How to Deal with Burnout

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Nick Oswald: hello, and welcome to another edition of the happy scientist podcast, this is the place to be if you want to become a happier healthier and more productive scientist.

Nick Oswald: I am the causal the founder of bite sized bio and today we will be drawing on the wisdom of Mr Kenneth for the bite size bio team coach.

Nick Oswald: and founder of the executive mentioned company real curators.

Nick Oswald: Today, and in all other happy scientists podcast episodes you get to benefit from his you're like words of wisdom to help you increase your performance enjoyment and success in the lab.

Nick Oswald: In this episode we'll be discussing a topic that many of us will deal with, or at least think we will deal with at least one point in our life, and that is born right okay Ken let's talk about how to deal with Burma.

Kenneth Vogt: Right let's do that it's a it's a topic that is a brave concern if somebody feels like they're up against it.

Kenneth Vogt: And i'm gonna i'm going to refer to my own life, right now, just to just to use as as an example, we are less than three weeks away from the anniversary of my stroke.

Kenneth Vogt: And I spent six weeks in the hospital and i've spent almost a year doing outpatient physical therapy if anybody should be burned out right now it's me.

Kenneth Vogt: Except i'm not i'm not burned out now i'm surrounded by people that tell me how hard they're having it and how burned out, they are, and it got me thinking, I wonder how many times.

Kenneth Vogt: It is that people aren't actually really burned out what they are is they're just tired.

Kenneth Vogt: And so the question would be then, how do you tell the difference, well, I can tell you what's been working for me.

Kenneth Vogt: If i'm feeling like i'm burned out if I take a break, and I feel better.

Kenneth Vogt: i'm not if I can get get some rest or take a nap if I can have some kind of change of pace, you know whether that's sit down and watch the game.

Kenneth Vogt: Or maybe you know get out of the House and it stops I know i'm not burned out, but if you find that you're taking steps like that and it's not helping.

Kenneth Vogt: that's that's a different story now now we're talking about actual burnout now I don't want to take away from those of you that aren't.

Kenneth Vogt: aren't having according to oil burnout because if you're feeling stress that way you know you do need to deal with it, and it is a good thing for you to take a break or to.

Kenneth Vogt: get some rest or or make some change by all means feel free to do that, but if you've been taking steps like that and it's not working, and you get scared.

Kenneth Vogt: And you're starting to think I don't know what i'm going to do here, because i'm i've done everything that people say you should do and it's it's not changing anything.

Kenneth Vogt: Then, then we can look a little deeper now some other other signs that that you might be burned out is.

Kenneth Vogt: A sense of prolonged stress like stress has been there, so long you're not even sure where it started but it's ever present and won't ever go away, sometimes it gets worse than other times, but the baseline is always there so that could be a sign of burnout.

Kenneth Vogt: Or you find you're being overwhelmed by things and often about things that that to your mind shouldn't be overwhelming you know why am I overwhelmed at this toddler right now i'm overwhelmed by.

Kenneth Vogt: What is the normal workload, you know and the lab Why am I overwhelmed by having to deal with the same colleagues those had to deal with you know being consistently overwhelmed can be a sign of burnout also.

Kenneth Vogt: Now, if you find yourself just unable to meet the demands of your normal daily routine things you used to be able to do, but you just can't.

Kenneth Vogt: Or maybe it's, not even a matter of it's used to maybe, things have changed but it's it's what should be an acceptable level of requirements of you, and you see other people around you able to manage it, but you can't well again that can be a sign of burnout.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing you may encounter is that whatever is on your plate you just don't feel like it you just you've got no motivation about anything.

Kenneth Vogt: You know you don't want to bother the well you don't want to bother to go to the gym you don't want to bother to go to work you don't want to finish that report.

Kenneth Vogt: You don't want to write that study you don't want to do that experiment you don't want to do anything okay well that kind of lack of motivation, especially if that's a change can be.

Kenneth Vogt: If you find you're just interested in your surroundings things that used to excite you things are used to find energizing or beautiful or.

Kenneth Vogt: You know enjoyable to be around you just don't care anymore you don't care if if things are neat and tidy around around your workspace you don't care.

Kenneth Vogt: The things are in good working order you don't care the things are clean you don't care the things are safe, you know, again, these can be signs of burnout.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing you can look at it's just yourself or neglecting yourself, are you not bothering to get a decent amount of sleep.

Kenneth Vogt: Are you are you just staying up watching YouTube videos for no reason whatsoever and in at a time when you really should be in bed.

Kenneth Vogt: Are you finding that you know i'm not going to buy you just don't want to bother to comb your hair brush your teeth or.

Kenneth Vogt: You don't want to bother you know going to the hairstylist or or or whatever routines that you're you're typically used to, or you get to a point where, maybe even people are noticing and saying you know.

Kenneth Vogt: Maybe you should you should pay a little more attention if you get two buttons on button than your shirt what's what's up with that or.

Kenneth Vogt: Two like I hate to tell you, but your breasts kind of bad these decks or or like you gotta wash your hair every once in a while or or whatever it might be, you know, are you are you just not taking care of this, this wonderful vehicle that you're walking around in your body.

Kenneth Vogt: And finally.

Kenneth Vogt: What kind of emotions are you having are you experiencing anxiety to a level that it's really getting in a way.

