The Mental Tricks Laurie Hernandez Uses to Summon Crazy Confidence + MORE

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The Reason You’re Burned Out at Work May Surprise You

– www.health.com

Workplace burnout has a lot of different causes: long commutes, horrible bosses, unrealistic expectations, the list goes on and on. But a new study suggests that one significant source of job stress isn’t necessarily a part of the job itself—it’s how mismatched your responsibilities are with your personality.

This may seem obvious. After all, why would anyone take a job that doesn’t suit her personality? But according to study author Veronika Brandstätter, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, it happens quite often. The problem is, she says, people can have perceived notions of themselves that don’t match up with their true, “unconscious needs.”

“People often choose a job because it fits their ‘conscious’ motives that are formed by social norms and expectations of others,” Brandstätter says. “For example, an individual with the self-concept of being a person of influence might choose a career as a manager, though the activities associated with a manager’s job do not provide the real affective satisfaction.”

So Brandstätter and her colleagues performed a study to see how people’s implicit motives affected their overall mental health in various workplace environments. They recruited 97 adults from a Swiss website for people suffering from burnout, asked them questions about their health and job responsibilities, and then gave them a writing exercise to tease out parts of their personality they wouldn't necessarily report themselves.

RELATED: 7 Subtle Signs You're Burned Out

The researchers focused on two important traits: the “power motive” and the “affiliation motive.” People who have a strong power motive have a need to take responsibility for others, maintain discipline, and engage in arguments or negotiation, they wrote. Those with an affiliation motive crave positive personal relationships, and want to feel trust, warmth, and belonging.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that burnout happened across all types of jobs—those with lots of power, those with no power at all, those that offered plenty of opportunity to interact with others, and those that didn’t. In other words, the main predictor of burnout was not one single thing, but the discrepancy between the job and a person's implicit motives. 

The greater the mismatch, the higher the burnout risk. Mismatches pertaining to the power motive—how much oversight and influence a person desired versus how much they actually got—were even linked to an increase in physical symptoms like headache, chest pain, faintness, and shortness of breath.

"We found that the frustration of unconscious affective needs, caused by a lack of opportunities for motive-driven behavior, is detrimental to psychological and physical well-being,” Brandstätter says…

How ChiRunning Can Turn You Into a Faster, More Efficient Runner

– health.com

You've heard a million times that you should relax more; that loosening up a little bit could do wonders for your health. Turns out, it can also make you a better runner. 

Relaxing your body is a main tenet of ChiRunning, a technique that incorporates principles of T'ai Chi to make your stride feel more fluid and less strenuous—and help you avoid injury. "It'll change your perspective on running," says senior instructor Maurice Wills. 

One of the keys is tweaking your form so the impact from running is gentler on your body. Many people land on their heels. "But when you do that, you absorb three to five times your body weight," says Wills, who co-owns a triathlon training facility called Infinity Multisport in Chicago. The shock travels up your legs, putting you at a greater risk of injury.

With ChiRunning, you aim for a mid-foot strike, with "a relaxed, floppy foot," says Wills. Ideally your feet should land directly under or slightly behind your hips. That creates a softer landing that should help protect against aches and pains, he says.

Runners are also encouraged to engage their core and lean forward slightly (with a straight spine, not slumped over). In this position, your center of gravity helps propel you forward, so you're not spending as much effort fighting gravity by pushing off the ground. “It’s the way Kenyans and Ethiopians have been running for centuries. And what kids do when they first learn to walk,” says Wills.

RELATED: 7 Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

It may look and feel like you're about to face plant, but keep going, he says. “[Leaning forward] is definitely something that can be uncomfortable at first, but that’s a sign you’re doing it right."

Moving with the correct alignment will transform you into a more efficient, faster runner, ChiRunning coaches say. It will also make the miles fly by: “My goal is to be the laziest runner to exist,” says Wills. “Running shouldn’t be work and it shouldn’t be painful. It should be relaxed and comfortable.”

Interested in learning more? You can look up instructors on ChiRunning.com; order a book or DVD by the technique's creator, Danny Dreyer; or check out instructional videos on YouTube, like this one with Olympian Carrie Tollefson. 

The Mental Tricks Laurie Hernandez Uses to Summon Crazy Confidence

– www.health.com

Team USA gymnast Laurie Hernandez is blowing us away in Rio: Her talent is obviously out of this world, but what’s just as impressive is the poise and confidence the 16-year-old first-time Olympian exhibits pretty much every time she’s on camera.

Take her performances so far. At the Olympic trials back in July, Hernandez calmly stood before a huge crowd, closed her eyes, put one hand on her stomach, and breathed deeply. Then she proceeded to kill it on beam. (She took first.)

This week, as she struck her starting pose for the floor exercise, she sent the judges a smile and sneaky wink. Later, before hopping up on the beam, the camera caught her whispering to herself, “I got this.” And she was right.

But these little pre-routine behaviors aren’t just a fun part of her personality, says sports psychology consultant Robert Andrews. They’re actually valuable tools for getting in the right mindset for optimal performance—and they’re easy enough for anyone to learn, elite athlete or not.

Breathing like a champ

Andrews, who has a master’s degree in psychology and a background in fitness, runs the Institute of Sports Performance in Houston. He’s worked with hundreds of professional athletes, including Hernandez and her teammate Simone Biles; in fact, he taught Hernandez that very breathing routine she practices before competition.

“I like to say that oxygen is the cure for stress and anxiety,” says Andrews. “A lot of athletes, when they’re stressed out, start breathing a lot shallower and faster. So learning how to monitor and be aware of breathing patterns under stress is important.”

What Hernandez is doing before she competes, he explains, is called diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing. “She’s moving her diaphragm down so that her lungs can open up,” he says. “Laurie, like a lot of people, tends to hold her stress in her stomach—so she’s connecting her mind to her stomach and her breathing patterns.”

Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can release tension in the body, says Andrews, which can also relax the mind. That changes hormonal function in the brain, and lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

RELATED: How 6 Olympic Athletes Deal With the Pressure

Acting confident goes a long way

Andrews also works with athletes on body language and posture, which he says can have a big psychological influence on performance. “Laurie has a very upright, straight posture when she’s getting ready for a routine,” he points out. Not only does that make an impression on the judges, he says, it can also make an impression on her own brain.

“Strong body language like that can actually increase the production of testosterone and lower the production of stress-related hormones,” he says. “It creates brain chemistry that increases assertiveness and confidence, which you need just the right amount of when you’re on the bars, the beam, the floor, wherever…

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The Reason You’re Burned Out at Work May Surprise Youwww.health.com
How ChiRunning Can Turn You Into a Faster, More Efficient Runnerhealth.com
The Mental Tricks Laurie Hernandez Uses to Summon Crazy Confidencewww.health.com

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