The Watering Hole Blog

Have You Read “Burnout”?

Burnout book highest res

Get That Stress OUT – Why You Must Complete the Stress Cycle

“Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.”

― Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle”


I am smack in the middle of reading “Burnout; The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. It is excellent!

I first learned of the book from a family member who is working at an extremely demanding but highly rewarding job and raising a young family and caring for an elderly family member who was just diagnosed with cancer.

Before buying the book myself, I listened to the Brené Brown podcast interview with the authors. Wow! As Brené says, the book is a game-changer. I haven’t even finished reading it but am already experiencing a profound shift in how I handle stress.

I cannot believe how much better I feel by ridding my body of the stress response each and every day. Click To Tweet

The book explains what happens in our body when we experience stress and what we can do to complete the biological stress cycle.

Because if we don’t complete the cycle, the stress remains stuck in our body – and that’s where the danger of lies. Not just the danger of increasing our risk for burnout (the experience of being absolutely exhausted, completely overwhelmed, and seriously considering giving up on something that might be really important to us) but also for illness and disease.

Stress is a normal part of daily life. Avoiding stress is pretty much impossible for most of us.

In fact, we are wired to have a stressful response to a stressor. But there is a big difference between stressors – what causes us to be stressed (people, jobs, money issues, etc) – and the actual stress…our physiological response to that stress.

The purpose of the book is to explain why and HOW to rid of our body of stress. And get this, it is imperative that we rid of our body of the stress every single day! Who knew?

Here are seven ways to complete the stress response cycle:

#1. Physical activity. This is the single most efficient strategy.

#2. Deep slow breathing

#3. Positive social interaction

#4. Laughter

#5. Affection

#6. Crying

#7. Creative Expression

MA doing a fairly good job of releasing stress on a recent hike to Nile Creek 🙂

Introducing The Monitor…

In the chapter about managing stressors, the authors explain how to handle the “monitor” in our brain that regulates the emotion of frustration.

What is the “monitor”?

“Technically,” explain the authors, “it’s called the ‘discrepancy-reducing/increasing feedback loop’ and ‘criterion velocity,’ but people fall asleep immediately when we say that, so we just call it the Monitor. It is a brain mechanism that decides whether to keep trying…or to give up.”

“The Monitor,” the authors continue, “knows (1) what your goal is; (2) how much effort you’re investing in that goal; and (3) how much progress you’re making. It keeps a running tally of your effort-to-progress ratio, and it has a strong opinion about what that ratio should be.”

Hah! When I read this, I laughed out loud. My monitor – like many people’s, I suspect – keeps a very close tally on my effort-to-progress ratio and loves to remind me (frequently) about whether or not it thinks I am on track with meeting my goals in a timely manner. Being able to put a name to this annoying little voice in my head was a huge help in helping me manage it!

The Monitor is important to be aware of because if we listen to it without question, we may be placing more stressors on ourselves than we need to. The world is a stressful enough place without us biting off more than we can chew.

Image by Clkr-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay

I shall blog more when I finish reading the book. But in the meantime, if you are feeling stressed out and are interested in learning more about how to better handle both stressors AND the stress response, I highly recommend this book.

“Because you experience stress everyday, you have to build completing the cycle into every day. Make it a priority, like your life depends on it. Because it does.”

Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagosky, “Burnout”

Related Blogs by Maryanne

When the Body Says No – We Best Listen

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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