Kenneth Vogt: Well, let me, maybe it's not even that maybe you're just being cynical about everything you just think everything is going to everything's going to go bad.

Kenneth Vogt: Every possible negative thing is likely to happen and I hadn't even thought of all the negative things that could happen, yet, but i'm going to put some time into that work on you know.

Kenneth Vogt: Or are you feeling hopeless feel like i'm not even gonna bother thinking about it it's it's the whole world is going to blow up that's just the way it is and there's nothing I can do.

Kenneth Vogt: Are you having those kind of emotional reactions to things again, these are all all these things could be signs of burnout.

Kenneth Vogt: Now some of you out there are going to recognize this list and go okay.

Kenneth Vogt: individually those things have happened to me in my life here in there and we've all had that happen we've all been stressed, sometimes or overwhelmed or.

Kenneth Vogt: or stopping attention to ourselves or lack motivation, but in other cases, if you're finding that you know.

Kenneth Vogt: Some of these symptoms looks so familiar I can't remember not being without them or i'm having so many of these symptoms are ones that this is, this is a change, this is, I haven't had this before, or worse, yet this is how it's always been for me.

Kenneth Vogt: So if you made it all the way to being you know, a PhD scientist in the lab and you've been burned out the whole time while you need to write a book and tell people how you survived it.

Kenneth Vogt: chances are this hasn't been your your normal course all the time, so if it does pop up, it can be pretty disturbing because it's not normal it's not a place, you should stay and it's not replacing need to stay.

Kenneth Vogt: there's no requirement to to your job or your career the burnout should be a normal part of it, it doesn't it doesn't have to be that way.

Kenneth Vogt: Now, another thing is the kind of the labels that we use to describe burnout because some people they don't want to admit they're burned out.

Kenneth Vogt: And, and so they try to try to label it in such a way that well that doesn't apply to me is the only thing i'm feeling is physical but emotionally mentally i'm fine.

Kenneth Vogt: Or, the only thing i'm feeling is emotional let's it's just the emotion to worry about that who cares or it's just mental stuff i'll get over it.

Kenneth Vogt: It can happen in all those areas in in can show up in different ways, and again this is still a way of recognizing that something's going on that you've got some some of the symptoms here.

Kenneth Vogt: And I wanna I want to take one them aside here and come to that look i'm not speaking as a psychologist i'm not speaking as a counselor.

Kenneth Vogt: If you really feel like you need some support in that way, by all means get some professional help now.

Kenneth Vogt: And if you if you're not comfortable with professional help perhaps you will be comfortable maybe you've got a mentor in your life, maybe you've got a trusted associate that you can lean on.

Kenneth Vogt: By all means reach out to somebody don't don't try and do it alone, you know we humans are social creatures and you know we all need support some time.

Kenneth Vogt: So back to how one might experience this for now physically, it could show up as tiredness and especially tiredness that doesn't make sense to me it's like.

Kenneth Vogt: I understand i'm tired after I just cleaned out the garage you know for six hours but it's like i'm tired I didn't do anything okay that may be a sign or you've got you know aches in your body that that again don't have an organic source or you're having headaches, you know.

Kenneth Vogt: I hate to say that headache certain normal because I don't wanna I don't want anybody who has said X to feel like How dare you say such a thing.

Kenneth Vogt: But we don't have to have headaches for having a headache something's up so you know, again, all of these things can be sense of burnout that's a physical sign.

Kenneth Vogt: Or perhaps what's happening in your case so you're finding that emotions are arising, that are getting in your way and you don't find to be.

Kenneth Vogt: helpful or positive like you're angry all the time and you're getting are you getting angry about things don't make sense to get angry about.

Kenneth Vogt: Are you getting angry in settings where it's not professional to be angry, you know so that might be a signal or your apathetic you just don't care.

Kenneth Vogt: And I promise you, if you get to the point that you are in your life, where you are a full time scientists in a highly educated one there's no way you've been an apathetic all your life not possible so that's happening that's a sign something.

Kenneth Vogt: You may be facing distress things things are upsetting you or or scaring you and he's like I don't know if you can you can feel that you can cope with it.

Kenneth Vogt: You don't know if you can take the pressure, these can be science of it or you're overwhelmed like there's just too much going on, I can I can do any one one of these 10 things but I can't do all 10 at once, you know might be out of your outlook, yes.

Kenneth Vogt: So that's that's in a way that burnout may show up emotionally and then mentally and mentally maybe the most scary one for somebody in your field.

Kenneth Vogt: If you feel like I can't think I used to be able to look at something and I just understand it now I can't wrap my head around it, or I can't focus it's like Okay, I could I could think about it, if I can give it to my attention but i've got so many things distracting me.

Kenneth Vogt: Or you becoming forgetful you're dropping the ball on things we didn't use drop the ball on and or, finally, you seem like you feel like you've lost your imagination it's like I just I just can't come up with a new anymore.

Kenneth Vogt: All of that stuff whether it's physical, emotional or mental can all be.

Kenneth Vogt: symptoms that show up about burnout and in can give you a clue that something is up So the first thing I want to say to you is if you've gone through all this and you have you have now self diagnosed holy cow I think i'm burned out don't be afraid.

Kenneth Vogt: it's not an insurmountable problem and it's funny because the nature of being burned out makes it.

