The Zones of Life, Growth, and Health: Understanding Burnout and How to Avoid it
The Dangers of Burnout Borderline and The Burnout Zone
One of the things that makes burnout so challenging is that it usually sneaks up on us and surprises us. I call it the dangers of The Burnout Borderline and The Burnout Zone.
In this newsletter, we'll explore the Zones of Life, Growth, and Health and discuss how to recognize the Burnout Borderline and prevent burnout while still growing.
Learn how to extend the boundaries of your comfort and growth zones and recognize the warning signs before it's too late.
The Zones of Life, Growth, and Health
You might be familiar with the term “Comfort zone” and the saying “Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.”
You might have seen the comfort zone being represented and shown in the figure below:
The comfort zone is not all that bad as the majority of people in the self-help and productivity world want you to see it. A comfort zone has a place in a healthy lifestyle and life balance: it’s where we rest, rejuvenate and recover.
But the problem with the comfort zone is that if we stay there for too long, it will kill us - literally.
The two forces that want to keep us in that comfort zone more than the need are the Ego and our primal brains whose primary goals are our survival. If we stay in that comfort zone too much for too long, we will stagnate, and become weaker and weaker over time, until just an attempt to get out of it will feel like an enormous and daunting task.
That’s why everyone highlights the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and spending more time outside it where growth happens.
But if we push too far into the growth zone and stay there for too long, we might get into danger: we might end up in the “Burnout zone.”
The Illusion of the Burnout Borderline
Let me first say that for the majority of people who don’t have problems with health, energy, and burnout, the borderline of the burnout zone is nowhere close to where they think it is.
It’s an illusion of our minds similar to the comfort zone: our Ego and primal brain want us to keep us alive and safe, and that’s why they want to keep us in our comfort zone where it’s nice, cozy, relaxing, and warm, where we can rest, heal and where nothing bad will happen to us.
And even when we leave our comfort zone and we’re pushing the borders of the growth zone, at some point we might get some signals and intuitive feelings that we’re tired, exhausted, and getting close to burnout and it would be better to take a step back and go back to the comfort zone.
But again, for the majority of people that’s Resistance talking: signals and feelings created by our Ego and Mind that want to prevent from growing and thus keep us safe and alive.
For the majority of people, the burnout zone is far more away than they think. As I mentioned before in my newsletters, we are far more powerful than our minds make us believe we are.
But at the same time, as we push through the resistance of the mind, we should be careful not to go past the burnout borderline and get into the burnout zone.
So at this point, you might be wondering, how do you know where the burnout borderline and burnout zone are?
What is the “Burnout Borderline” and how do you know where it is?
One of the things that makes burnout so challenging is that it usually sneaks up on us and surprises us.
The problem with burnout is that this line between the Growth zone and Burnout zone - I call it “The Burnout Borderline” - is very narrow and there are no signs where it begins and you don’t get any notification that you have crossed it, as you would with crossing any other borderline in real life.
The Burnout Borderline is also not straight and often very twisted. The Zones of Life, Growth, and Health extend in all directions based on areas of life: Physical, Mental and intellectual, Professional, Financial, Emotional, Creative, Social, and Spiritual.
We’re all different and for every individual, each area has a different threshold: some areas have more room until the borderline and we handle more stimulus, pushing and time spend in the growth zone than in others.
For example, professional athletes have a lot of room in the Physical area and can push very hard up until the physical burnout borderline, but they might not have as much threshold in the professional area as entrepreneurs or CEO have.
Another thing that makes burnout hard to prevent is that It often happens that you miss the first signs and symptoms of burnout and you realize that you have crossed that line only when you are deep into the burnout zone.
And once you’re in that burnout zone, it can be very very hard to get out of since it becomes your new “comfort zone” and your new default zone, so to speak.
Because of all these reasons, there's so much talking about burnout awareness and prevention.
How to grow and avoid burnout at the same time
Now we come to the question, how do we optimize our growth and prevent burnout?
It’s hard to give a general rule because is highly individualized and different from person to person, but I can give you a few general tips and advice.
#1: Experiment and push the boundaries
Being in the comfort zone and being safe and thus avoiding burnout is not the right solution. Like I said above, being in the comfort zone too much and for too long will make us weaker and worsen things in general.
Instead, we should go out there and try to find out where the borderlines are. Then, when we found them, we should slowly push them and extend them. The more we extend the boundaries of our comfort zone and growth zone, the more room we’ll have until the burnout threshold.
Work on slowly and consistently extending your own boundaries so you’ll be able to do and be more without being in risk of burning out.
#2: Watch out for and don’t ignore the warning signs
We often ignore, postpone and suppress the feelings of fatigue and tiredness: “I'll rest tomorrow”, “I'll just push through this training session”, “I’ll just survive this week and then take some time off.” We’re all guilty of that.
The problem is that fatigue and stress accumulate and get stored in our bodies until something breaks.
In my personal experience, there are up to 3-5 events of warning signs that warn to take a step back, rest and recover: these warning signs can be anything from:
general tiredness and fatigue,
loss of motivation and drive,
loss of or increase in appetite,
need for more sleep or inability to sleep,
poor physical performance and poor recovery,
diminished mental facilities and loss of creative inspiration,
mental health problems (fear, anxiety, melancholy, and depression).
If you experience more than a couple of these at the same time, that's the sign that you’re at the borderline of burnout or already one foot into the burnout zone and you need to step back, let out and process accumulated things, rest, and recover.
#3: Deliberately step back into the comfort zone
As I mentioned above, the Comfort zone has a place in a healthy lifestyle and life balance: it’s where we rest, rejuvenate and recover.
So plan and deliberately step back into your comfort zone in order to heal, regenerate and recover. Take rest and off days. Be lazy. Spend time relaxing, watching TV, or doing nothing.
Remember: Without rest, there’s no growth. Hustle without rest is the recipe for burnout.
How to grow and avoid burnout at the same time will be one of the main focuses of my upcoming online course called Master Burnout.
In the course, I’ll teach you everything I learned from my burnout journey, including how to improve and elevate all four pillars of the body in much more detail.
The course is in the making, but you can join the waitlist and get updates on its progress and when it’s about to launch.
Members of the waitlist will get a limited special offer when the course launches, so make sure to secure your spot and grab that special offer!