I am so excited to be sending this post right now because I feel like it totally reflects my current life. We are only ten days in an I feel like my to-do list is long enough to cover the entire month…#overwhelming. I posted on my IG @thedrmoore that I would focus on decreasing stress/burnout and increasing happiness for March’s theme. I literally think March Madness has a way of manifesting itself in our lives, outside of basketball tournaments. Although we are technically still in the beginning of the year, March brings unpredictable weather, daylight savings time, and a shift in seasons.
Nonetheless, we are going to tackle stress and burnout this month, learning about some of the effects as well as strategies to increase happiness in your life.
So, STRESS, this thing that we all experience at some point and time…WHAT IS IT?
Stress can be defined as the psychological, physiological and behavioral response by an individual when they perceive a lack of equilibrium between demands placed upon them and their ability to meet those demands (Sørgaard et al., 2007). In turn, burnout occurs as a result of prolonged stress.
Stress occurs when our demands outweigh our resources. And yes, time is definitely a resource.
As a therapist, it has always been difficult to really explain to people the mental, physical, and physiological changes that can occur because of stress. It’s because we all experience it at some point, but we often fail to realize how drastically we can be affected. Although people recognize when they experience stress, we don’t understand how parts of the brain and body are LITERALLY breaking down because of it!
Think back to the last time you felt stressed or actually relayed the message to others that you were overwhelmed.
How did you know?
What did you feel?
How did your body respond?
We all have different responses to stress as it often provides an immediate signal! Stress can affect your sleeping patterns, cause changes in your skin, hair loss, changes in your heart rate or even nausea. More seriously, stress can be an onset for more chronic health conditions if it becomes a prolonged issue.
Stress can also cause you to disconnect from people or work, cause diminished personal accomplishment, and overall emotional exhaustion. There are numerous techniques to handle stress as well as an array of resources available however, here are a few initial steps to reducing your stress and burnout.
The first step in dealing with stress is identification!
Ask yourself, what are some triggers of my stress? If you can identify triggers of stress, there is potential to prepare for stressful situations in advance. Additionally, knowing your triggers allows you to have coping skills and techniques lined up! If you aren’t as familiar with your triggers, begin to identify bodily changes that occur when you feel stressed.
The second step in dealing with stress is coping!
Start by developing a list of techniques that work for you. Does it help to take deep breaths, to disconnect for a few moments, or to vent to a friend. Maybe it’s essential oils, exercising, or music that helps you to calm you down. The key is finding the right combination of techniques that work consistently.
The third step in dealing with stress is self-care!
THIS is all about your ability to create intentional time and space in your life to practice coping skills and engage in activities that make you happy. I also look at self-care and self-regulation as a part of resilience. These techniques are needed to bounce back from stressful situations.
Take some time and identify triggers, list coping skills, and plan for self-care to sustain your peace! My friends often laugh at me when I talk about my PEACE but when I tell you…My PEACE is EVERYTHING! The moment I feel my peace leaving me, I immediately start on my coping regimen. I know EXACTLY what makes me HAPPY and you should too. Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll cover this…HAPPINESS HEALS!!!
*Live Your Goal Driven Life*
Sørgaard, K.W., Ryan, P., Hill, R., & Dawson, I. (2007). Sources of stress and burnout in acute psychiatric care: inpatient vs. community staff. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology, 42, 794-802.