Kenneth Vogt: It feel insurmountable it's it's just kind of it's kind of one of the characteristics, one of the way you miss ways, you know you're burned out is because you don't think you can get over over being burned out.

Kenneth Vogt: But that's that's not true that's that that is, that is just.

Kenneth Vogt: of subterfuge that it puts up.

Kenneth Vogt: So there are ways, there are ways to handle is now, I will say For those of you who have stuck around, even though you're not personally burned out.

Kenneth Vogt: I wanna I want to thank you for doing that and I want to point out to you something you can do, then you probably are already doing when it comes to burnout is to get in front of it.

Kenneth Vogt: You know the the the old saying is an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure and it's so true if you can look for signs that.

Kenneth Vogt: That might be leaving to burn out when you start to experience some of the things that we talked about earlier you start to recognize some of that stuff.

Kenneth Vogt: And you make, and you take steps, then to well i'm going to take a break i'm gonna i'm going to do something that will actually help, and you know.

Kenneth Vogt: For some folks there are there steps you're willing to take, and there are other steps you're just not I know for some folks if I suggest the notion of taking a nap.

Kenneth Vogt: They laugh and just push it away it's like all wouldn't that be great but i'm not three anymore, and they just won't consider they won't they won't even.

Kenneth Vogt: Consider the possibility that they could take a nap, let me tell you something, especially if you feel that way you need to take a nap.

Kenneth Vogt: But they're wonderful when it comes to that, and you know, sometimes we feel like we can't take a break, because we've looked at our schedule and you know it's it's too there's no spot in there, take a break and.

Kenneth Vogt: I saw this little meme that was floating around the other day that said that you know everyone should meditate for 20 minutes every day.

Kenneth Vogt: Unless you don't have time, in which case you should meditate for 60 minutes, every day, so it's the it's the same kind of thing.

Kenneth Vogt: You fit things in because they're important everything that's on your schedule got there because it was important, and if you start to realize that protecting yourself from getting burned out as important.

Kenneth Vogt: You will schedule time for you'll you'll make room for it.

Kenneth Vogt: And you start to recognize that this is a matter of taking care of yourself.

Kenneth Vogt: And at the end of the day, who was responsible for taking care of you, you know you're an adult now mommy's not going to take care of you it's you you're going to take care of you.

Kenneth Vogt: And if you're not going to go on to do it, you can't wait around for somebody else to do it, and you know this, you know romantic notions.

Kenneth Vogt: My significant other is going to take care of me well that's nice if they do, but you can't count on them to do that, you can't.

Kenneth Vogt: You can't make it their responsibility to put it that way you know if they if they're good enough to do that if they're that wonderful and compassionate person lovely.

Kenneth Vogt: But you ultimately have to be compassionate to yourself you've got to take care of you so now let's consider some ways that you might take care of you, there are some simple things you know and i've already mentioned what my favorite take a nap.

Kenneth Vogt: But you know it doesn't have to be you know get in bed and go to sleep yeah it can be just rest for a minute, maybe it's just sit down for a minute.

Kenneth Vogt: You know it's it's blocked on the couch it's get out of the lab and get into the into the you know the lounge.

Kenneth Vogt: Maybe it's sit outside on a park bench other things you could do is take a walk you know you you maybe your body needs to be moved maybe you've been stuck in one position too long.

Kenneth Vogt: So you know relieve your body that way and for some folks just taking a walk it's enough for other people.

Kenneth Vogt: Man, they need to go to the gym they need to hit the heavy bag, they need to get on the treadmill you know they need to get on the stairmaster.

Kenneth Vogt: You know yourself, you know your own body do the thing that will feel like you've taken care of yourself now if you feel great.

Kenneth Vogt: After getting out, you know, on a spin bike and and putting it on for 45 minutes and being drenched in sweat if that's something that gives gives you a feeling of feeling great afterwards by all means do that.

Kenneth Vogt: If you're somebody that just needs to take you know, a leisurely walk in the park and notice the birds and the trees, and that makes you feel good, well, by all means do that.

Kenneth Vogt: Not I mentioned that meme earlier about meditating and I realized that the word meditate set some people off, oh no, I want to give those of you that have a.

Kenneth Vogt: an aversion to the notion of meditation like wow that sounds all spiritual and air quotes and i'm i'm a realist i'm you know I I exist in the real world alright fair enough.

Kenneth Vogt: Let me give you a different word, and I think it's a word, you can probably get behind take time to contemplate contemplation is is peer to meditation and don't let your spiritual friends tell you it isn't.

Kenneth Vogt: If you can just take some time to think.

Kenneth Vogt: it's again, it can be very valuable and not it means you have to stop doing some other stuff you got to give yourself a chance.

Kenneth Vogt: To to be committed to to just contemplating and you know that kind of inflation might be focused on something specific.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, maybe you want to contemplate how you want to solve a particular problem, maybe you want to contemplate on a particular area of a new area that's of interest to you that that you don't feel you're up to data.

Kenneth Vogt: Great do that now contemplation contemplation is.

Kenneth Vogt: has had a great place in scientific history, you know you i'm sure you can come up with many stories, all the way back to like the theorists have moments of contemplation where people had insights so.

Nick Oswald: it's a moment.

Kenneth Vogt: yeah exactly.

Exactly good old Eureka.

Kenneth Vogt: So, so you know, by all means contemplate and and, by the way to you know what try out meditation sometime give it a shot it's it's you may find it is it can do things for you the contemplation doesn't.

