3 Ways To Hack Burnout, Anxiety And Fatigue

 

My buddy Ty is going through his third product launch. It’s an online E-Course which helps podcasters take their concept and make it a reality.

This is his most sophisticated launch, with an integrated online App that does all of the back end mixing and uploading for you. It essentially removes all of the pain points for new podcasters.

All the customer has to do, is submit the raw audio file to Ty’s App and his software will mix it and upload it to Soundcloud, iTunes and Stitcher.  He can barely contain his excitement because this is going to be the premier E-course, software package and mentorship community for all new podcasters.  The work he has put in for the last 11 years mastering his craft has finally come to fruition.

But…

The late nights, early mornings and constant grind have taken it’s toll. Each day he goes to bed wishing he could have accomplished more and then wakes up feeling way too tired to start the day.

Even through he loves his work, the signs of burnout have been showing for a few weeks now.

His symptoms:

  • He wakes up really tired (really tired).
  • The only time he feels awake is the hour following his ¾ pot of coffee in the morning. 
  • His brain and body finally wake up, around 10:30 PM right before bed.
  • Even after sleeping 6+ hours, he doesn’t feel rested.
  • During the night he wakes up every 2 hours to go pee.
  • Despite being only 31 his sex drive is completely gone.

Things are rolling along with his launch until, disaster strikes….

His overseas software development team tells him their final release will be 3 weeks late and they are still charging him for the extra time. Essentially the development team was moved to another project with a higher bidder (this happens all the time), leaving his project understaffed. To make matters worse, the scheduled launch is 2 weeks away.

Ty has to go into damage control mode now. All of the people that pre-paid for his product are going to be angry. Very angry.

He is also almost completely out of money and was relying on the launch to bring in new customers. Now he has an upset customer base, an neglected family and is left wondering: “what else could I have done?

 

It Happens To Every Top Performer

We’ve all been in similar situations. High pressure and huge stakes projects that test our will. They consume our every thought and cause us to burnout. We pour our heart and soul into our work, hoping to make a difference. We just want to put a dent in the universe. 

However, the late nights, early mornings, bad takeout food and constant stress cause our bodies, minds and spirits to break down.

We age years in weeks and add pounds that are a bitch to take off.

 

What Burnout did to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs experienced an extreme case of burnout during his return to Apple in the early 2000’s. Jobs served as the CEO of both Apple and Pixar. Two multi-billion dollar corporations which were experiencing some dramatic growth and needed his full attention.

In his biography, Jobs describes the feeling:

It was rough, really rough, the worst time in my life. I had a young family. I had Pixar. I would go to work at 7 a.m. and I’d get back at 9 at night, and the kids would be in bed. And I couldn’t speak, I literally couldn’t, I was so exhausted. I couldn’t speak to Laurene. All I could do was watch a half hour of TV and vegetate. It got close to killing me. I was driving up to Pixar and down to Apple in a black Porsche convertible, and I started to get kidney stones. I would rush to the hospital and the hospital would give me a shot of Demerol in the butt and eventually I would pass it.

This grind took it’s toll and Jobs attributed this period to when he developed pancreatic cancer, which killed him.

 

Damage Control 

In our go-go-go society we rarely take the time to rest, rejuvenate and recover. This won’t be a lecture about “overdoing it” and I won’t bother telling you to avoid caffeine. Instead let’s focus on damage control in the moment and ways to keep you performing at a high level when you need it the most.

As the leader of your group, tribe or organization, you can’t afford to break down. Your people need you. 

Who’s This For? This post is for the high performance investor-entrepreneur who loves work they do and won’t stop. It’s practical advise that you can implement in your daily habits to deal with burnout.

SIDE NOTE:

  • The definition of Investor is someone that is willing to put off present pleasure and comfort for future rewards and gains. This applies to money, time, and energy.

  • The definition of Entrepreneur is “someone who remakes the world in their own image“. This requires you to be creative and innovative.

