“Burnout” boils down to a feeling of being utterly exhausted from work. Once the memory of this feeling is associated with a workplace in your brain, just thinking of the workplace will make you tired. It is a kind of emotional trauma or a conditional reflex and I would like to leave it to specialists in that field.
As a Seitai practitioner, I would rather take the Seitai approach. Seitai is a unique Japanese therapeutic system that includes not only technical aspect but also philosophical one and focuses on mitigating an individual’s partial fatigue to help him/her live a full life. How do Seitai practitioners deal with “exhausted” patients? Here’s my perspective.
What is “partial fatigue”?
When your whole body gets tired uniformly, you can sleep deeply with a feeling of tired but pleasant relaxation and get up refreshed the next morning. In the modern working settings where jobs are highly specialized, however, you may not necessarily get this whole-body fatigue all the time. For example, office workers tend to feel tiredness from overuse of eyes and brain and dentists suffer from fatigue only in their dominant hands – something we call “partial fatigue”.
Although this partial fatigue may give an illusion that your whole body is tired, other parts of the body are actually full of energy and you cannot sleep deeply. This resembles a situation where you have some tired children and other children who are energetic, and try to get all of them to sleep in the same bed. The result is you are not refreshed the next morning. If this is the case, using the whole body until each body part gets tired uniformly will improve the quality of sleep. This is why a lot of people feel good after going to the gym for a workout after work.
However, once partial fatigue remains and accumulates over time, an aimless workout will not help get rid of partial fatigue and have a sound sleep anymore, because usually workout is not designed to relieve fatigue at particular spots. Seitai inherently focuses on spots. For those who feel partial fatigue even after workout, applying Seitai exercises and/or steamed towel method to the stiffest part or receiving an individual treatment by a specialized Seitai practitioner, should improve the situation.
What is “fatigue” in the first place? And how do you recognize it?
Fatigue is a state of lacking energy. In Seitai, energy is thought to exist in your resilience. In this sense, fatigue is a state where the body has lost its resilience. A resilient reed may hold out in a storm when even the strongest oak trees fall down. When it comes to falling down, children may stay intact, while the old suffer a fracture. In other words, when you lose resilience, the range of stress you can handle is narrowed.
This also has an impact on your sensitivity; when you are tired, you can easily be upset or depressed with a joke that you normally would laugh aside.
A person with an excellent intuition has the ability to read the other person’s desire from his/her expression. The slightest abnormality in behavior gives a clue: for example, they notice that the other person seems to feel chilly or thirsty, or they instantly understand the boss’s bad mood is coming from his missed lunch, not because the person had done something terrible to the boss. A person with this ability is also very good at parenting.
Being tired, however, even such a person can be less intuitive, less sensitive, and have a narrower perspective. This may hinder the ability to read the other person’s desire, causing failure in negotiations, increased mistakes and irritation of the other person by unconscious irritating behaviors.
In such a condition, their eyes look powerless and their appearance seems smaller than usual. If this is your partner or child, you will notice that his/her lying position is lower than usual in the morning. This is because the person’s body slowly moved downward when changing sides. If the condition is serious, the person will no longer turn in bed.
When the person is in good condition, his/her eyes shine and their appearance seems larger. The body moves upward, sometimes even upside down, in the bed.
Shimo-Tanden – a sign of fatigue or vitality
Among several signs of fatigue, the most reliable one is “Shimo-Tanden” which represents the comprehensive vitality of the person. To Yoga learners “a point between the root chakra and second chakra” may make more sense. It lies at three finger breaths above the pubic bone.
Lie on the back and gently press Shimo-Tanden down. Pleasant bouncing indicates you are full of energy. With this energy, you are undaunted by the boss’s criticism and are even willing to try harder to grow further. When Shimo-Tanden is depressed and not bouncing, you are vulnerable and may want to quickly go home.
You might wonder if it is fat that makes the Shimo-Tanden bounce, but there is a depression at anyone’s Shimo-Tanden when they are tired and lack energy, no matter how fat his/her belly is.
The same goes for short-tempered, noisy or clumsy persons. Their breathing is usually shallow and rapid. Their lungs are no longer bouncing, like a deflated balloon, causing their rib cage to gradually lower over time and ultimately be in a state that a doctor would diagnose as depressive psychosis. The difference in the thickness of the lung is known to cause restless sleep and nightmares. The key to clear up all these issues is a mechanism known to us as fever.
Benefits from catching a common cold
Baby’s body heat is high. The elderly’s body heat is low. This indicates that body heat represents vitality.
