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Thriving in Turbulent Times: Mindful Strategies for Overcoming Crisis Mode

Unmanaged stress can result in burnout, overwhelm, and unproductive coping mechanisms. With a little gentle care and a lot of self-compassion, you can manage your stress if you learn to spot the warning signs.

The tension in modern life seems to never cease. It's possible that your phone's alarm wakes you up in the morning by shrieking, giving you a rush of adrenaline. Then, as you peruse your news stream and discover the most recent natural calamity, either local or worldwide, you might take another hit. Nowadays, it may seem as though there are hazards everywhere, whether they are real or imagined, and the body and mind may respond in a variety of ways as a result. Your heart might race, you might start to perspire, become hyperaware, or you might decide to avoid whatever the uncomfortable situation is at the time.

Bringing words or phrases to your steps is a quick technique to concentrate your attention. One benefit is that you can count along with your steps. Simply acknowledge where your thoughts have diverted when you find yourself losing count and start counting again from one. The secret is to do this without criticizing yourself or your daydreaming thoughts.

Moreover, it could be beneficial to speak while moving. Using a technique from Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff's curriculum Mindful Self-Compassion, you can say "thank you" and send gratitude or compassion to your feet and body as you move, for instance. You can also mentally or softly repeat reminders to yourself. The power of gratitude rests in its capacity to fundamentally alter how we perceive the outside world. We are taught to live in a state of scarcity and to compete both with other people and with ourselves. We think that not enough resources are available. Yet, once we transcend scarcity and realize that there is abundance everywhere, we start to see life as a place where we should give rather than take.

As Tony Robbins once said, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”. The law of attraction will bring us even greater abundance once we learn to appreciate what we already have. Gratitude has positive effects on all aspects of our lives, including relationships, professions, and enterprises. We become more content and joyful as a result. That helps us work better together. Being grateful at work might improve your interactions with your supervisor and coworkers.

We might have believed that technology would simplify our lives. Instead, though, we are deluged with irrelevant data packets. Our long-lost friends' vacation activities are disclosed on Facebook. We are expected to attend a holiday potluck, Google reminds us. On LinkedIn, we can recommend other professionals so that they will recommend us. And as for Twitter, who can say for sure what's happening there? We got 45 minutes of "restless sleep" last night, according to a monitor on our wrist. According to a friend of mine, email has evolved into "a To-Do list that you didn't design." And the plethora of apps at your disposal that, for example, make it easier for you to navigate IKEA offer little benefit.

Our health and wellbeing are directly impacted by our inability to step away from the information flow, such as when we may be compelled to stay connected at work or find it impossible to do so mentally or physically. Namely, and to many of us unsurprisingly, a rise in stress reactivity.

Multiple Stages of Stress

A common definition of stress is the nonspecific adaptive response of the body to any demand or situation, which comes from Hans Selye, the pioneer of stress research. He discussed a process known as the General Adaptation Syndrome that describes how humans react to stress (GAS). Alarm is the first stage, followed by Resistance and Exhaustion.

As we transition into a fight, flight, or freeze response for survival, alarm involves a variety of physiological reactions—hormonal, neurological, cardiovascular, etc.—as well as psychological reactions.

Resistance can be seen as the body's and mind's effort to adjust to and counteract the effects of the stressor. Everything will be fine once the stressor disappears. If this is not done, the stress hormone cortisol may continue to be generated, which may lead to difficulty sleeping, an increase in disease or anxiety, or problems with cognitive function. When a stressor persists for a prolonged period of time, exhaustion may occur as a result of either continued exposure or futile efforts to manage it. We get disorganized.

The Warning Signs of Excessive Stress

Thankfully, most of us no longer have to worry about saber-toothed tigers stalking our streets; instead, we must deal with long commutes, nasty emails, a difficult economy, climate change, COVID-19, and continual social media reminders of how well others are doing in compared to ourselves. The internal responses to these stressors are the same as when we are faced with a life-threatening situation.

