Are You Dealing With Stress or Burnout? What’s the Difference?

 

 

I believe everyone has a certain amount of stress in his or her life. It could be a lot or a little. It could be brushed away or completely take us down. But it’s there. For everyone.

I found this amazing two-part series about stress and burnout. What is the difference? Why is it important to know the difference? What can you do about them?

It’s a must-read.

Whether you’re stressed/burned out or not, it’s a fascinating look at these two conditions. It’s eye-opening and informative. Really. Check it out, bookmark it, both, whatever…but do visit these pieces by Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s blog:

 

 

ETA: I just found two posts on Sally Cronin’s blog about stress. I had to add these. They deal with similar issues in a very different way, focusing on health. Symptoms of acute vs chronic stress, how to manage stress with diet (vitamins, minerals, foods), and much more. Please check these out.

 

The link between stress and your heart

Strategies and foods to relieve stress

 

 

photo: Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

 

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The Art of Saying “No”

 

 

Your friend asks if you would edit her essay. Your kid’s teacher asks if you would run the bake sale. Your boss asks if you would stay late.

What do you do?

When you can’t take on one more thing? When your plate is overflowing? When you simply don’t want to?

Has anyone here mastered the art of saying “No”?

You in the orange shirt.

“Um…open your mouth and say the word ‘no’.”

Hmm. Interesting.

*pushes button*

*person in orange shirt drops through trap door*

Anyone else?

Good. Now that we’re all on the same proverbial page, let’s talk.

 

Some will say it varies. It depends on who is asking and what they’re asking. I’ll allow this line of reasoning. To a point. This is part of the issue.

I mean, really, if your boss asks you nicely (or not-so-nicely) to stay late, most people say, “Sure, you wretched piece of…” or probably just, “Sure.” Some people, like me for instance, say, “Of course! Not a problem!” Then those people, like me for instance, wonder what just happened.

If a friend wants help with a project, most people will probably help but they’ll be honest about what kind of time they have to offer. After all, their friend will understand. Some people, like me for instance, will sigh internally and not speak up about my lack of time and tell them to send it (if they haven’t already sent it because they know I’ll say yes).

It’s easier to say no to the bake sale request. Or so it would seem. But then some people, let’s say…um…me for example, begin thinking about the last time they assisted in any of their son’s school activities. Then, when they can’t remember (because it was like 7 months ago), say, “Absolutely!”

These answers come from negative emotions such as obligation or worry (employer), fear of upsetting someone (friend), and guilt (school).

For one who has not mastered the art of saying no, or even taken classes in it, this can be problematic regardless of the circumstances.

And for one who feels guilty or obligated or in some way responsible for making everyone happy, saying no to demands on your time can be damn near impossible. This is what I lovingly call The Yes Mess.

I want to scream. I want to scream loudly, “Hell, no! Are you kidding?! I couldn’t fit another thing into my schedule if I wanted to! I’m not a robot! Aaaahhhhh!” Or something like that. Instead, I say, “Sure! No problem!”

It is a problem.

I feel like this is linked to self-worth. By neglecting myself for others, I’m basically saying that other people’s projects, assignments, happiness, work, time, etc. are more important than my own. In other words, other people are more important than I am.

They’re not.

I need to remember that.

Instead of immediately saying yes to everything, I am making myself a promise to say, “Probably.” Or “I think so.” I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even close to a “no” but it’s as close as I can realistically get at the moment. Baby steps. Plus, this might make it easier to come back and say that I can’t.

If I’ve already agreed to something, that is even more difficult for me. I don’t want to let people down so I run myself into the ground making sure I do it. Or I let it slip through one of the numerous cracks in my life and feel horribly guilty.

So. If I say yes, I am giving myself permission to say, “I thought I could fit this in my schedule but I just can’t right now.”

I am not exaggerating when I say this stuff stresses me out, hurts my health, and keeps me up at night.

My health and well-being (and that of my family) must come before any demands on my time.

That’s really the end of that. Let’s see how this goes.

 

 

Have you mastered the art of saying “no”? If not, why? If so, how do you do it?

 

Don’t Tell Me Not to Sweat the Small Stuff

 

towel-1-sig

 

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”?

Dude, I’m damp. I am sweating all the small stuff. It’s what I do.

Please don’t tell me how small the stuff is (I know this) and how, when it comes down to it, it’s all small stuff (it can’t all be small), and not to sweat any of it (now I need a towel) because all you are doing is stressing me the hell right out.

There is strain, tension, external pressure in our lives. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have it.

We all react differently, of course, but it seems that those who tend to feel uncomfortable about this are vilified by those who do not.

When people stress, we are often told to “relax” or “take it easy”. Yet, when someone does not stress, we don’t tell them to “get upset” or “freak out”.

