DOUBLE BOOK REVIEW: Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman-Barrett



Sooooo… I just read two books that describe the same thing in two different ways.

How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, by professor and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, explains that what we experience as “emotion” derives from an adjustment in our so-called “body budget.”

As Barrett puts it:

An emotion is your brain’s creation of what your bodily sensations mean, in relation to what is going on around you in the world.

She’s not saying that our feelings are wrong, or that we aren’t feeling what we’re feeling. She’s just saying that what we call “emotions” are culturally based concepts that we use to describe physical/neurochemical changes created in the body. (Feelings are, literally, the way our body feels.)

She also notes that if we experience too many physical/neurochemical adjustments that withdraw from our body budget without enough corresponding adjustments to replenish our body budget, we’ll burn ourselves out.

Which brings me to Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Drs. Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski (twins with doctorates in health behavior and music, respectively).

I was a little curious about what I’d find in this book, because I’d seen some excerpts and reviews that suggested the secret to unlocking the stress cycle was, like, to dance it out—but it turns out that Nagoski and Nagoski are making the exact same argument.

Emotions are the names we give our body’s neurochemical adjustments.

Dancing after a stressful event (or laughing, or hugging, or crying) reduces the levels of body-depleting neurochemicals and completes the stress cycle. Or, to use Barrett’s terminology, rebalances your body budget.

We burn out if we experience too many stressful events without opportunities to complete the stress cycle in between. The more stressful the event, the more time you need to recover/rebalance.

Which is kind of obvious, if you think about it—but it must not be, because I can’t stop thinking about it.

Of course, I also really really like budgeting, and the idea that my body also has a budget is kind of fascinating. (That, and I’m the kind of person who is more likely to take time off to “replenish my body budget” than I am to take time off because I “feel sad.” Sometimes it really is all about the way you look at things.)

Consider both books VERY EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED. ❤️

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