Tag Archives: burnout

Keeping the “general” in your body happy

liver_energyA healthy liver is not only crucial in detoxing our body and staying fit and healthy, it influences strongly our mood, enthusiasm and the joyfulness of being in there here-and-now.

In Chinese medicine the liver is often compared to the strategic general at the head of an army, utilising the power of body and mind to keep us in a state of equilibrium.

The liver is an amazing organ, dealing with hundreds of tasks and working overtime in dealing with carcinogenic materials and other toxins that bombard the body. One of its primary functions is the storage of blood and regulating the flow of blood to the circulatory system in accordance with our physical activities. When the body is resting the blood is kept in “storage” for the next phase of activity.

In addition the liver controls the activity of muscles, tendons and bands, ensuring a smooth interaction of joint and muscle movement. When we speak of a low level of “liver blood” in the body this is reflected on tendons becoming stiff and inflexible, causing stiff body movement and joint pains. We literally can’t move to do the things we want to do.

But there is much more that comes to play on an emotional and psychological level. In my book Yield and Overcome I go into more detail on how the body organs are related to elements and cyclical seasonal influences. On a subtle level the liver is home to the ethereal soul, that continues to exist after death. It is about transmuting the challenges we are faced with in this world and following our true calling or soul path. As we grow spiritually we bring a little of “heaven to earth”.

When the ethereal soul becomes separated from its “physical home” it loses connection to its true destiny and meaning in life. We lose sense of direction and being in the here and now. When plans and visions start failing or when we are forced to do things we find to be meaningless, we either start feeling depressed, listless and low on energy or have bouts of anger and resentment. We blow our lid at the smallest irritation.

When we see a person following his or her calling watch the glow and enthusiasm in their eyes. The liver expresses itself in the eyes. In the same way a diseased liver or one that is out of balance will show in the “grey” of the “living dead”.

The good news is that the liver has an enormous capacity to regenerate itself. Dr. Max Gerson, MD ( 1881-1959) assumed it would take 12 to 15 generations of new cells to form a totally new and healthy liver. He specified a period of about 18 months to fully heal and restore the liver of advanced cancer patients. However experts believe that the amount of toxins the human body has to cope with today will require a longer period of two years or more.

So in our modern world the liver energy is confronted with on the one hand the many distractions on a mental plane while at the same time having to deal with major challenges on a physical level.

Some questions that arise in connection with the liver energy are:

  • How do I feel when I get up in the morning? Am I joyful or depressed?
  • Have I found my place in the bigger picture of things?
  • Do I really enjoy my work?
  • Where do I really feel at home?
  • Where is my energy or enthusiasm blocked?
  • Am I feeling constantly tired and listless?
  • Do I have a problem with anger management?

Apart from liver-cleansing nutrition there are various good methods of bringing your liver energy back into flow, but more on that in my next blog

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Alarming rate of high-professionals addicted to substance abuse

substance abuse

An alarming rate of doctors, lawyers, bankers, film stars and other high professionals seem to be functioning only by substance and alcohol abuse. While alcohol is the more common, there seems to be a large group of people addicted to substances available at the chemist around the corner or by mail order through the internet.

Most of these substances give a short-term energy boost but cause havoc with your health on the long-term and could even shorten your life.

Lately, I have come across several people in high-powered jobs admitting to taking a sleeping pill every night. The short-term effect is a good nights rest, especially if you have to be alert the next day and have to take important boardroom decisions. But it is important to understand the long-term health effects of these sedatives which are potentially addictive.

Several long-term studies have been conducted on the effects of sleeping pills. One of them is by Daniel F. Kripke. M.D. (The Dark Side of Sleepinig Pills) also available as an eBook.

Kripke refers to the life-shortening effects of common sleeping pills such as zolpidem (e.g., Ambien), temazepam (e.g., Restoril), eszopiclone (e.g., Lunesta), zaleplon (e.g., Sonata), other benzodiazepines such as triazolam (e.g., Halcion) and flurazepam (e.g., Dalmane), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl).

A whole industry is thriving on the mass consumption of energy pills, caffeine boosters and other chemical cocktails as a growing number of high-professionals and executives resort to such short-term relief to overcome chronic fatigue. The manufacturers claim that their energy boosters are non-addictive and safe but the truth is quite the opposite.

Most of these supplements provide short-term relief with an energy-high. Eventually, the effects wear off, often resulting what is called a “crash.” with individuals experiencing even more exhaustion, negative mood swings, lack of concentration, irrational decision-making, depression or a chronic headache. The cycles between the “high” and the “crash” become shorter and shorter.

Many energy supplements have been found to speed up the metabolism and to influence the production of adrenaline in the body, which might already be at a high level because of stress. Long-term effects are high blood pressure with the added risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Some experts even claim that the banking crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of the many bankers in the City of London addicted to cocaine.

In our consumerist world our mindset is to want a quick-fix if something goes wrong with the body or mind. Dysfunctional lifestyles inevitably lead to a physical and mental “crash”. Most of our modern diseases and mental health problems are caused by lack of exercise, poor nutrition and high emotional stress levels.

It is possible to lead a highly successful and healthy life by investing just a little time and energy in your own health. Have a look at my blogs on the best weapons against stress and the 7 simple ways of boosting your energy levels by safe and natural means.

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How happy are you in your job?

Some time ago an employee of Burger King in Ohio, U.S., posted a picture of himself on the net stomping with his shoes on lettuce, adding the words:This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King”. 

The employee was tracked down and fired but the harm had been done. Burger King probably lost a fortune in lost customers as a result. It is an extreme case but it demonstrates what harm dissatisfied employees can do to a company.

A recent survey conducted by Gallup in Germany revealed that 67 per cent of employees in the country were just doing the minimum amount of work required, which means that most of them are present at the workplace but not really much more. Only 16 per cent felt they could identify with their company and its goals.

