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We have recently looked into the matter of “How to spot if a member of the team is close to burnout”. In this edition we will focus on how to break the cycle of chronic stress.
When there was a discussion around how to manage stress, тhe advices, that I used to get were – take a break, use these techniques for relaxation, start meditation, physical activity or adopt a healthy lifestyle in general. And these were all very useful advices, however, it was very difficult to start with any of those advices. Especially with the healthy lifestyle! It was so overwhelming!
Imagine that you haven’t made any physical activities for years and you decide to run the marathon tomorrow. It is not going to work. You will feel overwhelmed and give up very quickly.
In fact – breaking the cycle starts with awareness. The first thing that needs to happen is to realize and acknowledge our condition. The second thing is to decide to do something about it.
Many years ago, I found myself in the chronic stress cycle. The reason was that I was working a demanding job including also travel, I was raising 2 small kids and needed to take care of home and family. A short vacation in the summer was everything that I had. Every working parent of small kids would recognize the challenges– being exhausted, rarely having enough time for yourself, always in the rush. I had a great support during the day by my parents-in-law and I’ll be forever grateful for it. Still, the help was there while I was actually working, not resting. So after working hours, the challenge was to manage my small kids’ agenda. On top – one of them didn’t sleep well at night keeping me awake for hours. I didn’t have the time for physical activities, I didn’t have time for any activities. I was not paying attention to my appearances. I was not paying attention to what I was eating.
One day, it downed on me – I was in a constant state of chronic stress and didn’t want to continue living like this anymore. Many years have passed since then, but I still remember the day that I have decided that I’m going to do something about it.
I started with something very small. It was small but it was the most important at that time. I have always had a backpain and over the years the stress tends to accumulate in the weak areas in my body. When I got exhausted, the backpain got worsened. I decided to do something and change this. I went to a full-body massage (I haven’t had a massage in years) and it was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had. But it was worth it. I took the advice to exercise on a daily basis and committed to physical activities to address my back pain. It was painful but my determination and commitment kept me going. Over a period of one month of daily practice I have managed to improve my backpain condition and I started feeling much better.
It was really interesting that by changing this one thing I have focused my attention to “me” and helped myself moving out of the chronic stress cycle.
This was the start of the process and I have gradually added other improvements to my routine until it completely changed. It took a lot of time but I was only concentrated in adding one thing at a time. You might be faster than me, you may try to add more things to your routine but if you notice that you get overwhelmed, go back to less and consistent than more and irregular.
In summary what helped me were these seven steps:
Coaching is a great way to raise awareness and to work on your way forward. You do not need to do this alone – we can support you.
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