Stressors and burnout: Group session

Adaptation: the key to survival

A steady job, stable income, sound relationships, everlasting friendships, reliable political system, steadfastness in faith, good weather, freedom from threat, safety, security; all are what one needs to ‘not stress’ and be calm. But constancy is a dream. Things change, people change and viewpoints change. Marriages break, recession strikes and economies fall. Change is inevitable. Positive change brings joy while the negative one acts as a stressor. If one doesn’t adapt, one cannot cope. Trouble will persists till the stressor is removed or adaptation to the change takes place.

Similar yet not the same

Identical situations can arouse the most distinctive of reactions in different human beings; even if of a similar background, age, ethnicity, cultural, social, familial or work profile. While external conditions and situations always seem similar, the inner coping abilities of all individuals differ. Each one’s resources, their adaptability to change and self-efficacy measures determine their perception of life events as stressful or normative.

Cognitive appraisal

Some individuals see a specific situation as a threat, whereas other individuals perceive the same as a challenge or opportunity. The appraisal is dependent upon the perception of physical demands, task demands, role demands and interpersonal demands that the situation infringes on that person. We aim to help people ask themselves: ‘Am I capable of handling this?’ An honest answer determines their reaction. The target is to view change positively, face the situation with optimism and see it as an opportunity. When viewed as a threat, danger or blow to self-esteem, anyone will perceive stress.

Stress and status quo

Stress is a normative reaction to change. Change tends to disrupt the status quo. Internal as well as external factors contribute to an individual’s experience of stress. It may be an illness in the family, a pending divorce, housing conditions, the general economy; your children’s schooling, terror attacks in the world, natural calamities and many more. Today stress is one of the leading causes of physical illness, most of all hypertension and heart attacks. Stressful perceptions of life events precipitate psychological disorders like adjustment problems, anxiety, dysthymia, major depression and in severe cases; psychosis too. Thus stress is a matter of escalating concern.

Eustress to distress to burnout

We believe that a certain amount of stress is crucial for optimizing performance. To assure good mental and physical health; it is important to occasionally push capacities: exercise some more, do yoga and attain greater flexibility or be concerned about an upcoming interview and repeatedly practice for it. This can be viewed as constructive stress, which compels one to act with prime performance, thus assuring that goals are achieved. However the opposite of this is distress which refers to the unhealthy, negative, destructive outcomes of stressful events that impact humans negatively. Excessive stress can result in a complete disruption of the psyche leading to burnout: a point where it seems one cannot rise back to optimism and normalcy ever again.

MINDFRAMES: Reframing stress

Stress is unavoidable, but the degree of stress endured can be modified by changing the environment or by altering the individual’s coping mechanisms. We target stress management at the narrow set of individual-level interventions (e.g., education, relaxation training, biofeedback, meditation) and broader coverage in groups to enhance the empathic experience. Some of these are large group programs for organizations as well as some small group training for clubs, home associations and small groups of individuals with similar backgrounds; each trying to cope with their own gamut of stressful life experiences.

Signs of Stress

Stress is more common than we realize. It is good to keep a watch for these common symptoms:

  • Immediate memory lapses
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inadequate poor judgment
  • Exaggeration of the negative
  • Anxious and racing thoughts
  • Incorrigible worrying
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling very overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness
  • General dissatisfaction

Stress education

The guidance module for stress control individually as well as in groups includes explanation of factors as below

  • Knowing the biology of stress
  • Understanding stress response
  • The destructive impact of stress
  • Stress busters and protectants
  • Sensory modalities/submodalities
  • Relaxation techniques and yoga
  • Alternate healing methodologies

Frequently Asked Questions

Does all change generate stress?
The only inevitable constant is change and it always generates resistance. If people have the will and efficiency to make use of reserves and defenses to cope with the demands of the situation, they emerge stronger. If they cannot cope, they endure stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is all stress bad for humans?
It is very important to understand eustress and distress as constructs that enhance or decline an individual’s functioning. When stress motivates people to face challenges and take the opportunity to grow, it is eustress, which is not bad at all.