This solutions in this article are not a “quick fix” solution, but it will keep your engine running during times of extreme pressure. We look at stress, anxiety and burnout from a biochemical perspective, breaking down the food, beverages and supplements you are going to need to stay on-top of your game and avoid adrenal burnout. [4]

 

Problem 1: The Food We Eat

When you are implementing new habits or behaviors (which is going to happen a lot) your brain and body are burning through extra energy in the form of glucose (free blood sugar), ketones (energy from fat) and glycogen (stored energy from glucose).

One study showed that the brain consumes 20+% of the available energy in times of extreme stress. Your body needs to make up for the increased energy output and this is where most people go wrong. [1] [2]

Here’s the main problem: When top performers get busy, they stop eating quality food and turn to quick and easy food.

While in highly stressful situations, your body needs more energy and micronutrients. The last thing you want is stop eating or consuming garbage in the form of pizza, take out Chinese or sub-sandwiches.

Image From Rain Maker Consult

Image From Rain Maker Consult

This food not going to cut it. It does not help you sustain energy levels and the quick high you feel is followed by a huge post meal energy crash. Most people experience this in the afternoon around 1:00-2:00 PM following lunch.

The graph shows the effect of regular high sugar meals and their effect on insulin. This effect has been shown in many studies to be the cause of many diseases we see in western society. [5] 

 

 

Problem 2: The Beverages We Drink

The second most common mistake is drinking sodas or energy drinks. When your blood glucose levels drop after intense problem solving our immediate response is to look for fast acting carbs (sugar).  The rise in blood sugar and insulin causes us to burnout even faster. If this cycle continues, we loose the ability to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. 

SIDE NOTE: Many sugar free energy drinks have a sweetener known as Aculsefine K, which causes a release of insulin without the presence of glucose. For non-nerds, this means your body reacts the same way to sugar free drinks, even without the added sugar. Causing further fat gain and adrenal breakdown.

 

Problem 3: Adrenal Function Meltdown

Burnout is not just a feeling or emotion. It is a biochemical reaction (hormonal) that happens throughout your body.

When you are burned out it, is usually the result of the Melatonin-Cortisol hormone cycle getting out of whack.  These are the two hormones responsible for waking you up and helping you sleep.

When these cycles get disturbed you’ll never perform at a high level. The figure below shows how the Melatonin-Cortisol cycle functions in a healthy adult (they are flip-flopped in unhealthy populations). 

Image from Paleo Mom,

Image from Paleo Mom,

How It Is Supposed To Work:

  • The hormone Cortisol is supposed to be high in the early stages of the day. It keeps you awake, and alert.
  • The hormone Melatonin is supposed to rise in the latter part of the day. It puts you to sleep. [3] [4]

Symptoms of A Reversed Melatonin-Cortisol cycle.

  • You feel sleepy throughout the day, but finally wake up around 9:00-11:00 PM each night.
  • You wake up several times during the night and have a hard time falling back asleep. 
  • You store excessive fat at or just belly button (see Biosignature below).
Image from Charles Poliquin. 

Image from Charles Poliquin. 

Want to know if your Melatonin-Cortisol cycle is out of whack and causing you to gain excessive weight? According to Charles Poliquin’s Biosignature test, disproportionate fat storage at or below belly button is highly correlated to prolonged cortisol exposure. For more info on Poliquins Biosignature test click here

 

Solution 1: Eat For Brain Performance

In problem 1, we learned about how your brains uses 20+% of available energy during times of extreme stress. Supply your brain with the energy it needs with high protein and high fat foods. Keep fresh avocados, raw almonds, smoked salmon, sweet potatoes  or pre-made proteins nearby and available for easy access. 

Instead of turning to the candy bowl or take-out, a little planning goes a long way. Pre-make a week of lunchtime meals on Sunday before the week starts.

When you need quality food fast, check out your local grocery store. Most have a fresh salad bar or hot bar so you can get quality food fast.

When your energy levels dip, you’ll need to eat more quality food to make up for the increased energy demand.  

You essentially have 2 choices:

  1. Eat more quality food to maintain peak brain performance.
  2. Suffer through low energy levels throughout the day.

Which one will you choose?

