I just had my voicetested via a new technology called Kijini, which analyzes the tone of your voice for personality traits and nutritional deficiencies (pretty amazing!). My voice indicated that I’m deficient in lutein and B-vitamins—both easy fixes. The personality portion, though, revealed this: “You spread yourself too thin.” Well, that’s no surprise, I thought—who doesn’t? But how do we fix that?
Most modern success stories read like adaptations of Greek myths. Our role models are remarkable demigods like Oprah, Tony Robbins and Beyoncé—we admire and study them with awe, aiming high and taking our own leaps as they lead the way. The entrepreneur or career rock star is the hero, on a journey built from accomplishing half a dozen amazing feats and still fitting in Pilates before dinner. Accomplishments like these are our new currency and our status symbols.
While we strive to be our happiest and healthiest, we also reach for financial success, achieved by long hours and hard work. As we reach for our “best life,” we aim for work-life balance and feel bad when we don’t feel we have achieved it.
And here’s where it gets real: That stress is killing us. We are seeing alarming increases in mental and physical disease either caused by or exacerbated by stress. One in two men and one in three women are projected to develop cancer in their lifetime. Forty million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders. And 47 percent of our physicians report at least one symptom of burnout.
Just about everyone today is spread thin, which if left unchecked can evolve into stress-related burnout and eventually into disease. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve found some remarkably easy ways to keep from falling into the trap of burnout:
1. Don’t mistake busy for business.
Watch your workload and use this simple question for each item on your task list: “Will the effects of accomplishing this task make a positive, lasting impact in my life and the life of the business?” If the answer is no, it’s most likely not worth doing.
2. There’s no such thing as self-made—so get good at asking for help.
Use this simple formula for making requests of others: Identify who can help you, ask them if you can make a request of them, make the specific request with the time it’s needed by, and thank them profusely whether or not they help you. If they don’t help, ask them who they think will. Your success is directly proportionate to your ability to ask for help.
3. Keep Sunday sacred.
There’s a reason world religions have a sacred day of rest—it’s required to maintain health and emotional well-being. The Buddhists have a simple practice called “Circle Day,” when they take one full day off in the middle of the week and use it to rest, meditate, create art and take care of themselves. And it works; when I take time to do nothing, I come back to my work with new insight, boosted creativity and a renewed sense of curiosity.
4. Mind your adrenals.
Stress taps our adrenal glands and causes exhaustion in our bodies—and we often cover it up by drinking more caffeine. When I began taking Standard Process Drenamin supplements, my energy increased exponentially. You can also take Holy Basil supplements or sip Holy Basil tea to help the body stop producing cortisol—the stress hormone that ages and exhausts us. I do both now, and my focus, clarity and ability to accomplish big goals has increased beyond anything I ever thought was possible.
5. Meditate (so you don’t have to medicate).
A lot of the world’s most successful people do it. Start by setting your digital timer for five minutes. Then sit comfortably and inhale deeply through your nose for a five count and exhale for another five count. Repeat this over and over until the timer beeps. Increase as you are able.
My mentor used to call me a “blender without a top” back when I was heading up my tea company, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, and not meditating. The mindfulness activity increased my ability to discern opportunities, delegate more wisely and be more confident. It’s as crucial to my parenting as it is to my business, because it decidedly calms the chaos.
I’ve scheduled a follow-up with the voice analyst, and my prediction is that my lutein and B-vitamin levels will be normal since I bought the supplements and triple-dosed myself, but I expect the personality analysis will not change. I believe that balance is a point of view, and while some would call it spreading ourselves too thin, I’m opting for a different perspective, a healthier hero’s journey: “spreading our wings in flight.”
Spreading ourselves thin is a tendency most of us have in our quest to succeed, but it’s not a lifestyle we can’t counterbalance with some simple, healthy habits. So here’s to your balance and your success on your own hero’s journey—and may it be burnout free!