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Episode 21: Completing the Stress Cycle

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Description: This week, we will take a deep dive into Emily and Amelia Nagoski's book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, and how we can tackle this season of sacrifice by completing the stress cycle. Tune in for great strategies for living a life we don't need to run from!


1. Reward yourself today with deeper dive into Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle here!

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The Self-Care for Educators team cares about the content-accessibility for all educators. If you have trouble accessing the audio for the podcast, the transcription has been provided below.

Transcription: Hi, and welcome to episode 21 of Self-Care for Educators. I am your excited host, Tina Boogren, and this week we are going to explore the theme of completing the stress cycle. Oh, it's going to be juicy guys. Okay. So, let's jump right in.

Everything that I'm going to talk about this week comes from the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Oh boy, this is book juicy. I cannot recommend it enough. Of course, we will link to it in the show notes. Oh, it's so good you guys. It's so good. So, the whole thing is good but at the very, very least, I cannot recommend getting your hands on that very first few chapters. They are essential, and in fact that's what we're going to dig into here together.

So, I'm going to start with just giving us some foundational understanding of the difference between stressors and stress. So, here's what they say in the book. They say that stressors are what activates the stress response in your body. So, think of these ... these are things that you can see hear or smell or taste or imagine could do you harm. Stress on the other hand is the neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body when you encounter one of these things. What they tell us in the book is that ... We oftentimes get tripped up, because we think that just because we've dealt with the stressor, we've dealt with the stress. And, what they remind us is that is not the case. So, that notion that just because we dealt with the stressor, or so that's what ... That's that whatever we can see or hear or smell, taste or imagine can do us harm. Just because we've dealt with that does not mean that we've dealt with that neurological and physiological shift that happens in our body when we encounter one of those threats.

Oh man alive ... That just like stopped me in my tracks. So, the brilliant part is they don't leave it there. They actually tell us then what to do, and this is where this week's invitation comes in. So, they invite us to complete the stress cycle. I like this idea this year. You guys ... They remind us that we need to complete the stress cycle every single day, because quite honestly, we deal with stress and stressors every single day. So, how do we do it?

Okay. They give us seven things that we can try. I'm going to go over them very quickly, and I want you to just be listening for perhaps one or two that you might try playing with this week. So, here they are. Here's an overview.

Number one is my favorite. It is physical activity. They in fact say that physical activity is the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress cycle. Physical activity is what tells your brain you have successfully survived the threat and now your body is a safe place to live. They recommend between 20 and 60 minutes a day. So, I love, love again ... and the idea of using our Attitude Adjustment Walks to complete the cycle. At the end of the day, what a great way to close things out and make you know that really clear divide between work day and being done with work ... Number one: physical activity.

Number two: breathing. Deep, slow breathing. We've talked about this before. We recommend doing this at anytime that we need to during the day and also very, very specifically taking those deep breaths to complete the cycle at the end of the day. Do this in your car. Do this at a stoplight. Do this before you go into your home. So, number two: breathing.

Number three: positive social interaction. Yes, even in this time of physical distancing, we know how important it is to have those meaningful interactions. So, doing the Zoom happy hour, taking a socially distanced walk, reaching out, picking up the phone ... It is so important to have that sense of belonging.

Number four: laughter. We've talked about this. We've talked about all of these, which is what I love. So, it's like we get to just loop back to these and really, really, really focusing on the ones that are the most meaningful to us. So, as I said number four: laughter. Oh man, laughter feels so good, and what a great way to complete the cycle.

Number five: affection. So, affection can come from a number of different ways, so I I love the examples given here. So, one is the 6-second kiss with someone that you love, a partner right? He suggested you kiss your partner. So, John Gottman is the relationship researcher that they're quoting here, and he says everyday you should kiss your partner for six seconds. Love that. Another option, hug someone that you love and trust for 20 full seconds. Love that, as well. And, other things that you can do for affection ... even just petting a cat or a dog works, too, for affection, as well, which I absolutely love. We have very happy pets these days, right?

Okay, next one. Six. Number six is a big ol' cry. Oh man, they say in the book that anyone who says crying doesn't solve anything doesn't know the difference between dealing with the stress and dealing with the situation that causes stress. Oh, that feels so good. So, maybe you want to put a tear jerker movie on, or listen to that song that makes you cry. Read the ... read the book that brings the tears out, and just let yourself, and really, really delve into that feeling and emotion instead of fighting it. It's probably not something we want to do everyday, but know that there's nothing wrong with that. But, that is a really good way to complete the cycle.

And finally, the last one is another fantastic one. It's creative expression, making time for this. If we can get off of the social media and get some time back ... Take 30 minutes out of our day to do the creative thing that we love whether that is dancing or painting or writing in your journal or sculpting or flower arrangements or gardening or any ... anything that feels like a true creative expression to give yourself permission to do that. Oh, those are so good.

They are ... Let me repeat them again. So we've got physical activity, breathing, positive social interaction, laughter, affection, a big ol' cry, and creative expression. Now, they also go on to say that you'll know when you've completed the cycle. It's kind of like you just feel it in your body. You can just feel it let go. I know that feeling very, very clearly when I'm on a walk. Like, I'll start out pretty stressed, pretty thunderous in my steps, and I can just feel my body kind of release. And, that's what we're looking for here. You know, they remind us that, because we experience stress everyday we have to build completing the cycle into everyday. Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar. Act as though your life depends on it, because you know what? Our lives depend on it.

As always, a huge thank you to Brooke for making this happen. A shout out to Solution Tree and Marzano Resources for this amazing job I get to do. And, as always, a huge huge shout out to you, my bad-ass, Self-Care Squad. I can't wait to hear how you will complete the cycle this week, and how it feels to make this a priority.

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