Made for Change with Dr. Janny Chang

Ep. 9: Stress and burnout

July 03, 2022 Dr. Janny Chang Season 1 Episode 9
Made for Change with Dr. Janny Chang
Ep. 9: Stress and burnout
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, you will learn all about the difference between dealing with the stress versus stressor at work. You'll learn about the different ways to complete the stress cycle, so that it doesn't turn into chronic stress. 

Hello, hello, I'm live about 30 minutes late for my expected time. But I was trying to figure out how to do multiple flat platforms. Okay, now it's telling me that I am meeting to close some of my other software. So I'm actually on Zoom. And I am on Instagram Live. And I am also on Facebook wide, I'm going to go ahead and close down one of these projects so that I have some memory. So here's the thing about this learning curve, let's see. It is that I am committed to having a growth mindset. So I'm learning all these new things about using multiple platforms at the same time. And so part of that is making sure that I'm able to navigate all these platforms. And also having tests tested it out, and also give you the information I want to get. So alright, this is my three part workshop series on burnout, and stress and designing the life you want. So I'm doing three days devoting three days to this workshop workshop. One is today, it's just going to be about stress, and dealing with stressors and burnout. And then tomorrow we're going to talk about red flags at work. How do you know when it's time to make a change, you know, whether it's to leave your job, find a new job, or change your career, right, make a career switch. And then day three is going to be all about creating the life you want. from a design perspective. And I'm going to use some books I've been reading about using design lead design methods, and also just social science methods I'm gonna have to call just by training. And a lot of the methods that's used there is what we were. We've taught that I've taught in anthropology that I've learned in anthropology. So three day series, I'm super excited. Using multiple platforms, I am learning how to do all of this. Whoo. All right, so super exciting. Okay, so let me just begin by talking about stress and stressors. Stress and stressors are different. Okay? And just because you dealt with one doesn't mean you've dealt with the other it's important to deal with the actual stress itself. Alright, so stressors are what activate the stress response in your body, right? work, money, kids cultural norms, we face discrimination, racism, all of these can be interpreted by your body as threats. Stress is a neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body. When you face one of those threats, right. It's literally it's your evolutionarily designed to respond in this way to help you survive should you be faced with a predator. When you see a predator, right, this activates a stress response. And all these things take place in your body epinephrine pushes blood into your muscles. There are certain hormones that keep you going endorphins help you ignore how uncomfortable all What is your heart rate gets faster, your hands get clammy, your blood pumps, you breathe faster, your digestion slows down all of this is your body getting slotted?

You know, with stress response so that you're going to be pushed to run and escape. Right? Going also way that people. Hello, nice to see you all, okay? Okay, so the goal is, you know, the stress response is to move oxygen and fuel into your muscles, so that you can escape. Now, when the stress experience happens, right, there's two outcomes. Like for example, if you're faced by a lion, a predator, you either get eaten, or you escape, you survive. You go back to the survive, you go home, you see a family, friends who celebrate, who share feast with people you love. You give gratitude for being alive. And all of that feeds into completing the stress cycle response. Okay. But just because you've dealt with the stressor, that means like the lion or the predator is not fair doesn't mean he's dealt with the stress itself. Right? Here's the example. You might run away from the lion. And it's somehow maybe dies, right? Sudden, are you suddenly peaceful and relaxed? No, you're still in stress mode, heart pumping, another threat comes right. Your hands are still claiming you're still in that tense mode ready to escape. Right. Now, if the lion charges at you, your adrenaline's pumping your cortisol, your glycogen all in full force, the you may grab a spear and kill the lion, the lion dies, so the threat is gone. But your body is still full action mode, right? It's ready to pounce, it's ready to run, it does not feel safe. So you have to signal to your body that it's safe, or else you will stay in the state with the neuro chemicals and hormones, they're winding down, but they never really go into a state of relaxation. And that affects all your organs and your systems, your bodily systems, your digestive system, your immune system, cardiovascular, all of them need to get the signal that they are safe. I'm good. Thank you, m 1128969.

