Have you ever called out of work sick with a stomach ache so you could relax at home, only to find yourself with a stomach ache later? Or have you ever achieved a physical milestone, like doing three pull-ups instead of two, because you told yourself you could? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Your mind is a powerful tool that has the ability to conjure experiences out of pure thought. Those thoughts trigger neurochemical releases in your brain that activate specific hormones in your body and create a whole-body experience simply by directing the pictures you create in your mind.

Studies show that stress affects the autonomic nervous system, and is a massive contributing factor to burnout. While the literature on burnout is growing and doctors are learning more about how to properly treat it, there are things you can do to prevent and recover from burnout. The key here is in monitoring, moderating, and managing your stress levels through mindfulness techniques that allow your mind to do what it does best: influence your emotional state and more efficiently process stress.

Burnout is related to how you deal with stressors. In order to reduce the effects of burnout, you have to understand how your mindset affects your body, as well as develop a process for cultivating an empowered mindset to better process stress. Here’s how.

Cultivating your mindset

When you’re set on accomplishing your goals, you have to build the ability to recognize your limits, boundaries, and needs. Since one of the leading causes of stress is having your needs unmet, it’s important to start there so that you can decipher what stressors are at work in your life. With this self-knowledge, you’re able to recognize what your needs are and how you can meet them, giving you the ability to calibrate what can increase or decrease your stressors. 

For example, if you’ve been working hard for months on end and your productivity is suffering as a result, you likely need a break. By recognizing this early enough, you can communicate with your supervisor or team that you need some time off. You can also approach with the specific support that you need to get back on track. There’s immense power in developing the ability to communicate your needs to others because it puts you in the driver’s seat of your life, allowing you to feel more in control.

Once you understand your needs and how to communicate them, taking action and getting support that will reduce your stress levels becomes easier. You can then take more responsibility for your behavior, thoughts, and results, for a stronger sense of self-actualization which is an important step in creating a healthy, empowered mindset. Which, according to studies, feeling empowered and having an active role in decision making was shown to reduce burnout.

Perception influences experience

Perception and mindset are linked. Perception is the way you see yourself and the world around you. It filters your experiences and feeds the data to your mind. Your mindset then colors in the beliefs you have about your perception. They work together to give you a better understanding of how you function in your world. This is especially powerful when it comes to how you process stress.

How you perceive your health has a direct correlation with how you experience your health. This shows up clearly in a study conducted by Stanford scholars, where people who believed that they were less active than their peers were 71% more likely to die—regardless of the person’s actual activity levels. Now imagine using that same power to perceive that your body is healing, that you’re getting more rested sleep than your peers, that you’re less stressed than your peers, or that you have more energy than your peers. 

By altering your perception and mindset in your favor, combined with empowering yourself to get your needs met, you give your mind and body the opportunity to reduce and fight the effects of burnout because you now have stronger tools to process stress.