What is stress?
Stress is when the person perceives that the demands on them exceed their resources. There is also a secondary definition which is the emotional, mental or physical strain or tension.
How do we recognize stress?
Stress shows up differently for each of us, but most commonly it presents as irritability. It can also show up as depression and anxiety. There are also physical signs such as headaches, migraines, stomach aches, and heart attacks.
The first sign though is going into that irritability and exhaustion. When we experience stressor after stressor and don’t process them, we have a breakdown or blow up.
We’ve been trained to ignore our emotions, to feel them later, but not now. When those instances come up, we go back to the mindset of picking ourselves up by the bootstraps and going forward.
Start feeling emotions and let them pass through.
Recognizing the Physical Signs of Stress
An exercise that works to help identify how stress physically affects you is to look in the mirror and say something to yourself that you know will cause stress. Feel the emotion. Where do you feel it, and where does it show up in your body?
Then, do the same exercise, but say something pleasant and kind to yourself.
It’s important to know the difference between good feelings of excitement and feelings of stress.
Think of it as a mind-body connection exercise.
Stress is unique for everyone.
What is burnout and how can we prevent it?
Burnout can show up in a variety of ways but the most common is irritation and exhaustion. To the point of “I hate everything, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t have the energy for this anymore.”
When in burnout, everything feels to hard and so heavy.
Burnout requires a different set of tools than stress. We can’t prevent it at this time. People who experience burnout often get sick. Burnout takes a lot more time and energy to overcome than recognizing and alleviating stress.
If we take the pickup by the bootstraps approach to managing stress, we’ll end up in burnout.
The First Phase
Her real story started at the age of 12. At that time her mother dated a man who was abusive. He broke into their home and shot and killed her mom’s new boyfriend and her mother. Her mother was not expected to survive, but she did.
While her mother made a full recovery, Carlee struggled with PTSD for years. She didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want to bother her family. When she finally did open up, people only asked her to try the latest mainstream resolutions.
For ten years she struggled with this and nothing worked to move her to a place of joy. This is when Carlee ended up in a state of burnout.
Her second phase began when she discovered that there is no one-size fits all approach to stress management.
The Second Phase
Carlee recognized that she was ready to give up and wanted to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get the help they need so that they don’t get to the point Carlee got to. This is how the Stress Less Company began.
Exercises for Stress Management
Carlee tried anything and everything. At the time, creativity and drawing were what released her from the burnout mindset.
Creative Stress Reduction
Creative stress reduction is any activity that gets us out of fight, flight, or freeze mode to a state of play or flow.
People make poor decisions when in a state of stress. The first step to get to what is going on is to get out of the fight, flight, or freeze mode.
One of the most common things Carlee experiences when working with entrepreneurs is that they go to fight or flight and assume that people are not going to hire them, they are ghosting them, etc. It’s important to take a step back and reach out to follow up instead of ruining a relationship.
How to Find Your Creative Activity for Reducing Stress
Once you have identified your creative activity, you can identify and recognize the stressors. We have to identify the triggers to avoid them or handle them going forward.
Start with a list of one hundred items that you love doing. It can be anything. No editing.
It can be wine, yoga, hanky-panky, or cookies. Anything goes. If you get stuck, go back to your childhood and think about what you loved as a child.
Then, ask yourself these four questions.
- Would this item put me or someone else in harm’s way? If the answer is yes, it gets scratched off the list.
- Is this item in my resources? Do I have enough money, do I have enough time, do I have enough social resources to make this happen?
- Does this item have the potential to trigger me? Cross it off the list if it does.
- How healthy is it? Meaning, if I did this item every time I am stressed out would it be healthy? If not, cross it off.
What we left out are the items that are accessible and healthy for us to explore. Circle the items that really excite you and start taking action on those items and not whether or not they help you or not. If they don’t help, abandon them.
There may be items that help with different stress responses. For example, if you are more excited, reading a good story might be best, but if you are angry, a kickboxing class might be best.
Take the time to do this. Maybe start with ten items if you don’t have a lot of time. But if you do a hundred, then you are done, and you don’t have to do the exercise again.
We waste a lot of time when we are in a stressful state. If we do this exercise and find our creative stress reducer, we’ll actually have more time because we’ll be able to focus more. A lot of creative stress reducers only take ten minutes. And that is all it takes to get into the play or flow state and be able to focus again.
Learn more about Carlee and connect with her
To learn more about your host, Robyn Graham, click HERE.