Exercise · Health · Healthy Choices · Stress

Stress – and burn out

I’m a tad stressed.

I suppose the good news is I am aware of it, I am aware it is affecting me negatively, I know where the stress is coming from and I am trying to do something about it.

That’s all positive stuff.

Of course there is such a beast as positive stress, but that isn’t what I’m talking about here.

In March this year, the American Psychological Association, reported that 25% of Americans  were experiencing high levels of stress, scoring 8 or more on a 10 point stress scale. A further 50% scored higher than 5. I bet if I looked for the UK version – it would have a similar story.

The stress response in a body is a carefully orchestrated dance between certain areas of the brain – amygdala and hypothalamus and hormones – which responds to stressful stimuli, either physical or psychological in nature with such honed proficiency that it happens before conscious thought takes it all on board.

Scientific research has shown how repeated stress events, or recurrent low level stress reponse’s can wreak havoc with a body, it’s functioning and health.

Just last night, I read a post on my own facebook page, posted by a social worker friend of mine – the post was a report in how to spot burn out in social workers – and noted the top 15 signs that burn is happening and what to look for.

signs of burnout

I easily had 12 of those signals.

This is no great surprise, the single thing I have been very good at, all of my life, has been getting stressed, staying stressed, & living with stress as a constant companion – so that even the most mundane of everyday issues, like letting pototoes over boil in a pan – is played out as if an earthquake of 9.9 was happening right under me.

I said it before to no avail – I can’t live like this anymore!!!

I have been living with the effects of a virus these last 5 weeks, that feels for all the world as if flu is about to set in, but never does – it has ground me down and I now feel that I don’t want to spend another waking day with it – because I know that this supposed virus is just my body’s manifestation to the genuine stresses that are happening ‘out there’; stresses that are largely outside my scope of control.

God only knows what other damage is rampaging around my body, undeterred. And I have come to the conclusion that I may not be able to change what is happening ‘out there’, but I can try and mitigate the effects – do something at long last instead of just suffering in silence, hoping that it will stop, or go away or somehow some miracle will occur and it won’t bedevil me again.

Clearly the ‘hoping’ strategy is a pretty poor one.

So now there comes a time for a more active strategy.

I certainly don’t have the all the answers – but I do have an action plan of sorts.

First off, was to try and shore up the physical damage – in order to eradicate  the lingering would-be viral attack – I started taking a cocktail of supplements a) to help boost my immune system to fight the acute issue and b) to give a more long lasting support to help me not succumb so easily to anything else.

And I can report that that has helped – I feel much better. Top of my list has been a healthy full force dose of vit C  3 times a day,  then a daily dose of zinc, and lysine plus a full strength dose of vit D- I actually take more than the allowed dose of Vit D on doctors orders.

More than a week since I started this regime, the viral symptoms have faded, however, they came back too easily I realised, if I didn’t pair this regime with enough sleep.

Sleep when you’re stressed can be elusive – but you can exacerbate all the ill effects of sleep deprivation by going to bed too late and having to rise early, meaning you are robbing yourself of much needed shut-eye -and so last week I started to force myself to wrap up  my the evening as early as possible, in order to pack in as much sleep as I could – I find getting to sleep much easier than staying asleep – I have an unhappy habit of waking up at 2am – so the more sleep I can get under my belt before then, the better I handle it. Without sufficient sleep all those supplements may as well go straight in the bin.

Feeling fluey doesn’t endear you to doing exercise – but I decided that once I felt just a little improved, I would bring back my run which I had halted since the viral symptoms arrived. I didn’t want to make myself worse by exercising too soon – but nor did I want to leave the exercise regime for too long either. My first run this weekend was hard but I immediately felt better for having started a gentle intro in to getting back on it.

The exercise high isn’t a myth  – and the pick me up value of the post run high helped enormously to counter the crushing feeling that the stress response brings.

For me – the response these days is hair trigger quick but takes days and days to subside – running helps to manage that response for me far better than any other activity I might employ.

This is my starting point – from here I don’t want to slip back in to my usual pattern of hoping it will all go away, because it doesn’t- so what I do next is important.

As I type I am not 100% what my best course is – but I am giving it my attention – and I will come back with more on this subject – because it isn’t going to be silenced, this stress – I am already at burn out, and I can feel it

Just like I have enjoyed getting some measure of health back – I want to keep it that way – and that means changing substantially not just how I deal with my life – but even perhaps how my life deals with me

more again soon……. Heather is a wip!

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