Recognizing Stress Triggers: Alleviating Stress Before It Becomes BurnoutFeb 01, 2024
"Am I stressed or tired?"
This is a question I ask to myself every day. Juggling the roles of a mother, a woman physician, and an entrepreneur, my plate is full, and my array of daily tasks often seems overwhelming. As I navigate through the demands of parenting, the responsibilities of a being a doctor, and the challenges of entrepreneurship, I have learned I need to understand my stress level and assess it often – to avoid burnout.
In the whirlwind of daily life, it is easy to lose sight of our emotional barometer. The multitude of responsibilities and expectations can create a fog that obscures the subtle signals of stress. That is why taking a moment each day to check in with myself has become a crucial part of my routine. It is a simple act of self-awareness that lays the foundation for stress recognition and proactive management.
Being a mom is a full-time job in itself, with a constant stream of tasks ranging from sports runs to meal prep and everything in between. Add to that the intricate responsibilities of being a woman in the medical field – the relentless pace of patient care, the continuous pursuit of knowledge, and the emotional toll of dealing with the well-being of others. And then, as an entrepreneur, there's the dynamic landscape of managing a business, making decisions that impact not only myself but a team relying on my leadership.
As women, we are frequently the backbone of our families, the pillars of strength for our friends, and the driving force in our professional pursuits. It is so easy to lose sight of our well-being.
So today, let’s talk about how important it is to stop and ask yourself, several times a day: "How am I feeling?"
Self-awareness is a gift; it can be the beginning of a journey toward proactive stress management. Being self-aware allows you to shift from stress, ground yourself, and live with strength, resilience, and peace.
The Importance of Stress Awareness
Recognizing the importance of stress awareness is like giving yourself a powerful tool to navigate life's twists and turns. In our hectic lives, stress can sneak in and take a toll on our well-being without us even realizing it. By understanding the signs of stress, we are better equipped to identify the personal triggers that may be affecting us. This self-awareness acts as a shield, allowing us to proactively manage stress before it becomes too overwhelming.
For me, stress awareness is a journey of self-discovery, where I take the time to reflect on my limits and develop strategies that will work for me. It is about acknowledging that, like everyone else, I have my unique stressors, and finding ways to cope with them is essential for my overall well-being. By making stress awareness a consistent practice, I know that I am empowering myself to face life's challenges with greater insight, intention, and a sense of personal strength. It is a commitment to living a life that aligns with my values, where stress is not a roadblock but a steppingstone towards a healthier and more purposeful existence.
Most of the time, how we handle stress holds back the transformation we have been longing for. Which is why I am teaching my upcoming online class for women physicians: Brave Balance 2.0: A CME Master Class for Women Physician to Reclaim Work Life Control & Live a Life in Medicine on THEIR Terms. This is a revolutionary 12-week journey carefully crafted with an entirely fresh curriculum that goes beyond stress management; it is a profound shift in your relationship with stress, offering novel ways to thrive. If you are interested in it, we start in March! I would LOVE you to join me and let me walk alongside you to live with boundaries, learn how to say no, and improve your time management.
Sign up today where you will join a supportive community of like-minded women who understand the demands of the profession, offering a space to share experiences and insights. Enroll in Brave Balance 2.0: A CME Master Class for Women Physician to Reclaim Work Life Control & Live a Life in Medicine on THEIR Terms today and empower yourself to lead through obstacles while remaining passionately engaged in your career.
Identifying Personal Stress Triggers
Each person's stress triggers are like a unique fingerprint, shaped by our experiences, beliefs, and daily life. It means navigating our little ways to handle our stress similar to how we try to complete a complicated puzzle. For most of us women, our common denominator when it comes to stress often relates to challenges in relationships, financial pressures, health concerns, and even issues with time management. When we acknowledge where our stress comes from, we get a better picture of what areas in our lives need more attention and care.
Stress leaves us overwhelmed, drained, and exhausted, often lingering despite our best efforts. If this resonates with you, you are not alone. The relentless demands of life can take a toll, impacting our well-being and hindering personal growth. But what if there is a way to break free from this cycle?
Join me on January 30 for my FREE teaching series, "The Year of You." Together, we will delve into actionable strategies for you to thrive this 2024. (And if you cannot make the webinar, catch the replay! We can email it to you if you sign up.)
4 Strategies for Proactive Stress Management
Proactive stress management involves adopting strategies and practices to anticipate, identify, and address stress before it becomes overwhelming. It is a proactive approach that empowers us to navigate life's challenges with resilience and ease. Here are four strategies that I have found instrumental in taking charge of my stress and promoting overall well-being:
1. Early Intervention Through Mindfulness
The first step I like to do as one of my stress management techniques involves early intervention through mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness regularly, I am able to catch stress before it becomes unbearable and find a sense of calm and peace. Here are two ways how I do it:
Cultivating Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness is our helpful friend when it comes to understanding and dealing with stress. It involves staying fully present in the moment, allowing us to observe our thoughts and emotions without passing judgment. This way of paying attention helps create a mental space where we can catch stress triggers before they become a big problem.
Through mindfulness practices like meditation and deep breathing exercises, we engage in a purposeful journey of self-discovery. These practices not only make our minds feel calm but also help us notice the small signs of stress early on. By practicing mindfulness, we build a foundation for proactive stress management, empowering us to respond to stress triggers with clarity and resilience.
Regular Check-ins with Yourself
Checking in with ourselves regularly is all about having a little pause button to catch stress before it gets too much. Throughout the day, take a moment to ask yourself how you are feeling emotionally and physically.
Are you feeling happy, sad, or maybe a bit stressed?
