As we all know, these past three years have been more than crazy. Stress is on the rise throughout the world, due to the everlasting pandemic. But how much stress is too much stress? And how should we healthily deal with it?
According to Herbert Freudenburg, burnout describes a severe stress condition that leads to severe physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Burnout is more than ordinary fatigue; it makes it challenging for people to cope with stress and more difficult for them to handle day-to-day responsibilities. We have all heard of many people, including medical staff, leaving their career field due to the overwhelming load that they have on their shoulders during this time. Katie Gerten found that from December “a whopping 76% of Americans are experiencing burnout” from the current state of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, burnout does not go away on its own and if left untreated can lead to serious physical and psychological illnesses. Now is the time to stop and find a way to get help for our overall health. You may be asking, “but how will I know if I am experiencing burnout?” Well, according to psychologists Herbert Freudenburg and Gail North, there are 12 phases of stress that lead to burnout;
- Excessive drive/ambition
- Pushing yourself to work harder
- Neglecting your own needs
- Displacement of conflict (such as ignoring that you are pushing yourself too hard and putting the blame on your boss, your fellow colleagues, or the demands of your job)
- Not allowing yourself to spend time on non-work-related needs
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Behavioral changes
- Feeling empty or anxious
- Burnout: mental or physical collapse that may require serious medical attention
I would like to share some practices that we can do throughout the day that can assist with preventing burnout.
Moments of mindfulness
When you are documenting, washing your hands, and/or taking a walk, try to let go of your thoughts and focus on your breathing. Allowing your brain to focus on a smaller task will help to recenter your thoughts before you have to go back to your next objective for the day.
Moments of gratitude
When you first wake up in the morning, writing down one thing that you are grateful for every day will help to remind your brain of the good things that are currently happening in your life. It may increase your productivity and help you feel more positive emotions throughout the day.
Breathing helps to bring your focus away from your mind and onto your body. By placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should feel your stomach rising and falling with each breath you take and not your chest. According to betterhealth.gov, “abdominal breathing helps to control the nervous system and encourages the body to relax, bringing about a range of health benefits.”
“Name it to tame it”
Taking a moment to identify and/or name the emotions you are feeling can diffuse their power and lessen the effects that they create. Psychologist Dan Siegel said, “Name it to tame it.” Saying the emotions you’re experiencing, as you’re feeling them allows you to feel the emotion and move past it more easily. Matthew Lieberman completed MRI brain scan research and found that “labeling of emotions appears to decrease activity in the brains emotional centers.”
According to Sarah Alder, “research shows that music can have a beneficial effect on brain chemicals, such as dopamine, and oxytocin. There is evidence that music also helps to lower levels of cortisol “the stress hormone.” Listening to a relaxing song helps boost your mental health. Research has also shown that classical music is more effective than a personal choice, due to the structure and slow rhythms.
As we all know, exercise is very important for our overall health. Not only for our physical health, but it can also give us an emotional boost by reducing depression and anxiety. Exercise has also been proven to assist with allowing you to get better sleep.
When your body and mind are exhausted, it can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Practicing a healthy sleeping pattern and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, will help our mind and body recharge, and be prepared to take on new tasks.
Green Space Exposure
Taking a short walk outside in the grass or under the trees could promote mental health by providing a calm environment that can reduce stress and restore the ability to concentrate on tasks. Studies have shown that the mere act of even listening to nature sounds has the ability to induce relaxation by relieving effects within the endocrine and autonomous nervous system. According to Ohio University, “It is recommended to listen to nature sounds to aid in stress reduction, relaxation, and sleep.”
Ask for Help
It is important to understand when you need to reach out for help. The feeling of hopelessness is the number one sign that you have pushed yourself too far. It may be uncomfortable to ask for help, but in the end, it is worth it because YOU ARE WORTH IT.
- The Mind Tools Content Team By the Mind Tools Content Team, Team, T., Wrote, M., Wrote, G., & Wrote, Y. (n.d.). Avoiding burnout: Maintaining a healthy, successful career. Retrieved April 24, 2021, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/avoiding-burnout.htm
- Gerten, K. (2021, April 06). I’m exhausted. how to bounce back from burnout. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://www.youthdynamics.org/im-exhausted-how-to-bounce-back-from-burnout/?gclid=CjwKCAjwkN6EBhBNEiwADVfya8ptqXgcUTqKKIDdUdcuqzOGp8Cg-mDfnuqHFbH5vnErMe5qG4XczBoCM-IQAvD_BwE
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