Kenneth Vogt: or you may find that you know it's as good as contemplation it's you know it's not as bad as I thought it's not as whoo as I was concerned about.

Kenneth Vogt: So, again something to track now another thing you need to think about to take care of yourself is make sure you have proper meals, if you get so busy that you don't take time to stop and eat.

Kenneth Vogt: And I mean actually have a decent meal, I mean take time to run to the vending machine, you know and get some potato chips or candy bar.

Kenneth Vogt: And I don't mean well i've got as 10 minutes, so I got a wolf down a big MAC and Fries you know I mean an actual decent you know, nutritious meal.

Kenneth Vogt: Something that you will enjoy and take time with it and and meals, or something that in, especially in modern American culture, and I think just may be.

Kenneth Vogt: True in some places, unfortunately, still in Europe right say also in Europe that people don't don't take time to enjoy their meal and socialize during their meal.

Kenneth Vogt: Now granted, there are some places in Europe that are our famed for long meals, you know the Mediterranean area comes to mind especially.

Kenneth Vogt: where people are taking an hour and a half or two hours to have a meal and it's have they have it with conversation, and they have it with wine and.

Kenneth Vogt: And in the notion of the slow food movement that comes to mind it's a good idea, but you know, even if you don't go that that route, he maybe you don't have the opportunity to socialize during the meal it say it's lunchtime at work.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, sit down with your meal don't eat it at your desk at your bench get out of there get into the kitchen or go outside if that's a possibility, or you know.

Kenneth Vogt: Go someplace where you can dedicate yourself to being at the meal and to give yourself permission to be okay i'm doing this now.

Kenneth Vogt: i'm no longer thinking about what I was doing earlier i'm no longer doing what I was doing earlier i'm here to do this thing, which is to have a meal.

Kenneth Vogt: Which is good for my body gives my chanting myself a chance to have a mental rest.

Kenneth Vogt: And, and hopefully they have something that you enjoy and is is good for your body and nutritious and you know that you've taken a positive direction.

Kenneth Vogt: Now I realized that you know there's some food that is not good for you, that it's very enjoyable i'm looking at you chocolate truffles that are sitting right in front of me.

Kenneth Vogt: But you know and it's fine to have some of that in your life that you know don't don't make that the Center of everything don't make that everything you eat going again it'll just add to your burnout.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing to take take the nap thing to an extension is to sleep properly, and I say properly, I mean.

Kenneth Vogt: go to bed at a reasonable hour, so you can get up at a reasonable hour so that you're not rushed in the morning, when you get up.

Kenneth Vogt: And because you've slept enough, and you haven't overslept because your body is just screaming for more sleep or or you feel like I just I wasn't even bed I don't know why i'm getting up you know issue asleep as such a problem for people, these days, and it's so simple.

Kenneth Vogt: You know you used to be you used to be a champion and sleep you every kid you know yeah they they.

Kenneth Vogt: can give us some lessons and not asleep, especially little kids little kids and go to sleep on a moment's notice it's beautiful.

Kenneth Vogt: But sleep is such a important part of what we're doing, and if you've been going along burning the candle at both ends and you're getting three or four hours of sleep at night.

Kenneth Vogt: you're not going to last that now I realized, there are some folks out there, that really can have less sleep than others so i'm not i'm not trying to tell anybody.

Kenneth Vogt: What their sleep threshold, it should be, you have to know yourself but be honest with yourself and don't get stuck on being prideful about it, like.

Kenneth Vogt: You know if you're if you're proud of the fact that you can keep going on for our sleep.

Kenneth Vogt: that's kind of a sign that something's up it shouldn't be a matter of pride, it should be a matter of observation like well this body does time in four hours.

Kenneth Vogt: or six hours sleep or nine hours sleep, whatever it is, but notice, where it is and do that yeah and oversleep can be a problem, too, because you can.

Kenneth Vogt: You can get to the point where you don't get anything done because your own you never get out of bed, and again that is often a sign of somebody, that is, that is.

Kenneth Vogt: Is is having some kind of some kind of burnout so.

Kenneth Vogt: You know don't be afraid take notice of your sleep patterns and and act appropriately and again if you're finding you can't sleep.

Kenneth Vogt: Not maybe you do need to see a doctor about that are you finding you can't you can't be awake you know again you definitely need to see somebody about that you know so check into that.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing you can do, and this is a simple thing to do, and you can do it, you can do it at your bench i'm going to allow you to do this, the same time you're working.

Kenneth Vogt: Is drink water, make sure you drink enough water, and I mean water I don't mean caffeinated beverage I don't mean sugary beverage I don't mean aspartame beverage I mean water.

Nick Oswald: Just gonna i'm just gonna put in the public health.

Nick Oswald: notice to say don't like water at the bench to.

Nick Oswald: Put in your office you.

Nick Oswald: Can okay.

Kenneth Vogt: Oh yes, I understand that you're often dealing with liquids there that you don't want to confuse the rock one liquid for another, and not.

Nick Oswald: The bench no freedom.

Kenneth Vogt: Okay.

Kenneth Vogt: Fair enough, it, this is why we have Nick on here to to to.

Kenneth Vogt: To to check me out here on some of this stuff My point is is that make it readily available to yourself, so you know if.

