Nobody likes stress, but when life begins to pick up its speed, it can be inevitable. Thankfully, there are numerous coping mechanisms to help manage stress and prevent what is commonly referred to as “burnout.” Burnout is a state of mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion triggered by high stress levels over an extended period of time. This can be debilitating and result in mental roadblocks such as depression or anxiety. In most cases, however, it can be prevented with proper care and awareness.
There are many physical and emotional signs of burnout, but some of the more common ones are extreme fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep habits, frequent illness and lowered immunity, loss of motivation, detachment, increasingly cynical and negative outlook, and a sense of failure and self-doubt. The difference between stress and burnout are the primary effects on your wellbeing. While stress is mainly physical, burnout is primarily emotional and can lead to much greater damage in the long run.
Psychologists suggest the use of the “Three R” technique, which focuses on stopping harmful behaviors and then attempting to undo past damage.
The technique begins with “Recognize,” which means watching for signs of burnout and being aware of one’s own mental state.
Next is “Reverse,” which entails undoing harm by seeking support and managing stress in an attempt to undo as much damage as possible.
Finally is “Resilience,” the R that focuses on prevention of future burnout by building resilience to stress through taking care of your physical and emotional health.
While this method provides a good framework, it doesn’t thoroughly answer the question of what one can do to lower stress on a daily basis. Here are ten methods to decrease stress levels:
For example, Chandler LaValle, a freshman at Bard College at Simon’s Rock who particularly enjoys the outdoors, cited multiple of the above methods, saying he likes to “go for a hike in the woods and listen to good music,” to try and destress.
In another case, Hilary Yarger, a junior at Simon’s Rock says, “I run every morning while I’m at school because it helps me focus on things other than academics. It’s both a way for me to focus on other things and nothing at all. It’s almost a form of meditation.” As the founder of the on-campus Autism Support Group, she also mentioned how in her experience, taking part in a support group is a great way to destress around people who are in similar situations to her.
While it may not seem so immediately apparent, the benefits of stress management extend beyond well-being. Stress over extended periods of time may evolve into burnout, which as stated before, often turns into more serious problems or mental disorders. Furthermore, extensive stress can lead to muscle tension, shortness of breath, and even heart disease.
At the end of the day, stress isn’t something we can avoid. We can, however, do our best to make the most of the situation and prioritize our own mental health to ensure that we get as much from lives that we can. We just need to remember that even when all seems hopeless, there still is, and always will be, the opportunity for improvement.
Elizabeth Selberg,a contributer to The Cad