Now, let's suppose that the stressor is your work, right? Because I am a career and burnout coach. And I'm here to talk about that. What if the stressor is worse, maybe there's someone at work, you know, that is a stressor for you. Maybe it's your boss, a colleague, someone that your body is seen as a threat to your life. You know, maybe you're constantly paraded at work told you're not good enough. You no expectations aren't clear. Maybe your boss is a micromanager. Right, you're going to get the same feelings of adrenaline and cortisol, and glycogen when you're triggered by you know, remarks or actions that take place, right. But instead of completing the stress cycle, you have to sit there and you have to act appropriately. To hold it all in, you have to be nice to be the good girl. And what that does, is it just causes stress to stay in your body, right? Also not feeling your feelings also caused stress in your body. Obviously, acting on that response, let's say you want to yell at someone or act out that can also cause stress, it's not really the solution either, right? You may not feel safe doing that. You may not feel safe, acting on it and then receiving a response that is undesirable. Right? So these are all the survival strategies that you have used to stay quiet, to be calm, to be the good girl to be appropriate. Your survival strategies, right? When it comes down to it. We're evolutionally designed to respond in these ways it's fight or flight, which you've heard. Threes is when you're mobilized, right? That can be like burnout when you just shut down or appease or fight fires trying to fit in trying to appease people, you know, what they all these responses are full responses. What they do is they just suppress your stress response. Okay, they don't actually help you, you know, start getting rid of it, you know, they just suppress it. And so day after day, what does this do to your system? All the organs in your system activated. This can turn just chronic stress in the long run. Right? And this is the thing, the stress, over time will kill you faster than the stressor will I write and I take a lot of this information from the burnout book by Emily Inagaki. So please check that out. And so here's the thing, if you don't deal with the stress, even if you get rid of the stressor, like you change jobs, you quit even. And you don't deal with the stress that's in your body, that can be very damaging to you in the long run. Okay, and so how do you know when it's time to deal with the stress?

Okay, and this is kind of where we start kind of talking about kind of burnout symptoms, right? You might notice yourself doing the same things over and over again, and engage in a self destructive behavior. Maybe you're doing scrolling on your phone constantly. Maybe you're thinking obsessive thoughts. Maybe you're just feeling stuck, right? It's a sign that the stress has overwhelmed your brain to be able to deal with process with what's happening around you. Right. Another indication that maybe it's time to deal with the stress is it's called shambling and as Brene Browns term, and it's really just, it means sudden outburst, right, maybe something minor happens. And then you just have a huge outburst. It's because you've been suppressing things for so long, and that you erupt, you know, so very explosive, you've just gone your way past your threshold. And you need to deal with the stress before you can deal with a stressor, right? That's what, that's what the shows, another indication is we go into hiding mode, even just buffer all the time you go home, you binge on Netflix, constantly, there's nothing wrong with buffering. It's just like, if you consistently do it, to avoid things in your life, or to avoid feeling bad, consistently, right? And so that could be like, go home, you ice cream binge on Netflix, constantly, and you just avoid your life, you just try to hide, you try to hide yourself, right? A final indication, and this is not an exhaustive a comprehensive list was just some starting points to think about, you know, to give clues to you, when you might want to start dealing with the stress, before it turns into burnout, when you just shut down, right? A final indication is required, it just feels out of whack. And you can, you know, you can feel like maybe your digestion is just off base, you have constant chronic pain that's out of the ordinary, you have injuries that won't heal, maybe you're sick a lot, you know, I had this experience in graduate school, know, when I was getting my PhD, where I just like, had a very stressful time, a good six months. And I think for three months of that I was so sick, I had like some flu, but it was something just even more than that, you know, I could just tell, I could tell it was from the stress. And I hadn't been dealing with the stress, but I could feel it in my bodily symptoms, you know, and also the sickness just prolonged because of that. Your mind and body very connected, right? And and your body goes out of whack. It's an indication that it's time to deal with the stress. Okay? All right. So here's the thing, there are ways to complete the stress cycle. And so you want to complete the stress cycle before becomes chronic stress. And before you burn out, right? Short term stress is actually good for your body, like it activates the immune system response. It's long term stress that can be very detrimental. Right? In our modern lives. The goal is not to eradicate stress, that's probably impossible. But it's to be able to move fluidly between these different states, you know, from stress, to calm to risk and adventure to calm, right, wellness happens when your body feels safe for you. It feels like home, you know, even when there's a storm outside of you. And there's chaos, right? I mean, right now reading the news on Ukrainian all these things that are happening. Right? How do you come back and feel safe in your body? No. And you can be well, wellness, you can be well in your body even when it doesn't necessarily feel good. Okay. So what are some ways to complete the stress cycle? This is the hardest part, okay, because it's going to require that you turn the focus away from the stressor and you turn inward to your own emotions and body. And that can feel scary. It can feel scary. Now, if you've been through trauma, know make sure that you work with a therapist, you're professional before you take the steps, you know, for everyone else, so recognize that it's not going to be comfortable to turn inward if you're so used to discount acting from your body and how you're feeling, especially when you have had a lot of accumulated stress over the years, it's going to be all feel uncomfortable at first to turn inward and take some time. Okay, but these are some easy, easy things that you can do to help complete the stress cycle. So one of the things is, so you do something like this for 20 to 60 minutes a day. And you can do multiple of these tasks, okay? And you want to speak the language of your body, remember, it doesn't know what it means your body is not really aware that you have to file your taxes, right, or you have some conflict at work, your body just knows what it feels, it just feels that accumulated stress. And so you can try to connect with your body. And think about ways to make it feel safe with them. Right. So

