Be honest: How often do you “push through” your body’s cues for self-care so that you can meet the deadline, achieve the next big goal, or simply get through the rest of your long day?
Pushing through is doable — for a while. It might even get you results.
But that’s short-term. Long-term, when we’re not fulfilling our innermost needs, we collapse.
That’s exactly what Arianna Huffington, one of the most influential people in the world, says happened to her in this episode of The Mindvalley Podcast.
Here is Arianna’s story and how she used 3 powerful self-care tips to bounce back from burnout.
Arianna Huffington’s Burnout Experience
On April 6, 2007, the co-founder of HuffPost and Mindvalley Mentor, came home from work and collapsed from sleep deprivation and burnout. She fell to the floor and hit her head, leaving her with a nasty gash, a broken cheekbone, and a ride to the hospital.
That became her awakening.
She knew that others celebrated her as one of the world’s most influential women. She was the founder of one of the world’s fastest-growing media companies, and she and her website were quickly becoming household names.
By any traditional metric, she was extraordinarily successful.
But was that was success felt like? Like utter depletion? Like laying in a hospital bed?
She started to ask her doctors a specific question while they were still treating her in the hospital: “What is success?”
Typically, they’d have the same two answers: money and power.
That the way we define success — the two metrics of just money and power — is an inadequate way to define life.— Arianna Huffington
She invented the third metric of success, the ability to thrive. This became the philosophy behind her book, Thrive, which stayed on the New York Times bestselling list for years.
She lists 4 essential pillars science shows contribute to your ability to live a happy and healthy life in this episode of the Mindvalley Podcast. That episode airs the original interview between Vishen and Arianna for his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind.
Why Wisdom Is One of the Pillars of Self-Care
Humans have sought wisdom for thousands of years. In times of need, we have turned to our loving grandmothers, or incredible poets like Rumi, or epics like the Bhagavad Gita.
Science shows us there’s a reason for this. Wisdom helps us manage stress, resolve conflicts, and make better decisions.
Wisdom can also protect you from mental and physical illness according to UC San Diego Psychiatrist Dilip Jeste.
In his study, people with schizophrenia became happier and more stable as they grew older. The researchers believe that this is because wisdom helps us make better everyday decisions that lead to long-term better results.
According to Psychology Today, “wisdom involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs.”
Usually, when we want to increase our level of health, we turn to research. While wisdom is decidedly more difficult to study, there is an increasing amount of research on what actions lead to wisdom.
So, besides wisdom, what else can we do to help ourselves recover from the risk of burnout?
Here are 3 self-care tips to take into consideration.
1. Listen and Let Go
There’s a reason why Marie Kondo’s book and Netflix series, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, became a hit.
We all intuitively understand that there’s wisdom in decluttering.
In the same way that Kondo suggests discarding everything that does not “spark joy,” Arianna Huffington suggests letting go of everything that is no longer helping you. One of her best self-care tips is that if it’s not helping you, it’s probably draining you.
Arianna is not referring to just physical objects — though, sure, it’s always great to create a more supportive environment. She’s talking about the projects we never start, the self-doubts that we never vanquish, and the frenemies we keep around.
The science behind letting go
Here’s an example of what happens when we don’t declutter our life: Researchers Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Utah’s Brigham Young University and Bert Uchino from the University of Utah found that the ambivalent relationships we hold on to are even more toxic than the hostile relationships are. The workers in the study had higher blood pressure after encountering someone they had mixed feelings on versus someone they didn’t like.
Scientists believe this is true because ambivalent relationships clutter the mind with worries and doubts about the other person. Will this interaction go well? Will they insult me?
It’s also easy to hoard resentment. But forgiveness, the ultimate act of letting go, carries tremendous social and health benefits.
When your mind is cluttered with the thoughts, people, and things you keep around, life becomes that much messier.
Letting go and decluttering make listening to your inner wisdom so much easier.
2. Find and Share Your Gratitude
Arianna’s not the first person who’s mentioned increasing gratitude to increase your happiness and longevity.
She’s added this as one of the 12 steps to thriving specifically because there’s so much research on it.
It’s been well-documented that a sense of gratitude is protective. In one study, college students undergoing therapy who wrote down what they were grateful for each day experienced an increase in wellbeing and were more likely to recover.
In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people also experienced fewer aches and pains. They felt healthier and more vibrant. This isn’t surprising, because grateful people also tend to exercise more and go for check-ups more often.
In short, the more grateful you are, the more likely you are to be healthy and health-conscious.
Creating the habit of gratitude
Gratitude expert Robert Emmons‘ research confirms that gratitude can reduce toxic emotions like envy, regret, resentment, and frustration.
Other studies show that jotting down a mere 15 minutes of gratitude can help you sleep longer and better. More restful sleep during the night means more joy and productivity during the day.
A habit of gratitude, therefore, creates a habit of happiness.
Also, when you share your gratitude with others, not only do you brighten their day, you also increase your profound and healthy friendships. Something as simple as saying, “Thank you for doing this,” or “Thank you for being who you are,” opens the door to new, beautiful friendships.
3. Disconnect From the Digital World
Does the idea of disconnecting from your smart devices and social media accounts instantly bring a pang of anxiety?
That’s probably a clue that it’s time for a digital detox.
We are addicted to our completely distracted way of living.— Arianna Huffington
And she’s completely right.
Here’s a scary statistic: The average person checks their phone 80-150 times a day, meaning every 6.5-12 minutes. About 25% of people spend more time on their phones than they actually do sleeping!
And our reliance on smart devices changes our brains.
The most popular apps are the most popular for a reason — they have engineers whose sole job is to make the platforms more and more addictive. We receive a rush of dopamine, just as we would if we ate a donut or took a drug, every time we see a new message, like, or alert.
This creates a world of constant distraction. The temptations are limitless. That’s why Brain Trainer Jim Kwik says that distraction is one of the most alarming trends and one of the biggest dangers in the modern world.
Dr. David Greenfield, clinical psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, says that when our screens are taken away.
The most common response is panic, especially being away from smartphones. Some with witness withdrawal.— Dr. David Greenfield, founder of Center for Internet Technology Addiction
But there are strategies for turning potential withdrawal into a still difficult but more pleasant experience. Namely, finding other ways to occupy the mind.
How to disconnect
Don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you have to lock away your phone and head to a vipassana meditation retreat (although there are a lot of benefits to that). You can cleanse yourself of an unhealthy habit by simply and slowly minimizing the time you spend on technology.
Just as Arianna suggests that you can create a habit of meditation by dedicating 5 more minutes to the practice, you can do the same for your digital detox.
Dedicate the 5 minutes after you wake up to taking a breath before you wind up, and dedicate 5 minutes before you wind down.
You can combine the practice of meditation with this digital detox by meditating first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. And if you know you’ll be tempted to check your devices one last time, leave them out of your bedroom like Arianna does.
Arianna Huffington suggests making a list of sacred activities you enjoy, such as hiking, knitting, writing, meditating, and journaling. Any activity that gets you moving is also more likely to quiet your mind.
These sacred activities will not only take the focus away from not having your phone, but they will also train your brain to enjoy your own being more.
Activities that are restorative will engage you in new ways to reclaim the quiet and allow you to go deeper into your own wisdom.
The “sleep when your dead” version of success is over, replaced with a healthier and more joyful version of success.
Every day, new challenges come up. How successful you are — whatever that means to you — depends on how effectively and joyfully you deal with those challenges. Having a high IQ doesn’t mean you’ll make better choices, but you can use these self-care tips to thrive personally and professionally.
Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.— Arianna Huffington