You could argue that they are a pretty thankless lot bearing in mind that many southern Europeans are without a job. However it reveals a deeper problem and doesn’t only affect the employee at Burger King.

Clergymen, self-employed medical doctors and social workers are among the professionals most affected by burnout. The place where we spend most of our “life-time” is supposed to provide the money we need for a living, give us the feeling that we are doing something meaningful and make us happy.

But a job we once chose out of passion and idealism may have changed so dramatically that we fail to realise that it no longer conforms to our inner value system.

The inner stress of spending much of your “life-time” doing something you no longer enjoy doing is going to make you ill on the long run. I started my career in journalism in the late 1970s in South Africa. I spent much of my day in court rooms, fire stations, at crime scenes or at social or political events. Gradually I built up a network of people (“sources”) who gladly passed on information about some local scandal or event. Most of the day was spent inter-acting with people. Most newspapermen from the English language press in South Africa at the time were highly critical of the apartheid government. Within the limitations of press restrictions there was much reporting on the human rights abuses. Most of all we had the feeling that we were doing something meaningful to make our world a better place. These early years in journalism were enormously fulfilling. Its a far cry from what it is today. The media industry has been hit by massive staff cutbacks and drop in revenue. I left my job with a news agency in frustration faced by the prospect of spending most of my day in front of a computer screen regurgitating news from other media sources in a newsroom with several hundred other – “mostly frustrated” – people.

I’ve heard some real horror stories from medical doctors. Hospital and health care structures have become so dysfunctional that doctors and nurses have very little time, if at all, to actually hear out the needs of patients. Instead of “helping people” social workers and church pastors are caught in the tentacles of bureaucracy.

So every now and then it might be worth spending some “life-time” minutes to reflect on whether I still enjoy doing the job I’m doing:


  • Am I happy getting up in the morning to go to work?
  • Does my job provide room for expression and freedom to use all my talents?
  • Am I exhausted after getting home from work or do I still have enough energy to visit friends and family?
  • Do I have to keep on motivating myself month after month, year after year that I’m in the right job doing the right thing?
  • Do I view my workplace mainly negatively and am I surrounded by cynical or negative colleagues?
  • What were the decisive factors that made me choose a specific career? Do these factors still apply today?

Once you reach the stage where you start counting the months and years to retirement you need to seriously ask yourself whether you want to spend precious “life-time” at the place where you’re currently at. Life has so many choices and possibilities. You would not one day want to be sitting in a rocking chair in an old age home full of regrets, mulling over the question:

Why did I not make that change which would have given my life a completely new direction.”

Book: Yield and Overcome: How change can positively impact our lives






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Are we all in stress overload?

The fast-paced rhythm of modern life with all its ups and downs, often gives us the feeling that its too much and that we are really stressed-out. Hardly a day goes by at the workplace without people complaining that they have a “stress overload”. But is stress all bad?


In principle stress the stress reaction in our bodies is part of our survival mechanism that dates back to the dawn of mankind. The early hunter on the plains of Africa meets a predator. A flood of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are released, causing an increase in blood pressure, the heart to pound faster, muscles to contract . All senses are put on alert. We are focused completely on confronting the danger ahead. “Where is the next tree? Do I run or use all my additional strength to throw my spear at the predator?”

 We might feel the same kind of “rushed” energy and focused attention when we are busy doing something we enjoy. Time seems of no relevance. We are in flow with what we are doing and the additional adrenalin gives us that extra push. This is the “stage fright” that most actors, singers or sports stars go through before giving an immaculate performance.

 The problem starts when stress gets out of control. When our body is more or less permanently flooded with stress hormones. We are practically confronting a predator for many days, weeks and even years. The long-term health effects are disastrous with every system in the body affected from high blood pressure, poor libido and even rewiring of brain functions that can cause severe fear and depression symptoms.

 Its all about finding the right balance between what we call the yin and yang.

 One part of the Taiji body art principles is finding the balance between muscles contracting and expanding, inhaling and exhaling, vertical and horizontal alignment, internal and external flow. These gentle movements are ideally suited to bring stress under control.

 So when do I know that I have too much stress and need to wind down?

 This differs from person to person. What one person might shake off and forget immediately another person might carry around for days severly stressing him/her emotionally – the worst kind of stress. Much is dependent on the personality. Are you an outgoing, joyful person at heart with a big family and support network? Or are you a pessimist. Can you deal with setbacks? How do you catch yourself again? What gives you strength and energy?

 The “collective burnout syndrome” we are seeing around us in essence means that something is out of balance, that there is too much yang – too much physical energy, thoughts, distractions, over indulgence spent on things that are harming us. We need more yin to bring that in balance such as meditation, stillness, the ability to be completely alone with ourselves, the ability to downsize and to abstain – seeing the beauty and abundance in small things. Now we can’t all go and escape into a monastery. We have family and other obligations. The challenge is to find that balance in our everyday lives. Here are just a few ways of getting quick stress relief:

 Get out into nature: Taking a short break for a walk in the park just listening to the birds and awakening the senses to smell, sight and sound will do a lot. Nearly all great teachers, leaders and philosophers from varied cultures and traditions have been strengthened by alone time in nature.


 Thought control: Most chronic stress comes from an emotional disconnection from the world outside and our own needs. This, scientists have recently discovered, has a lot to do with the effects of stress on the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Taking a different perspective and just accepting that life has ups- and downs will help. Meditation exercises can really help.

 Physical exercise and nutrition: Even mild regular exercise will release pent-up pressure and tension. Reduce your white sugar and salt intake and feed your body with fresh organic foods with lots of Omega 3 and 6 nutrients. See also my blog on foods.


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