Whether a stressor is favorable or negative, it always entails a change that we must learn to adapt to. Examples of stressors include a new baby, a job, a relationship, a death, or illness. It's possible that stress itself isn't the problem, but rather how persistent and intense it tends to be, how we react to it, and how we deal with it. The need for psychological, social, biological, and environmental adaptation in humans is inevitable. And solving problems is what we do best. Burnout can yet occur from fixing too many problems.

The Maslach Burnout Assessment Manual, a tool used by researchers to assess long-term professional stress, notes that while burnout may seem inevitable for many of us in our contemporary context, there are signs to look out for. You could feel overextended and emotionally spent from life or job, which is known as emotional tiredness. When a person in a helping profession reaches a point when they feel unable to give of oneself anymore, they frequently act in this way.

A pessimistic attitude or treating others like things are signs of depersonalization. We can start thinking that other people deserve their misfortunes. This viewpoint has a strong connection to emotional weariness. The next sign to look out for is a sensation of poor personal accomplishment, which is characterized by emotions of inadequacy, inefficiency, and ineptitude and makes you feel sad and unsatisfied with yourself and your performance. This may result in "chronic bitterness" and "learned helplessness."

You can discover that you find it difficult to focus once you arrive to work, to get out of bed, or to feel disenchanted. You could find it difficult to control your temper around coworkers and clients, lack the energy to finish jobs, or focus on a single task. Both your appetite and sleep may be impacted. You might turn to drugs or alcohol to block out emotions, or you might feel physically unwell with headaches and backaches. It can be challenging to tell the difference between depression and burnout sometimes, so consulting a mental health expert may be necessary.

Naturally, all of this could have an impact on both your personal and professional lives, making you sad, harming your relationships, and reducing your productivity.

Use These Simple Actions to Reduce Stress

Whatever the root of your stress, there are several things you may do to manage it. As you address your stress, start by paying loving attention to your experience and showing yourself compassion. And after that, think about these tactics:

List The Things That Stress You Out Personally

Well-known mindfulness teacher Susan Woods advises that we categorize them as either acute or chronic and internal or external. Keep in mind that certain subcategories may overlap. There are two types of problems: acute and chronic. For instance, a flare-up of chronic back pain brought on by an accident, or a stressor that can be both internal and external, such as stomach aches brought on by an argument with your spouse. Writing them down can assist you in breaking them down, making them less intimidating and easier to handle. We can simply have them rather than having to be them. And keep in mind that stressors are limited.

Choose The Stressors You Can Control And Leave The Ones You Can't

After you've identified a stressor that you cannot change, consider how you might change your attitude source perspective toward it. Do you have a different perspective? Can you agree with it? Can a difficulty turn into a teaching moment or a hurdle to clear? Do you feel a sense of achievement after completing a task?

Take One Small Step

Can you think of a simple, doable method to start dealing with the stressor or your response? Think about what you are going to do rather than what you won't do and make sure the action you are going to do is articulated in positive and specific words. Decide on a start and end time. Try not to take on too much. Aim to take little steps at all times.

Create A Network Of Allies

Can you name your inner and external sources of support and stress management? Make a list of your internal resources, for instance, if you are feeling burnt out from work. What qualities do you have? Create a list of potential external supports, including people, places, things, activities, and objects. Maybe you need a workout partner, a confidant you can talk to often, or you might look online for a gathering that might match your needs.

Keep Track Of And Note The Moments When You Feel Even Marginally Better

How can we create and safeguard our own resources and supports? The things that make you feel good can provide you hints about your inner resources. Perhaps you've stopped doing some of the tiny, nourishing things you used to do, like having your morning cappuccino and listening to a podcast or just taking a few deep breaths when you're feeling stressed. Keep in mind that you always have breath. Set a schedule and begin small! If you try to take on too much, you'll likely become overwhelmed and end up accomplishing nothing except wanting to crawl under the covers. Try to be kind to yourself first and foremost.

Remember That Everything Is Subject To Change

Nothing endures. And since change is inevitable, we may remind ourselves of this and, at the very least, give ourselves a little breathing room while the stress storm is raging.


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