How is this fair?

When people announce how laid-back they are, it’s annoying. I mean, I can either see that you are or I can see that you’re trying to convince me (or yourself) that you are. Either way, it’s unnecessary information.

If you don’t mind, skip the pleasantries and just get the salt shaker and start pouring it into the wound. It is patronizing to tell someone who is distressed to “calm down”.

It’s so incredibly wonderful that people can be calm, cool, and collected in the face of a stressful situation. It’s good for their health and lovely for those around them.

I recognize that this works for a lot of people. What I’d absolutely love is for them to realize not everyone has the ability to do that.

And, as far as I know, people don’t enjoy being stressed.

Next time you see someone in distress, instead of telling them to “lighten up”, try asking them “what’s up?”

 

How many times has, “Just calm down” worked for you or, rather, for the person you’re saying it to? Do they calm down? If so, is it immediate? Be honest here…has it ever worked?

 

Appreciating Fragmented Beauty

 

Pink Clouds -sig

 

There’s still good in the world.

 

I see warm breezes

Hear growing grass

Smell blue skies

Feel songs of sparrows

 

Things are not right.

My world is out of alignment. Nothing is as it should be.

It’s difficult to find peace in turmoil, to appreciate the beauty around you when it’s fragmented by ugliness.

The world is broken.

People amaze me, after all these years, with their ability to be unkind. With all the ways they have perfected their unkindness.

 

I will not let this sink me.

Even if the good arrives a bit mixed-up, I will continue to take it in.

Because it is still there.

I have to believe it is still there.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

Do you ever wonder if there is any good left in this world? Are you able to find beauty and goodness around you in the midst of a difficult situation?

Letting the Light In

 

It’s dark outside.

 

2015 snow & shadows - sig

 

The occasional car casts shadows along my wall—its bright headlights a stark contrast to the dark around my desk.

I blink at the computer screen. It’s 4:52. I check the weather and see sunset was 4:14. So early.

I reach to flip the lamp on and hesitate. This darkness is reflecting my mood nicely. I realize it’s actually reflecting my life right now as well.

I close my laptop and sit, allowing myself to be swallowed by darkness.

I breathe deeply. I let the darkness in.

It is strangely calming, feeling the darkness in my life and inside myself.

I decide to embrace it. Knowing that tomorrow, the first day of Winter, brings light.

The Winter Solstice heralds the return of the Sun even as it seems we’re entering the dark half of the year. We’re not. Sunset will be later. Each day will hold a sliver of additional sunlight.

Having acknowledged the darkness, I will appreciate the light that much more.

While the Solstice has always been magical, tomorrow I will open myself up fully to the hope and brilliance the Sun offers.

I will let the light in.

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

Dark is not a bad thing—it’s just the flip side of light. It’s also a wonderful time to contemplate (and honor the introverted, introspective hermit I am).

I wish you all a wonderful Winter Solstice, full of love, light, and maybe a wee bit of magic.
I wish you all a very happy holiday and a beautiful season of light. ❤

P.S. Happy Summer Solstice to my peeps in the southern hemisphere—where everything I’ve said is flipped on its head.

 

 

One Leaf

 

There’s a tree outside my bedroom window with one leaf on it.

 

One Leaf - sig

 

This one leaf will not let go.

I mentioned I was on a journey to find my true colors. No longer hidden by green chlorophyll, this leaf found its color. It’s red.

But it’s not letting go.

Every morning, I see this stubborn autumn leaf. It hangs on, clinging to a thin branch.

I check on it after rain, after heavy winds—and there it is. Still on its tree in mid-December.

I said I was a leaf. I think I’m this one. The one that won’t let go.

Why am I holding on to who I was?

People change. Priorities change. Experiences shape and reshape us. Why do we resist?

Is it difficult to accept? Do we become complacent? Are we uncomfortable admitting we are not who we thought we were?

I’m thinking all of these are rooted in fear.

So, while I’ve found some of my true colors, I’m finding it difficult to let go.

A friend asked me why I continue thinking of myself as a woman I clearly no longer am. I didn’t have an answer.

But now I know that I am afraid.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

Do you have difficulty letting go of who you were? Why? What is stopping you from moving on?  

 

 

 

Introvert Powers…Activate!

 

When someone texts me to get together, my first inclination is to say “no”. My second inclination, which is nicer, says “no” and then gives an excuse.

 

Rain - sig

 

Here’s the thing: I often wind up saying “yes”.

My mind is screaming “NOOOO!” so I overcompensate, texting loudly (yes, you can do that), something like “That would be great!” or “Sounds fun!”

At that point, my poor brain is crying and shouting like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum: “No! No! NO! I said ‘no’ and you’re NOT LISTENING TO MEEE!”

