Today I want to share with you some tips to recover from stress. It’s not easy owning up to the fact that we are struggling. Ignoring it and hoping that things will get better doesn’t really help either. Keeping on trying to push through and get to the other side doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t always happen. Maybe you feel like there’s too much to do and there’s not enough time to stop. Or maybe, you feel unconfident because others seem to be coping with their workloads.
Here’s the thing- everyone has a different amount of responsibility that they can handle and everyone deals with stress completely differently. We all experience stress in different ways, we experience the symptoms in different ways and we all have different levels of coping. That doesn’t make us bad, worse, better or stronger – it’s just a different way of experiencing stress. Rest assured, those that are comfortable and appear to be coping are likely to hit a wall someplace as well. Or they’ve got different coping mechanisms to be able to catch up later on.
So if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, burnt out or exhausted – don’t beat yourself up. You’re not being overdramatic, you’re not incompetent and you’re not lazy. You probably just need a rest and it’s a rest that you deserve. It’s a rest you are entitled to and it is a rest that you certainly need in order to sustain your energy, your proficiency and your productivity. You need that rest. Stress and burnout will only get worse if you keep trying to push through them. So here are some things you can do to help yourself recover from those really intense periods.
How to destress
Now one of the things I like to do is go to a pump class where I’m pumping weights and doing lots of activity. One of the things that the instructor will quite often talk about is active recovery. I love that term. What they’re referring to is keeping the body moving but slowly toning down the pressure that you’re putting on the body. So, you’re recovering from the massive load you put on your muscles and your body- but you’re still active and still moving forward. So it kind of feels like you get to rest while you move forward. I want you to think about that in the context of stress and managing your own emotional, mental and physical energy.
The way that you can incorporate active recovery into your working life or your personal life is to think about the low energy activities you can engage in. Rather than absolutely falling in a heap and collapsing, there are ways that you can still create some momentum. So if you’re having an off day because you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out you can try active recovery. There may be times when you’re unable to concentrate, feel fatigued and are not getting enough sleep- which is all sign of burnout. Rather than pushing through and making it worse and exasperating the problem, focus on what are the tasks you can do that don’t require a lot of physical and mental energy. What are the most simple, mind-numbing tasks that you can do?
The other thing you can do is to ‘name it’. Name what you’re feeling. Name what the stress is presenting itself to you as. Identify and objectify this stress and put it out there. Research has shown that when you name the feelings and issues you experience you build greater resilience to those stressors. It creates a different response in our brain that helps us cope with stress. There is no benefit in being hard on yourself for having a difficult time or avoiding negative sensations. Instead, identify how you are feeling, what it is and give it a name. Perhaps you feel like there is no time to pause in order to do that. But by identifying the sensation you become more aware of your triggers.
Listen to your body
The next tip is to actually listen to your body. The most important thing that we can do to maintain energy, preserve energy and to re-energise ourselves is to recognize the signs and symptoms of how stress manifests in us. Remember, everybody experiences stress differently. How do you know if you’re having an off day? How do you know if you’re not working to your best ability? For me, I know that I push myself too hard when my brain is not functioning or I’m feeling really tired and drained. In those moments I know I have to take a rest. So, what I do is commit to two hours of hard work and then give myself permission to stop.
Work on identifying what your triggers are and how to identify when your body reacts to these triggers. So what are these triggers for you? Where can you identify those sensations of starting to feel too wound up? Sometimes, you can feel tense in your shoulders. Then, there are certainly body aches. Tight hips from sitting down on my desk for too long is another signal of stress manifesting in my body.
Identify moments where you’re pushing yourself too hard. Make sure you take some moments of rest during these moments. Get a cup of tea or coffee. Sit outside in the sun if there’s sunlight where you are. At the least, take in the environment and landscape around you. Slow down your breathing and allow your body and mind to recuperate. You might not want to take that time off because you are so busy but rest assured you will be far more productive if you allow your battery to recharge.
I’d love to hear from you about your tips for active recovery. How do you recover from burnout while still keeping a little bit of momentum? What advice would you give to somebody else? What has worked for you, and when has it not worked? Let me know in the comments below.
- Engage in easy, simple and mind-numbing activities
- Identify your stressors and triggers
- Be aware of how your body reacts to stress
- Take breaks during intense moments
- Lose confidence or feel incompetent
- Give up
- Compare yourself to others
Need more tips for Burnout recovery? Book a call for a strategy session.