Kenneth Vogt: I didn't know what you can describe this to me what would be What would it be a typical day at the bench Nick where were you were there, and you do not leave that bench for eight hours straight.

Nick Oswald: or no, no, no, no, he would.

Nick Oswald: nutshell breaks, that you would be a way and well, depending on the design of your lab but generally you have access to some sort of desk that says place where you can click or.

Kenneth Vogt: Okay, all right so yeah so so you have the opportunity to.

Kenneth Vogt: To just make sure again it just just take care, your body, because.

Kenneth Vogt: Again, if you're having physical signs of burnout it could just be the body's getting stressed, you know you may be mentally strong and emotionally stable.

Kenneth Vogt: But your body's getting burned up or you may find your emotionally being worn down or you may find that that mentally you being you're being beat up.

Kenneth Vogt: You know it all depends on your circumstances so you know you can.

Kenneth Vogt: Do these things to take care of yourself, and you know focus on the ones that are physical or emotional or mental as your needs are.

Kenneth Vogt: And and don't excuse yourself, because sometimes it's easy to do certain things like I don't really physically burned out but I like to sleep so i'm going to listen to that well.

Kenneth Vogt: But the real burnouts happening for you mentally well then getting things get engaged in that area, you know and look at it differently.

Kenneth Vogt: So some other things to engage on so let's talk about that this is a big one, learn to say no.

Kenneth Vogt: Especially if you're finding that you're you're emotionally burned out or or mentally burned up a lot of times it comes down to its its emotions, you could handle or a mental load you could handle if there wasn't so much of it it's it it's.

Kenneth Vogt: You got to recognize there there's no meaning to saying no it's just saying that that's not possible right now it's not saying I don't care about you it's not saying I don't respect you.

Kenneth Vogt: it's it's not saying I, you know that.

Kenneth Vogt: it's it's not saying that I don't have fellow feeling.

Kenneth Vogt: All it's saying is that I don't have the capacity, right now, and that capacity doesn't doesn't represent your goodness or your worth it's just a reality what's going on now perhaps in a situation where you have to say no, it requires an explanation.

Kenneth Vogt: And I say, perhaps because it doesn't always you don't have to give everybody a reason.

Kenneth Vogt: If every time you talk about you know somebody says hey can you do X and your common way to approach it is is sick I can't be cars.

Kenneth Vogt: And you always have to have that because, or you can say no well i'm going to ask you to take because out of your vocabulary for a day and see what you do.

Kenneth Vogt: You got to learn to deal, without it, you don't have to give explanations for everything.

Kenneth Vogt: Now now i'll grant you that sometimes you know your boss requires an explanation, perhaps you got to do that or.

Kenneth Vogt: or your lab meet requires an explanation or or a client or customer requires an explanation, well, I mean yeah you got to respect that, but there are many cases where.

Kenneth Vogt: there's, no, no reason anybody has to be told why they don't need to know what else you're doing and, in fact, in some cases it's none of their business, what else you're doing.

Kenneth Vogt: So you know you gotta you gotta remove yourself from that and you're going to find when you when you get rid of that requirement for because know becomes a lot easier.

Kenneth Vogt: Maybe you just have this inkling that I can't do this and you can't quite put an explanation to it or put it into words.

Kenneth Vogt: Well, if you're in a situation where you have to give up, because in your own mind you're not going to say no, no situations, even though you've got a hunch you've got an intuition, that you should say no.

Kenneth Vogt: Well hunches and intuitions are very, very important in the scientific world and you got to listen to them and if you got one it's telling you to say no right now.

Kenneth Vogt: You got to say it's one of the ways that you're gonna you're going to avoid burnout and this one of the ways you're going to protect yourself you're already feeling that.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing you can do is to unplug when I say unplug I mean you know if if you're someone that works all day.

Kenneth Vogt: And then you go home and you read scientific journals and unwind you watch nobody on TV, you know, at some point you gotta you gotta step out of it all.

Kenneth Vogt: You know you got to do something that's just pleasurable and you know if that means watching watching some sports or that means listening to a symphony or that means.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, going to a concert or or you know, having a beer or or any anything that is outside of your normal, this is what a scientist does as a scientist give yourself a chance to be more than just a scientist, you are more than just a scientist is wonderful, as it is to be that.

Kenneth Vogt: There are other things to be to and do those things you know it's it's good for you to play candyland with the kids it's good for you to take a moment with your.

Kenneth Vogt: Significant other to watch the sunset and it's good for you to open up a novel that you're reading for guilty pleasure.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, do those things they they ultimately you're going to feed back they even giving you a more sound mental state.

Kenneth Vogt: And you're going to find you're going to be able to think better after that you're going to find you're going to.

Kenneth Vogt: That you're going to be less likely to run off emotionally, you know there's nothing wrong with being emotional we're humans.

Kenneth Vogt: it's what's, the problem is when you should when emotions take over and and when they run a muck you know it's if you have a where you can't you just can't even control.

Kenneth Vogt: how you feel controls, not the right word I want to see you sometimes we don't control how we feel there's nothing wrong with that, but if you find that your emotions are constantly running away with you, then, you know that can really get in the way.

Kenneth Vogt: So unplugging can help you get more of a grip on it.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing to think about.

Kenneth Vogt: When it comes to burnout you may realize that you know I wouldn't feel burned out if this person and this person and this person weren't in my life.

Kenneth Vogt: And that might be people you work with they may be, you know what I wouldn't feel burned out if it wasn't for this p-i who is making my life miserable, for I wouldn't feel burned out if it wasn't for this person at the next bench who's constantly causing problems in our lab.

Kenneth Vogt: Or it might be that you know if I wasn't constantly getting calls from you know my my childhood best friend about how much of a wreck his life is and.

Kenneth Vogt: And how much he needs my help and you need it needs me to help him move again and he needs me to come, have a beer with him and he needs me to listen to his problem.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, you may you start to realize that there are some people that are costing and they might be in your professional life, they might be in your personal life.

Kenneth Vogt: and your professional life, you can look at that and go well, is there a way for me to get away from it, and you know it might mean making some changes in.

Kenneth Vogt: In your work life, now sometimes they're radical changes, maybe you need to quit your job and find a different one or maybe it's just I need to get reassigned you know, to get away from this person.

Kenneth Vogt: And you know take those steps and you may find that that's enough that is enough to get you out of the burnout that you're feeling.

Kenneth Vogt: Now, another thing when it comes to associates, you have some associates around you there's nothing wrong with them at all.

Kenneth Vogt: But the problem is that you're constantly comparing yourself to them and they're so great and they're so wonderful and i'm such a loser, and I can't keep up and that is creating constant strain for you.

Kenneth Vogt: Now, you may be fortunate enough to work with some really amazing people and perhaps you're not their peer.

Kenneth Vogt: there's no shame in that you don't have to be the greatest to ever was at everything.

Kenneth Vogt: And if you happen to have the good fortune of being in the company some of those people, by all means be around them learn from them gain from their from their mentorship and their experience.

Kenneth Vogt: But don't compare yourself to them, not in such a way that you're going to drag yourself down and where you're trying to keep up with something you just can't keep up with.

Kenneth Vogt: I remember back in second grade school and there was one kid in class I don't know why use just views bigger than me quite a bit bigger than actually.

Kenneth Vogt: But he can really run long distance and so in gym class, we were going to run a mile and I got it in my head, I know how i'm going to run a mile i'm just going to keep up with Greg that's going to be it i'll be able to run I run a great mile just keep it up with Greg.

Kenneth Vogt: Well, that lasted about a 10th of a mile I couldn't keep up with Greg.

Kenneth Vogt: He was a good long distance runner already in sixth grade you know, and I was, I was you know six inches shorter than most of most of the boys my age.

Kenneth Vogt: yeah I wasn't gonna keep up with anybody that was going to happen it didn't matter that I, you know I wasn't overweight or anything but I didn't have that long distance kind of thing I would I was in a bill for that, at that time.

Kenneth Vogt: So you know it's it's the same way with this when we look at the people around us don't make comparisons and and you know, some people really are better than us.

Kenneth Vogt: At one at one thing or another it's nothing wrong with that that doesn't make them a better human being.

Kenneth Vogt: doesn't mean they're more but that they're more worthy to be alive than you they're just they're just they're there and they're doing their thing, and they should do their thing.

Kenneth Vogt: But you should do your thing, and you may be better at other things, maybe some other things that aren't as as.

Kenneth Vogt: Economically valued or maybe not as not as publicly praised, but you know, do the things that you're good at and and.

Kenneth Vogt: And don't put yourself down for the fact that you're not good at certain things now that's, not to say that you shouldn't make an effort to better yourself and improve in areas where you're weak and that's fine but.

Kenneth Vogt: don't beat yourself up about the present state you're in to the point where you're burning out because it will help you're not going to get better at it, if you burn out so you got to get yourself get your head in the right space on that.

Kenneth Vogt: Other thing you can do is you can get yourself some some outside interests were you doing things different than what you do in the lab now maybe what you do in the lab actually is pretty physical and you do a lot of hands on kind of stuff.

Kenneth Vogt: But maybe not maybe maybe your work is a lot more intellectual and what you do well, maybe then it would be good for you to have some kind of physical outside interests something where you're.

Kenneth Vogt: Using your hands and whether that's putting in a garden or working on your car or or you know or something physical in that regard, you know building the shed in the back that's great.

Kenneth Vogt: Use your hands and to again give yourself just a different kind of outlook.

Kenneth Vogt: Another thing you can do is use your mind not and I know you're all using your minds for your work, but but you're using them in a certain certain kind of way.

Kenneth Vogt: Maybe you need to use your mind in a different way to give yourself a bit of a break, and maybe that's while you're not you know i'm gonna do i'm going to go back and i'm going to read reread all of William Shakespeare.

Kenneth Vogt: That a doubt, would be a great way to use my mind or i'm gonna i'm going to really get into this interesting area, that is, you know outside of my work area i'm very interested in plant pathology cuz cuz I like gardening.

Kenneth Vogt: But i'm not a scientist.

Kenneth Vogt: So you know it's a good thing for me to look at, but that doesn't that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be a good thing for you to look at me you're.

Kenneth Vogt: you're working on animals all day long maybe looking at plants to be a good thing for you something different to do with your mind and maybe it's a matter of doing puzzles reading reading mysteries and to figure out what's what you know.

Kenneth Vogt: Especially if you can go back to like classical ministries like you know Raymond Chandler you know the the Nawaz ton of stuff you know again just some suggestion just some ideas and, finally, you can use your heart, and it may be that you're you know you're not engaged in.

