Green smoothies don’t cure burnout. What? They don’t? And the answer is, unfortunately, no.
I preach self care, often in the form of a bubble bath, a green smoothie or some yoga, but the truth of the matter is, often times this just isn’t enough. AND, its just another thing to add to the list.
So what is burnout? Its more than stress. It’s what a psychologist coined in 1970s as these three components:
- Emotional exhaustion: the fatigue that comes from caring too much for long;
- Depersonalization: the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion; and
- Decreased sense of accomplishment: an unconquerable sense of futility: feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.
Sound familiar? It certainly does to me. This is the middle of the tunnel of stress. Often times we never leave the tunnel because we don’t know how to complete the stress response cycle. One of the biggest problems is that our stressors often don’t change, and because of that we just power through and don’t do anything to relieve the stress of how we are feeling. One of mine is wanting a clean house, and having children who rebel against this. So, everyday the stressor is the same. I beg and plead, get mad, and then do it myself. To complete the stress cycle I would have to do something, physically to metaphorically wring out the washcloth that hold the stress hormones. The most efficient way of doing this would be physical activity.
Here are some ways that you can “complete the cycle.”
Breathing. Long slow breaths. Breathing is most effective in mid level stress. Mid level would be everyday stress. Not like level 10 stress. Maybe you are in the middle of a stressful meeting and need to just reconnect with yourself and let go. This would be an excellent intervention.
Positive social interaction. This is sign that the world is a safe place. Even talking to random people, like having a nice exchange with your barista at Starbucks or chatting it up with someone in line.
Laughter. Real laughter. Belly Laughs. When we laugh we use an ancient system that regulates emotions.
Affection. Deep connection with a loving partner, friend or family member. Physical affection is great, but again, it can be just the connected-ness. A 20 second hug has a ton of positive effects that include teaching your body it is safe. If you are in a relationship, a 6-second kiss can also have the same effect.
A tear jerker movie that you know will make you cry. This allow your body to go through the complete emotional cycle.
Creativity. The arts create a context that tolerates big emotions.
Want to learn more about burnout and the stress cycle? Listen to Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast on stress. Want even more? Order Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski.