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Expert GuidanceThe Science of Burnout

The Science of Burnout

From The Wake Up: Learn how to spot the signs of burnout and actively prevent it to bring your refreshed self to work.

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Hi, and to welcome to The Wake Up. I'm Dr. Sahar Yousef. I'm a cognitive neuroscientist, and a professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Today, I'll be talking about how burnout uniquely impacts the brain and the body, and why it's such a prevalent modern challenge. I'll teach you how to spot the signs, as well as ways you can actively prevent burnout, so you can bring your refreshed self to work, and feel more present in your everyday life. Let's dive right in. (soft music) Burnout is a very real condition that can cause immense mental and physiological damage, so much so that in 2019, the World Health Organization decided to officially include burnout as an occupational syndrome. So what exactly is burnout? In the 1970s, UC Berkeley Psychology Professor, Dr. Christina Maslach, popularized the term by studying healthcare and service workers. Burnout, she said, consists of three core elements. One, profound emotional exhaustion. Two, generalized negativity, also called cynicism, and three, feelings of professional inefficacy, not actual professional inefficacy, but feelings of it. Let's say you decide that something is in fact stressful, whether it's an approaching deadline, or an email from your boss, your amygdala gets activated. The amygdala is a walnut-sized area in the center of the human brain that's considered the fear and anxiety center. We all have an amygdala, this panic alarm that goes off when you need to fight, flee, or deal with a threat. That's how we've traditionally experienced stress in what are called short and complete cycles. We panic, and then calm down. Now think about what modern day stressors look like for us. You might wake up in the morning, and the first thing that you see is an email from your manager, but you don't have time to deal with it, because you have to jump into your first meeting. And in that meeting, you get delegated a task you didn't anticipate, and you can't get to it, because now you have to go on to your next meeting. Little by little, you accumulate these upticks in cortisol throughout the day, which is why burnout is like death by a thousand paper cuts. These uncompleted stress cycles just continue to accumulate for days and weeks on end. So is burnout reversible? Thankfully, yes, but it can take months to undo. Here's how you can get started. A highly effective research-backed framework for avoiding burnout is called the 3M Framework. It involves actively taking three types of breaks. Macro breaks, meso breaks, and micro breaks, in order to fully disengage from work stress, and restore your energy. First, is macro breaks, which means every month, you need to be taking a half to a full day off. Second is meso breaks, which is taking one to two hours off every week. And lastly, micro breaks, or resting for a few minutes several times every day. And when I say break, I'm not talking about just kicking back, and...


TypeExpert Guidance
Duration5 min

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