Kenneth Vogt: Anything that really involves much compassion or giving as far as work goes well, maybe you do want to volunteer somewhere and do something like that.

Kenneth Vogt: Maybe you want to get more involved in art or music, you know something where you're where you know it's more than just imagination now now you're seeking beauty and you're looking for for something beyond just the technical or the or you know ways to check the boxes.

Kenneth Vogt: Again anytime you add some stuff in, and I know it sounds like when you're burned out add in that sounds crazy well no it's the way to go.

Kenneth Vogt: If because it may be you're burning up because you're missing something not so much because you have too much on your plate but there's something missing.

Kenneth Vogt: So in you're going to know when there's something missing you're gonna you're going to know when you feel that like man.

Kenneth Vogt: I I wish I know some a lot of folks i've known that they play instruments they've learned to play piano or guitar violin or whatever in their past, but you asked them and they tell you that they they're not a musician they don't play anything.

Kenneth Vogt: When actually they do, maybe they need to re engage with it and you might know and it's possible some folks have.

Kenneth Vogt: Negative memories like I hated piano lessons yeah but you know what Well now, and you're not being forced to do it, you may find it's a lot different.

Kenneth Vogt: But I found something that happened to me at one point I you know i've been so involved in technical or convince all involved in mathematics and computer science.

Kenneth Vogt: That I haven't really been engaged in in English literature, so I went back and I read read Charles Dickens and all I remembered as I hated Charles Dickens when I was forced to read it.

Kenneth Vogt: When I read it, when I wanted to I just thought it was delightful and after that I thought, why would I reread Shakespeare good because maybe I got the wrong.

Kenneth Vogt: wrong path on that too, and I sure did I had a great time with that and.

Kenneth Vogt: You know so you're going to know when and what what the right thing is for you, so you know figure out what it is that you can do that's outside of.

Kenneth Vogt: Your scientific interest and any of that can help you then to deal with any burnout in your face, so all these ideas being said i'll throw it back to you, Nick is there anything you'd like to to add or any questions you'd like to pose.

Nick Oswald: I just would like the money, money this up with my.

Nick Oswald: What again as normal what i've seen her own me or what i've done myself as a scientist and and I think that you know what you're kind of talking about as.

Nick Oswald: You know burn right is you could kind of summarize up by saying you kind of pull yourself too far in one direction, and to the point where you snap, if you like, yeah and a lot of that comes from, I think, anyway, that we.

Nick Oswald: You know if you're if you're a researcher in the lab by definition you're some level of high achiever you kind of push.

Nick Oswald: yourself and that can go or you can take that too far, because you know you prize, the achievement over looking after yourself.

Nick Oswald: Or you right, you know you burn yourself to get the achievement kind of thing and and actually and you touched on this can is that.

Nick Oswald: As well as that kind of over that pushing yourself too hard, can kind of in some environments can become kind of a badge of honor.

Nick Oswald: i've seen that in science, where it's like you know I didn't have time to eat dinner, and I just went and got something from the vending machine and i've done that every night this week and and so on, and you know, and so I think that these kind of.

Nick Oswald: environments like you know, scientific research being one of them are you're right for people burning out.

Nick Oswald: And from from that perspective and another thing you know other things that feed into that are you know the whole badges of honor about.

Nick Oswald: We drink so much coffee to keep us going to have caffeine just keeps amping it up and you don't get enough sleep then you're creating cycles for yourself that are on healthy.

Nick Oswald: And you know, the only they all feed into each other to just be create a spiral everett and heal the body burn out to me feels like a spiral I have experienced that myself.

Nick Oswald: It feels like a spiral where everything gets faster and faster and faster everything moves in smaller and smaller circles, if you like, you know, like the spiral, and so the further you get the spiral you get the harder it is to get out of that pattern, and it tends to intensify and.

Nick Oswald: And everyone has a breaking point and.

Nick Oswald: You know me I know mine I know where okay now if I continue this another two weeks i'm going to break, so I need to stop.

Nick Oswald: And, but that's only from having done it as best to stay away from it, if you can, but I think it's as the important thing to realize, is that you do have a breaking point you're not superhuman you can't keep going at this.

Nick Oswald: You can't keep burning the candle at both ends, you know, as you know well that's the more time based thing, but you can't you can't keep abusing yourself like this and and get away with it forever.

Nick Oswald: And you know i've seen a lot of people burn out like that, and then this whole another thing that you know that adds on to that is you touched on the idea of.

Nick Oswald: meditation you know, a while I don't do that i'm a fact based person that's fine, why not contemplate then you're thinking tick why don't take it one step back, why not just give your brain a rest for a while.

Nick Oswald: yeah right give your brain arrest give your body some exercise give your body some good nutrition give your body some sleep give yourself some space, you know those are things that take you back down the spiral, and they feel like because they feel like you're slowing down your.

Nick Oswald: High achiever nature does doesn't want you to do that, but that is that slowing down thing or that reversing the you know the The spiral is what you need to do to be able to balance.

Nick Oswald: You know, pushing on pushing forward trying to achieve and not reaching the barnett point you've got to give yourself to unwind other.

Nick Oswald: Things isn't it, but I think that spinal idea as a you know, the idea of thinking of it as a spiral is really helps me because it feels like I don't want to slow down, I have things to do it yeah but you need to go back to give yourself some space to go forward again, if you like.