one of the first things you can do so one of the things that you can do, okay, is physical activity is, and I think this is just commonly known, it's not really exercise, because I want to shy away from that in terms of like, you know, just working out, right, because we have people with all different kinds of activity levels, and I want to make sure we accommodate that, right, because it could be anything, go for a walk, you can dance, any movement helps complete the stress cycle 20 to 60 minutes a day. If you have chronic pain, take it slow, you don't even have to do exercise as we know it. In fact, there's also a way to achieve the same thing where you lie down. And it's what it's a yogi drugged you like you can also use a YouTube, you know, search it look up yoga nidra. And it can kind of help you release tension in your body by going doing a scan from head to toe. But this is basically what it is you lie down, you do a body scan from head to toe, you tense up each part of your body, starting with your head, your neck, all the way downward. And, you know, you tense up really hard for count of 10 and then you start to release for slow count of 10. Okay, and you know, what matters is that you just notice your heart beating faster, faster, faster, fist clenching, and then you release. And you'll feel more relaxed. And you'll feel Also you'll notice some tensions you didn't know were there before because you're actually leaning into those tensions and then intentionally letting it go. And you may also feel a wave of strong emotion. Right. And that helps to to release that stress is to cry or feel a wave of strong emotion. Okay, a second thing that you can do is affection. Now, John Gottman, who's a relationship researcher suggests on every day, kissing your partner for six, four seconds, that's, that's one six second kiss. It's long enough that it requires notice your partner, you build trust with that person that tells your body that you're safe, right, you can also prove that affection it can also be hugging someone that you trust for full 20 seconds. So it's not just with a stranger and acquaintance right now there's like quick hugs that you give to someone you just met. Literally, it's a solid hug for 20 seconds. And you lean into that hug until you feel your body relaxed, it can actually lower your blood pressure and heart rate and it can improve your mood. And it doesn't really matter what kind of infection it is in terms of a kiss or a hug. It could even be with your pets, or maybe you're used to stroking your pet. Do that for 2030 seconds. What matters is that you lean into it. And you do it consistently for a period of time. Until you start to feel your body. Relax. Okay, third thing is laughter. Laughter laughing together. When you laugh your movie, or with people. That's the best right? It helps forge bonds regulate helps regulate our emotions. Laughter is is also another way to help complete the stress cycle. And the fourth way is creative expression. engaging in something creative. That's arts, painting, singing, writing music, you know, even sports, right? Something that helps you unleash your creativity where you get to build and create something from a vision that you have, and you get to enjoy doing it. So again, 20 to 60 minutes each day that can help you complete your stress cycle. And finally, breathwork you know, long inhales through your nose, exhale through your mouth. And I don't want to say yoga necessarily, but sitting there deliberately and doing these deep breaths, and just focusing on the breath. So even if you start to have thoughts about work and start to ruminate, come back to the breath. And just be still with your breath. And try that for about 20 minutes each day.

All right, so how do you know when you've completed the cycle, it's an inner intuitive shift, sometimes you will cry, right? Like I told you, sometimes, it's a gradual process. Sometimes it's instant release, you listen to your body, it will tell you when this happens. Now, if you're not sure about your body, you're not really in tune with it as so many of us are not in tune with it right? And you feel disconnected from it, your body and your emotions just overall, right? That's okay. That's okay. You know, you might have spent years holding in your worry and anger. And that's a lot of accumulated stress response cycles, that's in backlog. All you need to recognize is that you feel incrementally better, day by day, bit by bit, you will notice the direction of body is going in, even if you're not quite sure if you've been completing stress cycle on a regular basis. So maybe when you started, like, you know, take a sort of an assessment of yourself on a scale of one to 10 how stressed Are you feeling? Right? And if it's an eight, you start with an eight, then maybe over two weeks time, we find that you actually like it a seven or six, then you know you're headed in the right direction, right? The goal is not to just complete it as an outcome. It's really the journey, right? It's that movement towards incrementally feeling a little better, bit by bit, day by day. Alright, that's it for today. Tomorrow, I'm going to talk more about stress. But I'm also going to talk about red flags. And when you know, when you know, it is time to make a change, to leave a situation to make a career change when it's time to leave your job, you know, or what to do when there's an anticipated change. All right, and then day three, we're going to cover all about creating the life you want on your own terms, shattering the rules, making sure your work fits into your life and not the other way around. But using design design and anthropological methods that are so powerful, and they're so useful. All right, my friends. I will see you tomorrow.