Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by twin sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, is about burnout in women. It “explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life,” according to the publisher.
“This is a book,” say the authors, “is for any woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she had to do, and yet still worried she was not doing ‘enough’.”
Preceding this 2019 book was an article, “The Answer Is Not Self-Care,” in which the authors say their research indicated that one particular thing is the key to unlocking the stress cycle: gratitude.
However, they beg to differ. Not that gratitude isn’t good. And such things as writing a gratitude letter can be quite helpful. But keeping ongoing lists…not so much, in their estimation.
Their new book offers “at least a dozen” other ways to deal with the stress cycle: “Some of the answers are simple (if not always easy): move your body, sleep, connect. Some are not simple: smash the patriarchy a little each day, protect yourself from the Bikini Industrial Complex, and consider something we call ‘Human Giver Syndrome.’ All of our answers are as deeply rooted in scientific evidence as they are in the pragmatics of 21st-century life.”
From the authors’ interview with Aarti Shahani, NPR, more info regarding ways to address burnout in women: “Physical activity is the most efficient. Affection is really powerful. One of our favorite recommendations is the 20 second hug. If you hold someone that long, it communicates to your body that you have a person in your life whom you love and trust enough and who loves and trusts you enough to stand this close together. And your chemistry shifts into a state of I have come home, which is the end of the stress response cycle.”
According to the Nagoskis, the main burnout fix, actually, is “all of us caring for each other,” otherwise known as love.
Selected Book Quotes
Most of us have spent our whole lives being taught to believe everyone else’s opinions about our bodies, rather than to believe what our own bodies are trying to tell us. For some of us, it’s been so long since we listened to our bodies, we hardly know how to start understanding what they’re trying to tell us, much less how to trust and believe what they’re saying. To make matters worse, the more exhausted we are, the noisier the signal is, and the harder it is to hear the message.
The good news is that stress is not the problem. The problem is that the strategies that deal with stressors have almost no relationship to the strategies that deal with the physiological reactions our bodies have to those stressors. To be “well” is not to live in a state of perpetual safety and calm, but to move fluidly from a state of adversity, risk, adventure, or excitement, back to safety and calm, and out again. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.
…We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.
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