There has always been a lot of questions on my mind about burnout, eg, How to be aware of It? How to handle it, and take control? And what exactly causes it?
In my search for insightful answers that tackle every aspect of the topic i interviewed, Anthony Mendez, the Founder of Mendez Fitness and he had quite a lot of information on the topic. In fact, he gave this article, complete with a breakdown and advice on everything concerning burnout. With his permission, i decided to share this article, so more people could benefit from his research on the topic.
Keeping Burnout at Bay: What You Need to Relieve Your Stress
Do you find yourself constantly stressed throughout the day? Are you In control? Or does you stress control You?
Maybe you’re stressed over a million little things, or perhaps something significant is going on in your life that causes you stress. Maybe you even have some periods where you feel great, but the stress always comes back.
Unfortunately, whether you have a little stress or a lot of stress, it’s continuing to build and before you know it, you’re going to have much bigger problems going on in your life. That’s because stress leads to something even harder to deal with, burnout.
What is Burnout?
Many people use the phrase ‘burned out’ to mean that they’re just tired of what they’re doing and that it doesn’t excite them anymore. In truth, that’s only a portion of what burnout really is. Real burnout happens when you’ve been stressed for so long that you are completely mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. Individuals experiencing burnout are not only wholly worn out, but they’re unable to accomplish the things that they’re supposed to be doing, which makes for a seemingly never-ending rotation of feeling bad, performing bad and feeling worse.
Are You In Danger of Burnout?
The truth is, many people may not even realize that they’re on the road to burnout until they’re practically there. So what should you be watching for as signs that you might be on your way to burnout? First off, if every day is a bad day or if putting in the effort to care about anything in your life just seems like too much work. If you feel like you just can’t get ahead, you’re overwhelmed, and you’re bored out of your mind you might be on this path. Also, if you find that you’re exhausted and nothing you’re doing is making a difference anyway.
There are actually signs in your physical state, your emotional state, and your behavioral state that could point to burnout. For example, you might have different eating or sleeping habits or even headaches and physical pain. You might feel like a failure or become even more cynical about the things that are happening around you. You also might start to isolate yourself from people or start taking out your anger and frustration on the people that are around you, whether at work or at home.
Why is High Stress and Burnout Bad?
If you feel like you’ve always operated under a sort of low-level stress in your life, you may not realize why it’s such a problem at all. After all, it’s just a little push to get you moving, right? Well, stress can be that, but it can also be a big problem if you allow it to take over your life too much. The problem is what stress does to your body and your mind when it’s not handled properly or when it gets too extreme.
• Personality disorders
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Heart attack
• Eating disorders
• Sexual dysfunction
• Hair loss
• Ulcerative colitis
• Menstrual problems
And these are just some of the conditions that could be caused or exacerbated by stress in your life. If you continue to let stress control you, these can become even worse as time goes on, which can lead to hospitalization and even death. That’s why it’s so important to find ways that you can relieve your stress. Luckily, there are plenty of them out there.
Relieving Your Stress with Movement
One of the best things that you can do to help relieve your stress is to get moving. Exercise of all types, whether it’s yoga, bodyweight training, at home exercising, and playing a sport or mountain climbing, all of this releases endorphins in your body. Those endorphins are basically like a natural ‘happy pill’ that your body provides for you. They make you feel better, happier, and more in touch with the world around you, which is definitely going to help you to relieve some of the stress that you’re experiencing. And it just takes finding some type of exercise that you can enjoy.
The key is to figure out what it is you like to do most. Do you love to ride your bike? Take a walk? Dance? An active hobby? Do martial arts? Maybe there’s one form of exercise that you like best, or maybe there are several that you enjoy. Whatever you like to do, create a list or a system before you ever feel yourself getting stressed. When you’re in the moment of feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to come up with a plan for what you’re going to do. That’s why it’s always good to know beforehand. That way, when the moment comes, you know how to react.
For some, you may not even realize that you’re feeling stressed at the moment. It may take a little bit of time to recognize that it’s pulling you down or wearing at you. Over time, you’ll learn how to recognize it more quickly, and you’re definitely going to learn how to stop it fast. We’ll talk about the first thing you should do, the thoughts that you should be taking advantage of, in the next section, but for now, it’s important to know that you should be paying attention to your physical body to help kick start what’s going on with your mind.
Relieving Your Stress with Thought Processes
The way you think is another important aspect of your stress relief. After all, stress is very much affecting your mental state by making you feel overwhelmed, overworked, under-appreciated, and much more. Targeting only the physical effects of exercise and releasing those endorphins through exercise is only going to be part of the process. From there, you’ll also want to work on the way that you’re thinking about stress or about yourself as a result of that stress. Letting it get you down too much, or allowing it to fuel negative self-talk is only going to hurt you even more in the long run.
