I have recently come across this interesting video on the BBC News Facebook site while scrolling down my feed on the way back home from work. In this short video, stress expert Nerina Ramlakhan explains the most common signs of burn out that people can experience due to stress at work and, more importantly, how to improve things if you are suffering. I find this info very relevant in the current culture that we are living in, where being busy and tired due to overwork is being glorified and regarded as the only way to be.
This video also reminded me of the book I have been recently been reading: ” Peak Performance” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, in which, the authors, both of whom are high achievers and experts at sports science, give us a recipe for a successful and happy life that can be achieved in a healthy way. They talk us through a guide on to how to improve our performance in all areas of our life, step by step, giving us tools with which we can make sure we get the most out of ourselves and achieve our best, avoiding the dreaded burnout.
In the first few chapters of the book, they stress the importance of rest as a necessary part of our recipe for success and not a luxury we can hardly afford. Regardless of the nature of your goals ( be it business or sports) without the appropriate amount of rest you are on a highway to an imminent burnout. In fact, adequate rest is necessary to counterbalance the periods of hard work and charge our batteries to be able to do your job more efficiently.
‘The growth equation’
However, rest is not the only part that is going to make you a high achiever. Rest without adequate levels of hard work (stress) is not going to get you anywhere of course. They use this equation to illustrate the elements that you need in order to succeed.
Stress + rest = growth, which is a secret formula for success!
According to the authors, the periods of stress (training, hard creative work) need to be followed by periods of rest during which your body and brain can recover from the strains and reap the benefits of all the hard work that you put in. The equation holds true for whatever area you are trying to grow in and whatever your goals are.
Some stress is good for you!
They describe how a certain amount of stress is necessary for you to grow. What makes a difference is how you react to it. If you learn to embrace stress and channel it into energy to do a task you have got at hand in the best possible way you can, then you are on the road to success.
Just manageable goals
In order to achieve your peak performance, you should always be challenging yourself with just manageable goals, that are just a tiny bit outside your comfort zone. They need to be hard enough for you so that you work hard but not as hard as totally outside of your limits. If your goals are not challenging enough, then you will be making no or little progress. Similarly, if you raise the bar too high, you might get demotivated quickly and give up altogether.
The importance of purpose
The purpose is something that makes your actions meaningful and all your efforts worthwhile. In order to achieve your goals, you need to have a purpose and frequently reflect on it. So, before you start on your journey to success, you should ask yourself about your true motifs.
For example, if you plan to get trained to be able to run a half-marathon you should ask yourself why you really want to do it. Is it because you want to get fit in the process? Improve the health of your heart? Or maybe raise funds for a charity of your choice? Whatever it is, it needs to be of great importance to you so that when the going gets tough you can remind yourself why you are doing it in the first place.
The right balance
The key to success is the right balance between hard work and rest. As much as important rest is, if it is all that you do, you are not likely to make much progress. Similarly, if you do not get enough time to relax and charge your batteries, you might find yourself burnt out sooner or later. It is a golden rule that can be applied to all areas of life; if you want to achieve your peak performance and avoid burn out, you cannot do it without quality rest.