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Reflections from our Bookshelf: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
By: Emily & Amelia Nagoski
Reflection by: Shannon Dermody


Why I read it?

This book has excellent reviews and the title interested me. I enjoy my work and I’m happy, but I know that I’m prone to internalizing stress and worrying about things that aren’t necessarily in my control.

What is it all about?

The authors define underlying causes of stress and give several specific, attainable ways to manage and address stress in day to day life. They explain that stressors can be independent of the stress you feel. The “stress cycle” is the complete timeline of experiencing an initial stressor, the “fight or flight” reaction, and finally feeling the relief of resolution that comes with the true conclusion of the stress cycle for that event.

The key ideas that stood out most to me were:

  • Completing a task that’s causing you stress doesn’t always address the underlying stress itself – that may take an additional step.
  • Emotional exhaustion, when you’ve been “on” for too long, leads to detachment.
  • The quality of your relationships correlates to your physical and mental health.

With each key idea the authors present, they explain how to effectively implement positive changes. Exercise is of course one of the most efficient ways to address stress itself and complete the stress cycle, but they note that even if exercise isn’t an option, systematically clenching and then relaxing each of your muscles, starting at your head and working to your toes, can have a similar effect. They also reference studies showing that a daily extended hug with your partner (at least 20 seconds) can help you reset, reminding your body that you are cared for and safe. You can help manage stressors before they escalate with “planful problem solving,” which is thinking through the reasons for the stress and ways you can get ahead of it or minimize its impact on you.

What caused me to pause?

This book prompts the reader to reflect on their life and ways that each topic might apply to them. I am blessed to have strong relationships at home and at work, but I still take on stress and don’t always deal with it effectively. This book was a good reminder of the impact stress can have on quality of life.

How will this book change my habits or influence me?

Reading this book has prompted me to implement the techniques I summarized – there are more listed in the book, but they were less tangible and more conceptual.

Add this to your reading list if …

This book is written very specifically to appeal to women with a chip on their shoulder who work outside the home and are expected to “do it all.” I found value in many of the concepts discussed, but the authors do spend quite a bit of time pandering to this type of audience.

Pickle Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Shannon Dermody

Shannon DermodyTEST

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