So, what should you be doing when you’re stressed? The first thing you should do is stop right where you’re at. Stop that thought in the middle and take a few moments to breathe and relax. You don’t have to do a full meditation sequence if you don’t want to, but just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths so you can reset your thought process and get prepared for some positive self-talk and a bit of encouragement coming your way, because that’s where you’re going to go next.
When you’re feeling stressed you’re probably thinking that there’s no way you can do this or that you’re just going to have to push harder. Instead of focusing on the negative, think about something that you’ve done really well or that you’re really great at. Instead of thinking ‘there’s no way that I can finish all of this’ think ‘I am smart and dedicated.’ Instead of thinking ‘I have to keep working harder’ think, ‘I deserve to take a break once in a while.’ Try to slow yourself down and think positive thoughts that encourage you without making you feel even more overworked.
By improving your positive self-talk and decreasing the amount of negative self-talk going on in your brain, you’re going to improve your mood in amazing ways. Now, it’s not going to fix everything if you indeed have a mental illness alongside your stress, but it can make a big difference to focus your mind in a more positive direction. The exercise processes we talked about above are also going to be a great option, and when you combine the two, you’re definitely going to be setting yourself up for a better chance at success and less stress in your life.
Why It Matters
So, what else is there that you should know about stress? It absolutely affects your entire life. It’s not just about the medical conditions that can happen or get worse as a result of stress (which we talked about above). It’s also about the relationships and the other aspects of your life that are going to get worse with stress. Even minor amounts of stress can negatively affect you, your family, your work, and a whole lot more. So, let’s take a closer look at just what could happen in your life if you’re not taking care of stress fast.
First, you’re going to have a bad day. No one likes to go through bad days, and when you start feeling more and more stressed, that’s precisely what’s going to happen. That stress is going to build up and up throughout the day, and one little thing is going to lead to another little thing, or something significant will happen that really pushes you over the edge. In the end, stress causes you to look on the wrong side of everything that you’re doing and to anticipate problems. Unfortunately, anticipating problems is an excellent way to make sure that you have more of them, and that just creates a never-ending cycle.
Another problem is that you’re going to take that bad day with you wherever you go. If you’re working, you’re likely going to have a hard time getting things done that you need to. You might struggle even with work that you usually have no problem with. You might struggle with projects that require a little extra brainpower or thought. You might also have difficulty getting along with your coworkers or finding the information that you need to accomplish something.
Next up are your relationships. When you’re feeling stressed out, you’re probably going to be a little (or more than a little) more irritable. This means you’re more likely to snap at coworkers or family or friends. Some of these individuals will get it, and they might understand you’re under a lot of pressure or feeling stressed, but some might not. Not to mention, if you’re stressed and frustrated with people too frequently, it could negatively affect the relationship in the long-term rather than just the short-term. Before you know it, you could be losing friends because of your attitude.
Taking Action to change your physiological state
When you first start feeling stress; the best thing you can do is practice the breathing we mentioned already and start focusing on positive thoughts. Just take a few minutes to compliment yourself on something that you’ve done well or on something that you’re achieving. It doesn’t have to be a long process, and you don’t need to get too crazy about it (no, you don’t need to become an egomaniac about it). Just take a few minutes to see that you really are doing a great job, even if you’re struggling at the moment.
From there, get some exercise in. If you can leave your office or whatever location you’re in, then great. You might want to hit the gym, take a walk in the park, or go for a bike ride. If you can’t leave then try to walk around the office, jump around for a few minutes, or do some squats (it’s not the same as going outside or performing other movements, but it will help a lot regardless) on top of that you can also do some stretches in your office area which can help tremendously. Whatever you can do is going to help you release those endorphins and get ready to put your best foot forward. The most important thing is just getting away from whatever it is that’s making you feel stressed and taking a few minutes to yourself before you go back. You can definitely reset your body to be prepared and ready to go.
No matter what you’re currently going through in your life, it’s possible for you to make a difference and to start working on relieving your stress. Whether you’re just beginning to feel minimal amounts of stress or you find yourself close to burnout, the best thing that you can do is start working on stress relief techniques. Your mental, physical and emotional help are crucial aspects of your life and when you can find new ways to make sure that you’re taking care of each of these things you’re definitely going to be better off in the long run.
Interview with Anthony Mendez – http://www.mendezfitness.com/
Slmainc. (2017, February 20). The Science of STRESS – http://www.slma.cc/the-science-of-stress/