Do you notice any tension or restlessness in your body?
These check-ins are a friendly reminder to pay attention to how we are doing. By making this a habit, we are taking charge of our well-being, making it easier to deal with stress before it escalates. These moments of self-reflection keep us grounded and help us handle the ups and downs of stress with more control and feel good about ourselves.
2. Develop Your Coping Mechanisms
Facing various challenges demands a flexible approach, and to handle stress well, it is good to have different ways to feel better. When stress starts to bother me, I make sure I have two reliable methods ready to help me feel okay:
Building a Support System
Developing coping mechanisms involves creating a toolkit to navigate through life's challenges, and one crucial tool is building a support system. Sharing the weight of stress with friends, family, or a support network is like distributing the load, making it easier to carry. Talking about how you feel not only makes you feel better but also helps you see things in different ways and try new ways to handle things.
Having supportive people around us like having a safety net; they can provide comfort during hard times and make us stronger to face tough situations. It is a reminder that we do not have to face difficult times alone – there are people who care and can give us some helpful advice and encouragement that we truly need.
Looking for a community where you can build connections with like-minded women and cultivate authentic relationships? Join us at The Table. We value the strength that arises from shared experiences and the encouragement that accompanies each of us on our unique journeys. Come, be a part of a community that celebrates the power of connection.
Engaging in Physical Activity
Another powerful coping mechanism is engaging in regular physical activity. Exercise has been proven to be a stress buster, and it works wonders for both the body and the mind. When we move our bodies, it releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. At the same time, physical activity helps lower cortisol, the stress hormone.
It does not have to be a strenuous workout; activities like a nature walk, a calming yoga session, or hitting the gym can be just a few on my list. Making physical activity a regular part of our routine is like giving ourselves a break from stress, helping us recharge and face challenges with a clearer and more positive mindset.
Need some fresh podcast recs for your commute? Tune into the latest episodes of my podcast, where I center discussions around stress – from effective ways to destress to strategies for overcoming it.
3. Adapt Stress Management Techniques
Adapting stress management techniques involves finding ways to handle stress that work for you. When I am stressed, these two ways never fail to amaze me:
Time Management and Prioritization
Feeling overwhelmed often happens when our schedules are too full. By breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable steps, setting realistic deadlines, and learning to say no when needed, we gain control over our time. Taking charge of our schedule helps us take control of our stress levels. It is like untangling a knot – when we manage our time well, we make stress more manageable.
If effective time management is something that stresses you out, Brave Balance 2.0: A CME Master Class for Women Physician to Reclaim Work Life Control & Live a Life in Medicine on THEIR Terms is here to help. This program ensures that you stay on top of your to-do list and make the most of your time. Say goodbye to overwhelm and hello to a more organized and efficient way of managing your time.
Another essential technique is setting boundaries. This is something I emphasize over and over again. This means deciding what is okay and what is not when it comes to work, personal commitments, and even the time we spend online. It is crucial for keeping a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Clearly defining limits on work hours, personal commitments, and digital interactions is like drawing a line in the sand, showing others and ourselves what we can handle. Respecting our boundaries is a way of saying, "I matter," and it helps prevent burnout, contributing to a more balanced and stress-resilient lifestyle.
Need some practical advice in setting firm boundaries for yourself? My book, Brave Boundaries is packed with strategies to help you establish and maintain healthy boundaries for your personal and professional life.
4. Cultivate Stress Awareness as a Lifestyle
Cultivating stress awareness as a lifestyle involves ingraining a continuous practice of recognizing and managing stress in daily routines. Here are 2 ways how you can do it:
Embracing a Growth Mindset
Stress awareness is not a one-time exercise but a continuous journey of self-discovery. It must be an ingrained part of our everyday lives which means recognizing it as a normal part of growing as a person. Instead of only thinking about stress sometimes, it becomes something we regularly pay attention to, like a journey where we learn about ourselves.
Embracing a growth mindset in this way is about not seeing stress as something too hard to overcome but as a chance to get better. It is deciding to learn from tough times, adjust to challenges, and come out stronger. When we practice being aware of stress every day, we build the ability to handle difficult things and see them as chances to become a better version of ourselves.
Do you want to know how a growth mindset works? This is one of the incredible things you will learn at the BE 2024 Women’s CME Conference. Through various workshops and keynote speeches, attendees will gain valuable insights and strategies on how to cultivate a growth mindset, unlock their full potential, and achieve their goals with confidence and resilience.
Also, this year we will launch the BE24 Referral Program. When you refer a new attendee to BE24, both you and your referral will receive an exclusive invitation to a private event hosted by me. As an added bonus, the referral program gives you the chance to win a luxurious spa day at BE24. Let's make BE24 one for the books!
Seeking Professional Support
When stress feels like too much or stays around for a long time, let professionals help you. That way, you can understand your feelings and thoughts better and find ways that work just for you. Remember, it is okay to ask for help, especially when it comes to keeping our minds and emotions in a good place.
Make 2024 a Stress-Free Era for YOU
Stress is an inevitable part of life. However, how we manage and cope with stress is something we have control over. We have the ability to develop healthy coping mechanisms and implement stress-management techniques that uniquely work for us.
This year, let's make a conscious decision to redefine our relationship with stress, turning it from a hindrance into a catalyst for growth. Let them be opportunities for self-discovery and empowerment.
Do not let stress consume you. Stress is our daily reminder for us to prioritize self-care, embrace a growth mindset, and nurture a resilient spirit.
Let this be the year where we claim a stress-free era, not by avoiding stress but by mastering it – transforming it into a force that propels us toward a life filled with purpose, joy, and unwavering serenity.
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