Kenneth Vogt: So I was thinking there's there's three states people might find themselves in, maybe you're relatively young and you've never burned out but you're really scared that you will one day.

Kenneth Vogt: And by the way you shouldn't be scared of that it's not a good experience, maybe you're somebody that has burned out more than once, but the problem is is the pattern keeps showing up again, you can't seem to stop it yeah now that that ought to be even more scary.

Kenneth Vogt: But maybe you're somebody you know, like like Nick has described and like i've described and we both burned up before and we got through it.

Kenneth Vogt: And, and we found out how to how to deal with it and it's like I was saying, at the beginning of this.

Kenneth Vogt: You know i've been through i've been through a really terrible personal experience and it didn't result in burnout because.

Kenneth Vogt: i've got all this other stuff in place, you know i'm I know how to keep from burning out these days and and it and it really worked in a in a really trying situation, so I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone.

Nick Oswald: The interesting thing about your situation can you know that it's a physical injury.

Nick Oswald: can have, and you know lends itself really well to look.

Nick Oswald: At as you've had to put in moments moments, you have to put in stretches of.

Nick Oswald: Real exemption to get yourself physically back into.

Nick Oswald: into operation.

Nick Oswald: Operation ability.

Nick Oswald: So you've had to really you know you've had to put in really physical effort to do that and it's been exhausting and so on, but you if you there's only so much of that your body can take.

Nick Oswald: Before you literally exhaust the body, so you have to give it a rest which you've done.

Nick Oswald: You have to give it via properly, which have done, and again it comes back to actually.

Nick Oswald: That what we're doing as the high achievers you know we will be the greatest scientists in the universe, by being tries the hardest what we're doing is we're abusing the brain and the way we would never abused the body.

Nick Oswald: Because the body would break down for earlier, the body would be done more quickly or more more visibly you would be exhausted and and it's paying attention to the to the brain and what that you know that that is a.

Kenneth Vogt: and

Nick Oswald: In the same way as your body as an instrument that needs needs reisman needs care and.

Nick Oswald: If you take care of it, then it will give you a lot of service, but if you just keep pushing in one direction, the same way as you that if you've done physical therapy constantly for a month we're back in the beginning, that you would never have been able to do anyway, but you would.

Nick Oswald: You would have broken down so.


Kenneth Vogt: yeah and I watched people do that because you know it's funny they grew up with other people have the same kind of problems, I guess, they think that's going to help her out it's easier for them to take area.

Kenneth Vogt: But I saw some people that just some people just gave up and other people, just like that's it i'm going to beat this and they and in the above destroyed themselves trying to overcome it.


Kenneth Vogt: that's interesting.

Nick Oswald: Sometimes, our own worst enemies, but in a lot of ways, this is what this is all about this.


Kenneth Vogt: Exactly.

Kenneth Vogt: I love that they're all these all these high achievers out there, and these people with.

Kenneth Vogt: You know, great positive expectations for what they can accomplish in the world, great now and for this other folks here to that I know are.

Kenneth Vogt: They like you know what i'm just i'm going to motor along and do what I do, and if I change the world great and if I don't I don't yeah.

Kenneth Vogt: that's fine, but you know, we want to help you be better to we want you to help be more satisfied with with your career and in and with your accomplishment so.

Kenneth Vogt: it's a great opportunity, and we don't want to see buddy burnout it's no fun.

Kenneth Vogt: But if.

Kenneth Vogt: If you have to experience it we want to help you get through it.

Nick Oswald: yeah listen to ken's tips and the show notes on this.

Nick Oswald: On.

Nick Oswald: On the on bite sized Bible COM forward slash to happy scientist episode 43 I think it says.

Nick Oswald: And you will get a list of the, what are the symptoms of burnout the you know the ones that can describe there and then some of the things that you can do about it.

Nick Oswald: But the general rule of thumb is just going the opposite direction of what is bothering you slow down look after yourself take time out inject some enjoyment or not inject some enjoyment and I thought it sounds like something different right.

Kenneth Vogt: and

Nick Oswald: get some enjoyment into your life and and so on.

Kenneth Vogt: supplements yourself.


Nick Oswald: What it's about it's about as bad as telling someone to drink at the bench but there we go.

Nick Oswald: Okay, so that takes us to the end of yet another amazing episode, and that was a meteor one and one that I think a lot of people will find beneficial.

Nick Oswald: Again, you might want to this is a probably one of those good episodes to.

Nick Oswald: remind you to go back to episode one to nine if you haven't done so already or even if you have done so now if you've read a few of you listen to a few more podcasts.

Nick Oswald: Going back to episodes 129 those foundational principles will potentially the little bit different to you know if you've if you've listened to a few episodes either way think consider going back to look at those episodes 129 and there will be some.

Nick Oswald: Some benefit to you, I think, regardless of what stage you're at here beginner or you've been with us for a while.

Nick Oswald: And the only other thing to mention is to come and visit forward slash the happy scientist club, like us, like the page rather and you'll get.

Nick Oswald: you'll be kept in the loop about new episodes and other things that are going on, so again Ken, thank you for for a great episode.

Nick Oswald: stay in in healthy shape and again next time.

Kenneth Vogt: Okay, very good.

How to Deal with Burnout