they can look good and feel good at the same time. The thing is, constant correct physical activity, is just another way for you to reward yourself for building positive habits. Plus, now that you know it’s also a key factor to being successful in business, we’re pretty sure you’re never second-guessing this anymore. Now, are you ready to build a real empire? Then build the strength to create it first.

How do you cool off after a stressful experience? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Karla Singson is a hyperactive serial entrepreneur, who helps small and medium business owners maximize their profitability and impact through marketing and PR. To date, she writes, speaks on stages in Asia, and she also thrives in the comfortable space between dark humour and dark chocolate. Catch her at her website and her Instagram account.

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What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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