Relief from Burnout
Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC
It’s been over a year since the pandemic began, and I think we are all ready for life to return to some sense of normalcy. If you are experiencing burnout from the stress of everything that has been happening for this extended time period, you are not alone. According to the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, one of the biggest causes of burnout is emotional exhaustion. Exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion. Emotions are like tunnels. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you go all the way through them, you get to the light at the end.
Stress involves negative emotions: fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, or dread. Stress is a neurological and physiological response to a stressor; it’s a full body experience. It involves the release of neurochemicals in our brains and the production of stress hormones that course throughout our bodies. If you get stuck in one of these negative emotions and don’t move through it to complete the stress cycle, it stays in your body and causes physical problems and disease. This stress response causes 90% of illnesses and diseases because people aren’t completing the stress cycle. Removing all stressors from our lives is not only unrealistic; it’s not enough. We must find a way to complete the stress cycle and release these negative emotions to prevent burnout and health problems. We can’t control all of the stressors that may come into our lives, but we can control our ability to complete the stress cycle, and this increases our resilience.
Here are 7 ways to complete the stress cycle and prevent burnout from their book:
- Physical activity – This is the best strategy for completing the stress cycle. Any movement of your body is effective.
- Breathing – Deep breathing is also very effective. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Positive social interaction – As human beings, we are wired for connection. Social interaction sends us a signal that the world is a safe place.
- Laughter – The real belly laughs where you can’t control it is the most effective, not the posed laughter.
- Affection – A 20-second hug from a loved one can do wonders. It has been shown to produce oxytocin (the feel-good hormone), lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve mood.
- Big Ol’ Cry – Crying may not change the stressor that caused you stress, but it is very effective at helping you complete the stress cycle. Crying is a huge emotional release that gets you unstuck.
- Creative Expression – Any type of creative expression: painting, music, writing, dancing, etc. encourages big emotions. It draws out our emotions and channels them in a productive way.
You’ll know when you’ve completed the stress cycle once you experience a shift in mood, mental state, or physical tension and your thoughts relax. I hope that you will use one or more of these strategies to release negative emotions and complete the stress cycle to prevent burnout and stay healthy emotionally, mentally and physically.
“Take your broken heart and make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher
“Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.” – Emily and Amelia Nagoski
“Wellness is the freedom to move fluidly through the cycles of being human. Wellness is thus not a state of being; it is a state of action.” – Emily and Amelia Nagoski
You can listen to their podcast here: Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle
You can purchase their book here: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
– Amazon links in this newsletter are paid affiliate links.