We’ve all been there. Feeling tired, weary, overwhelmed, irritated, and that loss of motivation to do even the most mundane tasks. It’s a universal term, really, and I’ve used it as well as heard it from hundreds of people. It’s called burnout. The real question isn’t whether or not you’ve experienced it, the real question is what do I do about it?
After reading the book Burnout by Drs. Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, I learned several things about burnout, but one of the most salient topics is the actual stress cycle. What is the stress cycle?
First, we have to identify the difference between stressors and stress. Stressors are the events or circumstances that create stress. This could be an upcoming test, or a visit from a family member with whom you have a strained relationship. It could also be the pandemic we are all dealing with, civil unrest, or the presidential election results.
On the other hand, “Stress is the neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body when you encounter a stressor”, says Drs. Nagoski.
Examples of this include an adrenalin rush if you are being chased by someone who has threatened to hurt you, sweaty palms and heightened heart rate following a presentation you gave, or stomach aches / head- aches tightened muscles in anticipation of the results from the 2020 election. Once you experience the stressor and predictably feel stress, then what?
This is where most of us get stuck. We have faced the pandemic, we can feel an array of symptoms including tightness in our body, emotional turmoil, or pure exhaustion, but we do nothing with it. It just stays there with no where to go, and we feel unresolved. The answer to this dilemma is called “completing the cycle”. We must do something with our stress so that it properly leaves our body and we feel some sort of relief.
There are plenty of choices out there, and here are a few of my favorites:
- Go outside and feel the air on your face. Notice the nature around you and be mindful of small details.
- Do yoga. Practice poses or just be aware of the breath.
- Give someone a hug.
- Talk to a trusted friend. Be authentic about your struggle.
- Exercise. Play ball, take a walk, lift weights, jog.
Anything to get your body moving. Once you complete the cycle, you will be able to move throughout your day with more clarity and joy. We have to let go of what does not serve us and begin anew. Try these tips!