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?

 

Without Apologies

 

blue-sky-clouds-and-trees-sig

 

If you miss one or two of my blog posts, I will not accept your apology.

People comment, email, and DM to apologize for not visiting my blog or doing so a week or more after I’ve posted.

For the love of all that is covered in chocolate, please stop.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s very sweet (the chocolate and your apology). And I’ll admit I’ve done this myself to fellow bloggers.

Of course I like seeing you here but, if you can’t make it, it’s all good.

If I don’t see you for a long while, I might inquire. But, if I do, it’s out of curiosity or concern not anger or upset.

Every once in a while (or more often), we get overwhelmed in the blogging world. We can’t keep up. Either with writing our own posts, reading others’ posts, commenting, or replying to comments.

It’s. All. Good.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I don’t know how many times I’ve blogged about this but I don’t care. I’ll blog it again. I’m a broken record. Whatever.

I do not believe blogging should be a source of stress in people’s lives. And, yes, we are people. With lives. Outside the bloody internet.

Sometimes, we can’t catch up and need to rid ourselves of guilt and empty our inbox. I think we’ve all been there. Or most of us, anyway.

I will not tell you that you’re doing something wrong or not doing enough.

I won’t.

You’re good. Just like that.

But I also will not tell you you’re wrong for wanting to be everywhere and do everything. Sometimes, we do this to ourselves.

So, if you really feel the need, you could pop over here and leave a smiley face and I’ll know you were drowning in notifications. Then I could save you, you know? It’d be a secret code or something.

I’ll drop by your blog and leave you a life vest.

 

 

I’m not even going to ask.

If you’re overwhelmed, stressed, falling behind in the blogging world…take a breath, empty your inbox, and throw away the guilt. If people get upset about you missing a couple of their posts or not replying to their comment…well… *shrugs*

You’re all good here. Cheers, gentle readers.

 

Breathe In, Breathe Out… Check Twitter, Answer Emails

 

Meditation Beach - sig

 

I’m meditating.

Yay, me.

I’ve tried this before but never stuck with it.

Meditation has always felt like a hand-me-down sweater that looked pretty on my older sister but never fit me quite right.

So, recently, I ditched the books and switched on my phone.

That’s right. I’d decided to turn my phone off to reduce stress. Now I’m going to turn it on again (first thing in the morning—fab way to start the day) with emails, calendars, and social media waiting to pop up and bury me in notifications. Why? To reduce stress, of course.

A soft voice is telling me to take a deep breath in…and out…in…and out, feeling the stress melt away as I become mindful of the TEXT MESSAGE: WHAT TIME IS YOUR DR APPT? in…and out…notice your breath rising and falling…rising…falling…TWITTER: SOMEONE LIKED ONE OF YOUR TWEETS! notice where the tension in your body is…WORDPRESS: NEW COMMENT WAITING APPROVAL ON LEMON SHARK REEF!

Cell phones are an odd place to go for relaxation.

Yet, here we are. Or, as I like to say, “It has come to this.” The digital generation where everything you could ever want is waiting on your home screen.

‘Tis true. There’s an app for pretty much everything now (but that’s another barrel of bananas).

There are tons of meditation apps out there ranging in focus (housework, walking, commuting, work, pregnancy…) and price (free, $100/year, $30/year, $3.99 one-time purchase…). With all the choices available, I’m overwhelmed. I’m spending a lot of time sifting through them. I’m having difficulty choosing one. It’s starting to stress me out.

I don’t write about irony a lot but a lot of things I write are ironic.

This is one of them.

First, turning on a device that’s distracting and stressful to become mindful and reduce stress.

Second, trying to choose one in the enormous collection of meditation apps saturating the virtual world.

Yes, I can turn off my notifications when I meditate. Then turn them all back on. Every. Single. Time. Yeah, that won’t happen. And phones ring with, like, phone calls. Yes, I can turn my ringer off. That won’t happen, either. Also, they have handy things like reminders, notes, and to-do lists that screech, “LOOK AT ME! I’M IMPORTANT!” And you have to yell back at them that you’re on your way to Calm and you’ll get to them later and, by that point, you’ve lost your way.

 

“How do I get to Calm?”

“Oh, that’s easy. Go to the corner of Distraction and Stress. Take a sharp right onto Digital Way, where you’ll see notes, reminders, and to-do lists. Pass those and keep going straight until you reach Relaxing Scenery. If you don’t like that space, you can dive into the scum-covered Decision Pond and wade through until you find a new Calm. Good luck!”

 

So. It has come to this.