Why do I agree to go?

Being an extreme introvert, I have to do this occasionally. I have to ignore the whimpering and wailing if I ever want to leave the house again.

Other times, though, I should really listen to myself. It’s the nice thing to do. Also, there are days I’m just not up for a night out and my brain seems to know this. It gloats “I told you so!” at the party as I hide in the bathroom with a bottle of wine.

When do I listen and when do I ignore? I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Have you?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

Are you an introvert? Do you battle with yourself about accepting invitations? Do you ever agree to do something or go somewhere you don’t want to? How does that work out? 


Envy and Honesty

 

Envy is never pretty. Not really all that helpful, either. (Except if it motivates you to go to the gym or something.) But I digress. I’ve been envious lately. Of the “good” writers, the funny tweeps, the people who have it all together. Because their blog and social media shows this, it must be true.

Then I received a DM.

An online friend was struggling.

I got an email. Then another. And another. They were all struggling. And I had no idea. I wrote back, sending supportive words and virtual hugs. But I felt helpless.

I also felt guilty. Here’s why.

Two of the people who contacted me were, less than a week before that, on my list. (My completely, utterly unfair list.) It was a long list, I must admit, because I am not doing well. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t keep up. And more is headed my way every day.

Although I should know better, I envied these people who had it all together. Who were juggling families, jobs, friends, writing, blogging, social media… Life. They were managing life. Without breaking a virtual sweat.

Ah. But there it is, right? Virtual. It’s difficult enough to recognize in real life people who are struggling. When you can hide behind a screen and type when you feel chipper or comment when you’re capable, no one can tell that you’re struggling.

Imagine my shock when one of these emails expressed a good-natured jab about how well I was doing because I was seemingly all around the blogosphere. Here I was drowning and someone thought I was winning the swim meet. Everyone is dealing with something—they may be fine, they may not be.

I know this. People post when they’re feeling okay. I should never have assumed. Needless to say, and yet I will, I should never have been envious of their ability to handle the world in the first place, virtual or not.

 

Sarah B rainy day - sig

 

Because September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, I thought it fitting to share this today. I’m checking my envy at the door. Giving what I can, when I can. Being there.

And asking “How are you?”

 

Writers & Semicolons

 

As writers, we can kill off our characters with a fictional flourish.

We wouldn’t have our heroine receive a mysterious call in the middle of the night, or get a desperate text at 2 AM, or craft a dialogue with something as boring and unoriginal as “I want to kill myself”. Why? Because it’s cliché. We edit, revise, polish, and proofread. We make sure it. Is. Fantastic.

But suicide happens here—outside of books and stories.

A call comes in at 2 AM because nights are notoriously difficult.

A text reads, “I need you” because, sometimes, people actually do need you.

A partner says, “I can’t take it anymore” because there are times he feels that he can’t handle life one more minute.

A friend confesses, “I want to kill myself” because she wants to die.

These things happen. They happen because there are people in pain who want to escape and can see no other way out. And, because, when it comes to real life, clichés are not forbidden.

 

semicolon Sarah B. B&W

 Show your semicolon.
Because it’s not over.

Pay attention to cries for help. No matter what they say or when they arrive. Don’t assume anything.

Sometimes all you have to do is listen. Sometimes you have to act. Sometimes you have to seek help to help another.

Reach out. Your hand is powerful. It can hold, lift, or comfort.

It can make a statement.

Join the movement to honor, encourage, and support those who have kept going.

The Semicolon Project brings hope through a symbol of continuation.

Project Semicolon“A semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

Project Semicolon

Wear your semicolon tomorrow: April 16, 2015.

Show your support.

Tell the world your story is not over yet.

@ProjSemicolon

#ProjectSemicolon

#SemicolonProject

#TheSemicolonProject

#SemicolonProject416

 

I Belong in a Forest

 

I can’t move. I’m literally petrified. People are going to start paying to walk through my house, stare at me, and chip off a piece of petrified mum when they think no one is looking.ThoughtBubble

I am afraid of making decisions, of making the wrong move. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m questioning my choice of socks. Are these too thick? Should I wear the black ones or brown ones? Those are too thin. I think. Wait. Are those too thin? Honey? Hello?

I’ve been here before. I’ll admit it. But it’s not where I live. So in addition to the uncomfortable, twisting feeling in my gut that I’m going to make a horrible mistake in footwear, I have the uncomfortable, dizzy feeling in my head that I’m being a flighty, indecisive flake. Which I am.

Sometimes I find myself in this place. I don’t always know what brought me here—the major issues or the buildup of minor annoyances. But, alas, I’m here. And I have to find my way home.

The irony is that when you’re nervous about which way to go, you get stuck. Then you write posts that say, “I can’t move…”

 

Petrified

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.