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Understanding and Managing Stress: First Step Toward a Better Life

Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives, but being aware of it is the crucial first step towards finding a better and more balanced life. Effective stress management is essential to prevent feeling stuck and burnt out, which can impede our progress and make us feel inadequate. This sense of inadequacy can make our goals seem far out of reach, but they are often much closer than we think.

Changing Your Perception for Better Stress Management

When I begin working with new clients, we often start by changing their perception of stress. It’s similar to the warning on side view mirrors in your car: "objects are closer than they appear." Stress can often feel worse than it actually is.

Recently, a colleague reached out to me for advice about a client who seemed to be experiencing burnout. This collaboration among professionals is beneficial as it ultimately serves our clients best. It also highlighted how much stress we experience without being fully aware of it, particularly in high-pressure professions where back-to-back meetings, endless emails, and constant demands are the norm. Effective stress management can help mitigate these impacts and improve work-life balance. Understanding and overcoming burnout is essential for maintaining a balanced life.

Understanding and Managing Stress

The Cumulative Effect of Stress and Its Management

Stress can feel like death by a thousand cuts, gradually accumulating until it becomes a permanent state. To help my clients gain awareness and practice stress management, I often ask them to rate their burnout on a scale from 1 to 5 (5=high). If you're 3 or higher, it’s time to pay closer attention. Let’s explore the stages of stress:

  1. Honeymoon Phase of Stress: This phase resembles the happy stress associated with positive events like planning a wedding. You might feel optimistic and a bit nervous, with free-flowing creativity and high productivity. This phase can boost your energy and satisfaction as you tackle new challenges. Effective stress management can keep this phase productive.

  2. Onset of Stress:  At this stage, you might start noticing changes in your lifestyle and diet, neglecting personal needs, experiencing higher blood pressure, and lower productivity. Early signs of anxiousness, headaches, and forgetfulness may appear, and healthy habits may start to slip. Stress management techniques become crucial here.

  3. Chronic Stress: Chronic stress leads to increased consumption of coffee or alcohol and indulging in counterproductive coping mechanisms like excessive shopping or watching TV. Procrastination, social withdrawal, irritability, chronic exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and disengagement from work become common. Effective stress management can prevent these behaviors from becoming entrenched.

  4. Burnout: This phase involves complete neglect of personal needs, self-doubt, social isolation, chronic mental and physical issues, and emotional emptiness. You might experience a lack of alignment between your thoughts and actions, creating dis-ease, which can lead to actual disease if not addressed. Stress management is vital at this stage to recover.

  5. Chronic Burnout: Chronic burnout feels unrelenting, cycling through periods like the holidays, New Year, and busy seasons, leading to extreme mental and physical fatigue and potentially burnout syndrome. It can feel like there's no way out, but stress management provides hope and a pathway to recovery.

Understanding and Managing Stress

Taking Control Through Stress Management

When I experienced burnout and ended up in the emergency room, I decided to take control of my well-being through effective stress management. It took time, but now I have a process to help others. Being aware of your stress level is the first step to recovery. The life you want is closer than you think, and you have more power than you realize.

Assessing Your Stress Level

Take a moment to assess where you are on this scale. Are you in the honeymoon phase, onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout, or chronic burnout? Awareness is the first step to change. Don’t wait for someone else to fix your life or for a new job to magically make things better. There’s no magic formula, but there is a process for effective stress management.

Taking the first step towards managing your stress can be daunting, but with awareness and the right support, you can achieve a balanced and fulfilling life. Effective stress management is key to overcoming burnout and achieving your goals, which is why work-life balance is important. Learn more about delegation strategies to manage stress and improve your well-being.  For additional insights on stress symptoms and management techniques, you might find the Mayo Clinic's guide on stress management very helpful.

Understanding and managing your stress levels is crucial for maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life. High stress levels can lead to burnout, making it difficult to cope with both work and personal commitments. Effective stress management is essential to prevent feeling overwhelmed and stuck.

As a coach specializing in helping professionals—particularly women in stressful roles—I offer tailored support to help you understand and manage your stress levels. By assessing where you are on the stress scale and adopting new techniques, you can significantly reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Begin your journey to a more balanced and fulfilling life. Schedule a consultation call with me. Together, we'll work on strategies that help you manage your stress levels, realign your daily routines, and rejuvenate your career.

Burnout Coaching with Lauren Baptiste



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