 

Solution 2: Get Fresh with the 3 G’s

As we learned earlier (in problem 2), most energy and sports drinks are terrible for you and should never be consumed. 

As top performers we need a different approach, which we’ll call the 3 G’s.

Yogi tea’s make a great line of adaptogenic herbal tea’s which you can drink instead of energy drinks. They taste better, are great for you and work with you (instead of against you). Their ingredient profile is better than most herbal supplements and don’t have the 40X markup seen on most labels.

Quick Background on Adaptogenic Herbs: (non-nerds) With adaptogens your brain and body respond to stress much faster than before. Essentially they help you adapt to new stressors faster than your bodies natural hormetic response. 

Adaptogens have been used in Eastern medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Recent studies have suggested that they improve everything from testosterone production to increased your life-span [6] [7]

 

There are 3 G’s: Green Tea, Ginseng, and Ginger.

  1. Green Tea: Much has been made about green tea and its performance boosting properties, so I won’t go into great detail. It helps with everything from cognitive performance to losing weight. Drink green tea in the early and mid-day to get the full benefits. Do not drink in the evening.
  2. Ginseng: It helps you handle stress better, by warding off the oxidative effects of too much stress.
  3. Ginger: Super anti-inflammatory. This superfood contains shogaols and paraduls, which increases glutathione production and helps heal the lining of your stomach. It increases adrenal hormone output (adrenalin) and is also a powerful thermogenic (keeps off the extra lbs).

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

How to do it:

  • In the Early Afternoon: 1 cup go Yogi’s Green Tea Super Antioxidant.
  • During Lunch: 1 Cup of Yogi’s Ginger Tea.
  • In The late Afternoon/Evening: 1 Cup of Ginseng Vitality.

**If you are really feeling crazy have 2 cups of each!

 

Solution 3: Nourish Your Adrenals With Licorice Root

As we learned in problem 3, when cortisol levels are out of whack you feel sleepy all day.

Licorice root works the best for correcting this. It extends the half life of cortisol activity, keeping you awake and alert. It also prevents you from wasting testosterone to make more cortisol (no bueno).

How to Use it:

  • Take recommended dose on bottle it in the early part of the day to maintain proper energy levels. Do not take late in the evening.

Recommended Brand: Try Licorice Supreme

 

Key Takeaways:

Feeling “burned out” is something you can recover from and deal with in the moment if you know how.  By looking at it from a biochemical perspective we can deal with many of the negative effects.

Let’s Review:

  • If you have consistent low brain energy, try adding a few more servings of healthy proteins and fats throughout the day.  Avocadoes, raw nuts and smoked salmon are great choices.
  • If you find yourself reaching for energy drinks and sodas, try Yogi Tea’s blends of Adaptogenic teas instead. Have the 3 G’s on hand (Green Tea, Ginger, Ginseng).
  • Feeling tired all day?  Waking up at night? Try licorice root extract in the morning. It will help you feel normal again during the day. 

 

Sources:

[1] Clark  D. D. & Sokoloff, L. (1999) in Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, eds. Siegel, G. J., Agranoff, B. W., Albers, R. W., Fisher, S. K. & Uhler, M. D. (Lippincott, Philadelphia), pp. 637–670.

[2] Sokoloff  L., Mangold, R., Wechsler, R., Kennedy, C. & Kety, S. S. (1955) J. Clin. Invest.34,1101

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25892993

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25984797

[4]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23627245

[5] Taubes, G. (2007). Good calories, bad calories: Challenging the conventional wisdom on diet, weight control, and disease. New York: Knopf.  

[6] http://www.ergo-log.com/ginger-boosts-testosterone-levels-in-human-study.html

[7] http://www.ergo-log.com/longevityginseng.html

 

Books Mentioned

About Ben Austin

My friends call me the illegitimate love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye. I’m a bodybuilding-yogi-science loving-foodie bringing an engineering approach to lifestyle design. Join me as I analyze the systems that go into optimal mental and physical performance and explore the stories and tactics of people who set the standard for the rest of us.
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