Stress: Are You Burned Out?

Work is piling up. Bills are mounting. Your to-do list is a mile long. Let’s not even mention the kids, the dog, the dishes and the laundry. If the pressures and stress of everyday life are starting to feel insurmountable, you may be experiencing burnout.

Stress: Are You Burned Out?

Many people may confuse the symptoms of burnout with depression, but depression and burnout have very different effects on the body. Depression is associated with high levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the body in response to stress, whereas burnout is actually linked to low cortisol levels. The issue here is that people often visit their doctor with symptoms of burnout, and as there are similarities, they are subsequently treated for depression – given antidepressants that only lower their cortisol levels even further. This does not treat the problem and only makes burnout worse.

While stress is unavoidable, burnout is. Take the Great American Stress Test to determine your personal stress level, and take action to prevent reaching your breaking point. Click here to take the test.  

Remember that the mind and body are intrinsically connected, and that stress and the physically inflammation it causes can ravage the body and age you before your time.

Identify the symptoms of burnout and learn new ways to keep a meltdown at bay.

Burnout Symptom #1: Emotional Exhaustion  

This symptom presents with the feeling of being emotionally drained, as if you feel you’ve got nothing left to give, even when dealing with the people and relationships that matter to you most.

Burnout Symptom #2: Depersonalization

You feel mechanical and robotic. It’s as if you’re just going through the motions to survive the day. You feel as if your normal self has disappeared.

Burnout Symptom #3: A Sense of Diminished Personal Accomplishment

Chronic stress can result in you feeling that you just can’t get anything right. You may feel that you are failing at your job or in your relationships. You’ve become very hard on yourself.

If how you feel matches up with these symptoms, it may be a sign that chronic stress has taken its toll on your body. But there are things you can do to more effectively manage your stress and reduce your risk of burnout.

Track Your Stress for a Week

Keep a stress journal. There are 3 things you must monitor when journaling: what the stressful situation is, what thoughts are associated with that situation, and what physical response results from the stress. Becoming more vigilant of what triggers your stress will help you become more mindful of how you react.

Pack a Stress-Reducing Kit

If you know something has the ability to soothe you, keep it on hand. Your favorite song, a specific scent or taste (dark chocolate or mints) appeal to your other senses and may help you relax.

Find Your Sounding Board

Let it out – release the stress from inside you and express your feelings to a friend, a partner or a therapist. Make this the person  you vent to, either every day or once a week. You can also look to yourself as a source of relief by practicing meditation. The purpose of meditation is to let go of your thoughts, especially, in this case, the ones that have a negative effect on your overall wellbeing. For practical tips on how to take up and maintain a meditation practice, click here.

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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