 

Do you meditate? If so, have you ever used an app? How is that working for you? (Feel free to drop the name of the app in the comments if you like it. Thank you kindly.) Whether you meditate or not, what are your thoughts on using an app for this practice?

 

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?

 

What Am I Searching For?

 

On a walk yesterday, I had my phone out snapping pictures of new plants poking out of the earth and fresh, green leaves sprouting from dead-looking brown branches.

ThoughtBubbleI was also moving leaves with my feet to find rocks for my children. They love rocks. Actually, so do I. Rocks are awesome—all different shapes, sizes, colors. Some sparkle with mica, some glisten with quartz. Plus, they feel nice in your pocket. They’re grounding.

So there I was, stopped on my little walk, when an older gentleman in jogging pants came walking up to me. “Are you searching for something?” He looked a bit like he was approaching a badger.

I smiled as brightly as I could, “Just enjoying the spring weather and looking for pretty rocks for my kids.”

He shifted, clearly uncomfortable. Then just stood there.

“Oh,” he finally managed. Then he shook his head and started walking again, saying “okay…” as he got up some speed.

Am I searching for something? Yes. The energy and clarity I get from walking. And gifts from nature for my children.

But, clearly, I need to get some of those workout clothes I was thinking of buying last season.

 

Searching for Spring

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Reduce Your Stress by Leaving Your Smartphone ON

 

Whether you’re having a full-blown panic attack or simply feeling a bit overwhelmed, you could stand to get rid of some stress in your life. I just know it.

Many articles I read suggest the same thing: unplug. ThoughtBubble

They advocate silencing your phone, getting rid of your apps, turning off alerts.

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m keeping everything and keeping it on.

Turning all these off makes me anxious. I worry whether that appointment is today and, if so, what time it is and, crap, what if I’m late because we’re playing Boggle. What if I miss that call, text, or email I’ve been waiting for?

If I set my phone up to check my email, guess what I’m not doing? If I set it up to alert me an hour before an appointment, I can be in the moment because I won’t be watching the clock. It gives me peace of mind.

Am I relying too much on my phone? You bet. But, for now, it’s working.

There are times I need a break—I mute my phone or turn it off completely. I get it. I really do. But, sometimes, reducing my stress means not unplugging.

 

Unplugging

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Workout Clothes Mandatory for Walking

 

I’m thinking of buying workout clothes. Like those running tights or trendy exercise tops or something. Because when I’m out walking in “regular” clothes, jeans and a fleece for example, I get the strangest looks. ThoughtBubble

I smile at people. Some don’t smile back. Some hesitantly half-smile—like they’ve just remembered their manners. They appraise me head to toe. (I’m not that interesting to look at.) I’m clearly offending them in some way by wearing everyday clothing. Like I’m mocking their exercise routine. Or maybe they’re simply confused. Their looks seem to say:

What the hell are you doing? 

Did your car break down? 

If I’m in jeans, I can’t possibly be exercising. And, apparently, simply going for a walk to enjoy the outdoors or get some fresh air is unfathomable. I don’t even wear sneakers, usually, so let’s call this walk what it is: a stroll. What the frick is wrong with strolling? It stills my whirring mind and grounds me. Plus, sun shining through pine trees is pretty.

Hey, ladies in the matching jogging suits…stop and smell the pinecones.

What’s the deal?

Forget dinosaurs and dodo birds, we’ll be saying “It’s gone the way of the walk” sometime soon.

 

Sunrays in Pine

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Insomnia and Putting Your Finger Up Your Nose

 

Did I say “up”? I meant “on”. Shameful trickery. ThoughtBubble

I have insomnia. I’ve tried everything. And although I (rightfully) complain when I have a cold, I am secretly happy at the end of the day because I get to take NyQuil, which helps me fall asleep.

This time of year can be extra joyful and stressful. So here’s a tip I’m thrilled to share with my fellow insomniacs and stressed-out peeps. Are you ready?

Breathe.

I’m not being cheeky—it’s special breathing.

This special kind of breathing, Pranayama, has been around for thousands of years. I’ve known about it for at least ten years and have used it for calming and de-stressing but I’ve only just started using it at night to fall asleep.

Clearly, I’m not sitting with a straight spine and smiling like you’re supposed to—slumped on my pillow with an I-can’t-sleep frown—and yet, magic! It still works.

No need for special gear (or talent, for that matter). It’s wicked easy. And free. All you need is a nose and fingers. And lungs.

Try it. You won’t be sorry.

The Art of Living

Yoga in Daily Life

Yoga Outlet

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.