Here’s how to cope with stress and avoid burnout

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What do you do when you hit a wall?  Push through or back off?

In my household, we have differing opinions on this.  But as someone who is there….I’ve hit the wall and then some, my opinion is to not just slow down, but to stop.

Life is not a contest.  You don’t have to push on to prove that you are ok.  Or to prove that you are strong minded and can handle anything thrown at you.  

What I’ve learned (the hard way, I might add) is that it is empowering to give yourself permission to stop.  This took years for me to learn, but I did.  Thankfully, I did.

Growing up in the Midwest, I was taught to create a strong work ethic.  And if I’m honest, to this day I don’t believe in letting a little stress stop me from putting in a solid day’s work.  If I’ve made the commitment to a company/person/team, I’m going to see it through.  Even if it is a little painful for me.

But a little stress is not what I’m talking about….I’m referring to hitting a wall or burnout.  Getting to the point where you are either going to cry or scream at the next person that tells you things aren’t going as they should.  (Example:  your take out order was messed up.)

If you find yourself over-reacting to little things and feeling anxious and stressed out over things that really aren’t a big deal, it’s time to stop so you can pivot.  

And here’s the key word:  PERMISSION.  

You need to let go of pushing through and give yourself permission to take the day off.  Or the afternoon.  Whatever is reasonable.  I’ve found very few things can not be pushed back one day.  Whatever is on your calendar can move.  You just have to do it.  

And once you realize that this is indeed possible…..that you CAN take the next 12 hours for yourself, you will find it easier to breathe.  And peace can once again come into your sphere.  

Resistance is not your friend here.  Don’t push back on taking a “me day”.  (Or mental health day, if you prefer). If you’re still resisting the idea, here are a few benefits of taking a day off for you to consider:

  • Reduced stress:  stress is one of the leading causes of mental health issues and taking a day off can give you a break from stressors in your life.  A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that employees who took occasional days off experienced reduced levels of emotional exhaustion and improved job performance. (Bolino & Grant, 2016)
  • Increased Productivity:  Taking a break can also help to increase productivity.  Research has found that taking breaks can help to restore motivation and increase productivity. (Kim & Hunter, 1993)
  • Improved overall well-being:  Taking care of yourself is essential to your overall well-being.  A “me day” can help you to recharge your batteries and take care of your mental and physical health.  Research has shown that taking breaks and engaging in self-care activities can improve overall well-being and reduce burnout. (Mojzisch & Schulz-Hardt, 2010)
  • Reduced risk of burnout:  Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.  Taking a “me day” can help to reduce the risk of burnout.  

Taking care of yourself does not make you weak.  It means you value your overall well being.  And no one else can take care of your mental health but you.  So as Nike says, Just Do It.

And if you are a spouse/partner, parent, neighbor, aunt/uncle, or friend, you must take care of yourself before you can be any good for those around you.  So what may feel like a selfish act is really not.  You’d be surprised how much impact you have on your inner circle.  When you are off kilter, you are taking down the whole.  So take the time to recharge yourself.  

And what you moved to tomorrow will be there when you get there.  Let it go for today.

Here are a few other resources you can lean on for additional help and guidance:

  • Meditation:  Oprah & Deepak Chopra, Dr. Joseph Michael Levry and apps below
  • Well-Being Apps:  Calm, Insight Timer, Chopra, Headspace
  • Books:  Atomic Habits by James Clear, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo, You are A Badass by Jen Sincero 
  • Podcasts: The Daily Meditation Podcast by Mary Meckley; The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health by Dr. Ellen Hendrickson or Unlocking Us with Brene Brown.
  • Therapy:  What used to be seen as a weak substitute for dealing with our personal issues is now widely regarded as a smart choice to help move past stress, anxiety, depression and overall mental health issues.  Seek out a professional if you have been struggling with mental health.

You are not meant to do this alone.  Lean on friends, family, colleagues and therapists.  We are stronger when we work together.  You can Emerge Positive!



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