Here’s something new I was fortunate to learn: Today, 3rd November, is Stress Awareness Day and we the burnout generation, must pay heed.
Growing up, dedicated days were so much fun and looking back on them almost feels like a highlight reel of bonding moments with loved ones. Things like Friendship’s Day and Chocolate Cake Day. Yes, that’s a real thing. It’s on 27th January if you’re interested – which I know you are. Bookmark it ASAP.
But this one, this sneaky 3rd November one, feels like it’s been especially created for our generation.
She said, in classic narcissistic millennial style.
While it’s not something new, National Stress Awareness Day is on the first Wednesday of every November. The 24 hours are dedicated to reinforcing the learning that you’re not doing yourself a favour by stressing about situations you can’t control.
In fact, according to science – and my mother – chronic stress leads to impaired physiological functions.
This day is not just to point fingers and tell you everything you’re doing wrong. It’s most definitely not to tell you to “calm down” when you’re not calm – when did that advice ever work, anyway? In fact it’s always done quite the opposite! It is to increase public awareness and help people recognize, manage and reduce stress in their personal and professional lives. In a time where we are literally living through a pandemic, this seems more relevant than ever.
Tools to deal with stress at home, at the workplace, and in just about every interaction is something that every human should be equipped with. At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that this is perhaps not something that can be implemented every single day.
After all, the self-care angle of stress and burnout management sometimes feels like a luxury. It’s tempting to reduce Stress Management to a single task – lighting a candle, taking a hot bath, going on holiday.
Let’s face it – not everyone has the time, the money and the freedom to do these things.
So being a proud member of The Burnout Generation, how do we do this?
Often and consistently.
Without going broke.
Without letting people down.
Without seeming selfish.
My approach so far – on a good day, at least – has been to just admit it.
“I’m really stressed; I think I’m burning out.”
Yes, that does make me seem not chill. And yes, on occasion, that does make me react to situations differently.
But just the admission of it has led to some really meaningful and eye-opening conversations. Learning that I’m not alone has helped me reset and recover from the feeling. I see my stressful moment through and then reset.
Stress -> Admit -> Experience -> Reset -> Restart
I’ve always loved the idea that it’s never too late to start something, and have come to realise that you don’t always need big life events to do so. You don’t need major aha!-moments to allow yourself to do that. It can happen many times in a single day. Self-care is not a one-stop destination. It’s not even a permanent state of being, even if every self-proclaimed wellness guru on Instagram says so. It ebbs and flows. It requires daily work, even if you don’t feel like it. But hopefully, that’s the answer to stress.
Or stress awareness, if nothing else.