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3 Questions to Tackle Stress and Prevent Burnout

by | May 8, 2024

Stress can have long term impacts on the body and overall mental wellbeing. The American Psychological Association completed a study in 2023 to determine the impacts of recent events (the pandemic, inflation, political discord, racism, global conflicts and more) on Americans, and to no surprise, they found increases in levels of stress and physical health impacts from pre pandemic 2019 data.  

In 2023 APA also completed a ‘Work in America Survey’ which showed that 77% of adult employees had experienced work-related stress within the last month of when the survey was taken and over half of these individuals reported negative impacts related to burnout. While in recent years many organizations and campaigns have aimed at prioritizing mental health and well-being, we are still not quite there as other cultures and countries have normalized well- being through 4 -day work weeks, siestas and even maternal and paternal leave. Though there are societal changes that can help contribute to collective wellness, we still each have a responsibility to ensure that we are able to recognize and manage our mental health and wellbeing.

Stressors are inevitable and, in some cases, stress can be useful. However, unmanaged, prolonged and cumulative stress can lead to burnout. Burnout was originally coined in 1970’s by Herbert Freudenberger as a syndrome comprised of 12 stages including neglecting needs, denial of issues, withdrawal, behavioral changes, and even depression. He created this as he assessed employees and workplace stress, but we know that burnout can be experienced beyond the workplace. It can be felt in the various roles we may have, professionally, academically and interpersonally. 

Below are 3 questions to get you started in assessing how you manage and cope with stress:

1. Am I aware of when I am stressed? 

Self-awareness is such an important factor in combating stress. Being aware of the stressor is important but so is knowing what your unique response is to stress. This could be physical responses but also emotional and mental and can help you proactively navigate by identifying your need. 

2. Do I manage stress in a healthy or unhealthy way?

Once you can determine when you are stressed, it is also important to determine how you manage it. Managing stress in unhealthy ways can look like: turning to substances or food, lacking emotional regulation and expressions of anger and irritability to others start to impact relationships, ruminating and excessive worry or even overworking and “stretching yourself too thin”.  Unhealthy ways of managing stress can lead to other negative consequences on mental and physical health as well as impacts on your personal and professional life. 

3. Do my daily habits promote or proactively help me reduce stress?

Assessing your daily habits is important for overall health and well-being. It is important to assess if your routines around activities of daily living such as sleep, nutrition, movement/ exercise and hygiene align with healthy habits to help reduce stress. 

When we are dealing with stress, especially if it has advanced to burnout, it can be so difficult to engage in healthy habits. For example: 

  • Feeling so exhausted that we may have a lack of motivation to exercise or prioritize movement after a long day of work and instead Netflix or doomscrolling becomes our routine. 
  • Overeating or eating foods lower in nutritional value that are fulfilling emotional needs.
  • Skipping showers or taking less effort in appearance 

If you notice that it becomes more difficult to engage in day-to-day activities this could be an indication that you are burnt out and it may be time to seek mental health support.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation to see how we may be able to support your learning to manage stress, treat burnout and prioritize your health and wellness.

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About Mariah | View Profile

Mariah Dookie is a licensed professional counselor and trauma-informed practitioner. She specializes in anxiety, stress management, body image issues, and perfectionism in adults.

We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!

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