In Seitai, getting a fever and raising the body heat by catching a cold has been traditionally regarded as an irreplaceable function of homeostasis. By catching a cold, the human body induces infectious fever, which will, in turn, recover its resilience, enhance the immune system and mitigate the asymmetry.
See my article “How to utilize ‘Colds and their benefits’”.
The link to burnout
General characteristics of burnout include nausea, headache, and vulnerability to cold and flu. In my opinion, they are the result of your body’s effort to regain resilience.
When the body loses resilience and starts stiffening, circulation is reduced and the body temperature is lowered. To avoid this, your body has a mechanism where it makes good use of fever and pain to regain the resilience. When you have a fever, therefore, I recommend that you take advantage of this mechanism.
Focusing on the positive aspect of fever and thinking “Fever is good for me. Let’s take advantage of it” will relax you and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in better excretion (in Seitai, fever, sweat, cough and nasal mucus are considered a form of elimination of harmful substances. Nausea is a body’s spontaneous reaction to bring them out from the stomach).
On the other hand, a negative mindset such as “Fever is bad for me. I need to quickly bring down the fever to return to my work.” will make you tense and your sympathetic nervous system dominant, resulting in poor excretion.
When the body is not able to take advantage of the fever, it gets less flexible and resilient, and gradually becomes stiffer and colder. This can be compared to deteriorated batteries in a cell phone, which die quickly even after a long-period charging.
Do you remember your childhood when you used to sleep so much so that you closed your eyes and before you knew it, it was the next morning? We need that kind of natural, drug-free deep sleep no matter how short it is. Since you dream often and can no longer sleep deeply, sleeping long hours does not help wake up refreshed the next morning.
How can we relax, regain natural and deep sleep and recover from fatigue to get refreshed? Here’s my hands-on instruction.
Deep breathing method
This breathing method helps regain your resilience by directly focusing your energy on Shimo-Tanden, an indicator of your vitality. As the proverb says “Little and often fills your purse,” continuing this method every day will steadily enhance your Shimo-Tanden.
- Lay down on your back and make an arch over the lower back (lumbar 3 to 5).
- Take a deep breath to expand Shimo-Tanden as much as you can. Repeat this three times.
- Take another deep breath, then slowly breathe out leaving 70% of the tension of the Shimo-Tanden, while your belly is still extended.
- While maintaining the tension, take shallow breaths using only your upper chest.
- Continue this shallow breath for 30 – 60 seconds until you feel uncomfortable. Take a deep breath in and relax the entire body.
If you find yourself breathing deeper than before, you have done this method successfully. After you get used to this, you will be able to breathe by this method while sitting down or even walking.
Eventually, you will obtain a keen sense of energy entering and exiting Shimo-Tanden. Shimo-Tanden will instantly lose energy when you are forced to do a disgusting work. On the other hand, a challenging job you are excited about will boost your energy level at Shimo-Tanden.
The method of discharging negative energy
This is the best warming-up method which helps relax your diaphragm for deeper breathing when the deep breathing method does not work. It also guides you to a deep sleep at sleepless nights.
- Sit on a chair. Press in your upper abdomen (solar plexus) with your fingers as breathing out. Bending yourself forward prompts your fingers to go into your body. You may feel a dull pain.
- While holding the pressure, take a short breath. Further bending yourself forward, exhale and press in more.
- Repeat 2. While inhaling, slowly straighten up your body.
- Repeat 1-3 three times.
If you yawn, you have done very well. When breathing out, imagining you throw up bad energy and saying “Eww” aloud makes this practice more effective.
When your fatigue comes to the core and stiffens it, the thoracic 7 gets stiff, impairing the functioning of the spleen and immune system. Catching a cold will relax this T7. If you have not caught a cold for years, use this exercise to relax T7 to activate immunity.
- Sit on with your sacrum leaning forward.
- Clasp your right wrist by the left hand, then extend the arms downward.
- Raise your arms from forward to upward and stretch out.
- Let’s say this 12 o’clock direction. Then extend your right arm to 11 o’clock and continue stretching about ten seconds.
- Switch your hands and stretch out the arms to 12 o’clock again. Likewise, stretch out the left arm to 1 o’clock about ten seconds.
- Repeat 2-5 several times.
This exercise is all about stretching axillary lymph nodes. If you feel your armpit stretched, you have done well. But if you don’t feel it, you may be over bending or twisting the torso.
Continue this seemingly simple exercise every morning and evening, and you may find your complexion is better after a few months. What’s more important than better complexion is that your immune response regains the sensitivity, which means your body can produce fever as necessary.