Stress is a biological term for the consequences of the failure of a human or animal to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined. It includes a state of alarm and adrenaline production, short-term resistance as a coping mechanism, and exhaustion. Common stress symptoms include irritability, muscular tension, inability to concentrate and a variety of physical reactions, such as headaches and elevated heart rate.
Simply put…stress is what happens to our bodies when it is exposed to anything-The bad: disease, loss of loved one, heat, cold, economic hardship. The good- having a baby, getting married, starting a new job. Some of our most memorable moments can also be our most stressful.
Here lies a question…If we experience stress under good and bad things that happen to us, how does this stress…good or bad…effect our body? Some things we may experience are sweaty palms, our hearts may race, we may feel sick to our stomach. these are just some of the things we may feel. But what is going on with our body systems? Cortisone and adrenaline are being dumped into our bloodstream, then in our liver it too is adding more sugar into our blood. This now stimulates our hearts to contract, constricts blood vessels and causes our blood pressure to increase as well as muscle tension.
We have 3 different types of stress we might experience.
- Acute: this is a temporary stress. We trudge through these short trials knowing they are her today and gone tomorrow…only temporary. We all deal with them day to day.
- Chronic: This is long term It will chip away at us day after day, week after week, month after month…you get the picture.The real sad part of this type of stress is we tend to ignore it because it is always present with us. The effects are still there though…the physical ones and this is the one we need to be most aware of.
- Traumatic: As it sounds, this is when we have faced a tragedy of sorts. Te way we are effected can and does vary drastically according to event and the person. Some can deal and move on quickly, some may never heal from it at all.
What type of person is more likely to reach a burnout level? Simply put it is those that set high goals and ideals. Professor Fumiaki Inaoka who wrote the book Burnout Syndrome: “Those who are inclined to burn out have strong tendencies to be sympathetic, human, delicate, dedicated, and idealistic. They are not machine oriented but ‘human oriented,’ so to speak.”
Who are especially vulnerable?
- Social Workers
On a regular basis they try to help others to improve their lives in some form or another but the burnout sets in when they realize they are not achieving the unattainable goals they may have set for themselves. In here also lies a control issue. We cannot control actions of others and our caring for them whether patients, clients or children we have high expectations for ourselves, thus we also have them for those we are trying to help.
The book Burnout Syndrome: adds “these daily hassles constitute the greatest influence toward their burnout.” The unresolved problems continue to build up thus leading to burnout.
Another factor we need to consider in burnout is not having someone we can confide in. This is a real danger for Moms who either work from home or are stay-at-home Moms. they may find themselves isolated with no where to go for confidential talk.
The last factor to look at with the potential of burnout is having a feeling of helplessness. This then can lead itself to feeling unappreciated. Wives whose husbands fail to acknowledge the amount of time and effort that is put into keeping a home and caring for the children are ideal candidates for burnout. Managers who overlook a job well done but rather always focus on what needs to be improved are setting their employees up for possible burnout. When we are shown appreciation for a job well done we feel as if we are useful, we matter and then we are motivated to continue and work harder making more improvements.
The more we know about ourselves and the dangers of stress and thus leading to distress and then burnout the easier it is for us to deal with the problems that aid to each condition. There are other things we can do to also help in these areas. To be a help BEFORE the need arises.
What are some things we might do to help combat or even ward off stress?
- Get enough rest each day
- Eat a balanced diet
- Set some time aside for you
- Acknowledge your physical and emotional limitations
- Exercise daily…even if only 15 – 30 minutes and build from there
- If you are worried…confide in a close friend or your spouse
- Delegate some of your to-do list
- Spend quality time with your family
- Make reasonable goals…work away from the perfectionist mentality
- Cultivate mildness and patience
- Surround yourself with things that make you smile
- Take charge of your schedule and schedule the necessary things at less-stressful times