Stress and Burnout
The stress response, otherwise known as the "fight or flight response" evolved as a means of enhancing the survival of immediate threats in the environment. The response changes the priorities in your body, devoting most of your resources to surviving the next few minutes - either by running away or by fighting.
Unfortunately, in the modern world many different types of situation can activate the stress response, causing it to be activated throughout the day. As well, most modern stressors are best dealt with by remaining calm and thinking clearly, not by running or fighting.
Result: Many of us live with constantly elevated levels of stress. And this stress actually impairs our ability to cope with the difficulties we face. What started as a helper response has become a powerful hindrance.
Stress Management Skills
At Changeways Clinic, we train people in a variety of stress management skills to help them moderate the stress response. These strategies include:
- Applied Relaxation. Diaphragmatic breathing, progressive and passive relaxation, and cue-controlled relaxation are among the strategies we employ.
- Cognitive Challenging. If we are constantly stressed, it is because we are constantly perceiving that we are threatened. Often our perception is skewed: the situation is not as critical as we think it is. In effect, we sweat the small stuff. With cognitive challenging, you learn how you magnify stressors and how to talk back to that anxious voice.
- Lifestyle Management. Unhealthy lifestyles appear to leave people more vulnerable to stress. Proper diet, good sleep habits, and adequate exercise are all important stress management techniques.
- Situation Management. Many of us get into the same stressful situations again and again - by picking the wrong jobs, by procrastinating, by overspending until we are on the financial brink, or by generally neglecting to change course when we are headed for trouble. We work with you to identify the most common situational difficulties you face, then help you work on problem solving and habit correction to get these on track.
- Effective Communication. Most modern stressors are helped immeasurably with calm, clear, assertive communication. Once you know your most common stressful situations, you can work with your counselor to identify and practice new strategies.
Well, no. Stress is an inherent aspect of modern life, and the stress response is a part being human (and will prove useful at least once or twice in your lifetime).
The goal is effective stress management, not stress elimination. And the research indicates that if you put the above strategies into practice, you can indeed experience much less distress.