- Posted by jwpalp
- On June 15, 2020
- 0 Comments
With the advent of the coronavirus crisis, humanity as a whole is experiencing a state of confusion and transition. Many people are closer than they would like to their breaking points, and, collectively, we are fatigued.
In this crisis event, our standard ways of coping aren’t necessarily available to us. We’re stressed, and we can’t go to the gym to burn off that energy or meet friends in person to receive the connection and support we once relied on. Typically, people tend to deal with stress from a crisis in one of three ways:
• Resilience: A crisis hits, but I’m resilient and come up with new ways to cope and enjoy life. I can’t go to my favorite restaurant, but maybe I take up cooking. I take guitar or Spanish classes online and spend lunchtime with my kids instead of my colleagues. I challenge myself to come out of a crisis as a stronger person and find a way to thrive. • Stagnation: Life turns upside down, and I’m treading water. I’m okay, but I feel off-center, vaguely empty, and disoriented. Maybe I’m overeating, watching TV instead of going for a walk, and the extra pounds or glasses of wine are piling up. I’m getting by, but it’s not a plan for success. When the crisis passes, I’ll return to my typical lifestyle. I’m surviving but not thriving. • Burnout: The ways I’m handling stress aren’t working or are even downright detrimental to my physical and mental well-being. I feel like I’m sinking and can’t turn things around. I may be feeding my addictive desires to numb myself, acting more aggressive with others, and my emotions are probably running out of control.
Like many of life’s challenges, we want to get ahead of burnout and resolve it when the symptoms are still manageable. This means being pro-active about our mental health and self-care when we feel ourselves starting to slip into the stagnation phase. I think of stress, and burnout like a snowball – when it’s just beginning to form at the top of the hill, it’s much easier to intervene and keep it from rolling downhill. When a burnout snowball is at the bottom of the slope, intervening can be more complicated, and even dangerous, because your once small snowball may now pack the punch of an avalanche.
How do you know when stress and burnout are reaching dangerous levels? I’ve listed some of the most common signs below.
• Tunnel vision: You can’t gauge situations or social interactions accurately and miss critical pieces of information. • Loss of interest: Things you once found pleasurable lose their joy, making it more difficult to relax. • Helplessness: You may feel overwhelmed to the point where you feel helpless to make any changes or to take action. You can’t prioritize like you once could or make even simple decisions easily. • Mood changes: Depression, anxiety, and anger may increase. You may be feeling and acting more confrontational, isolating, or feeling more fearful, worried, or frustrated. • Sleeping and eating: You find yourself over or under eating or sleeping, or just find that your typical habits are disrupted. • Substance use: Your alcohol or drug use increases. • Energy: You may feel an increase or decrease in energy and activity levels.
Now that you know what changes to watch out for, the next step is what to do when you recognize the signs of stress arising. In our next blog, I’ll discuss strategies to manage stress effectively, even when that feels like an impossible task.