# Burnout by Emily Nagoski >[!Abstract] Description > "This groundbreaking book 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. The gap between what it's really like to be a woman and what people expect women to be is a primary cause of burnout, because we exhaust ourselves trying to close the space between the two. How can you "love your body" when everything around you tells you you're inadequate? How do you "lean in" at work when you're already giving 110% and aren't recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a world that is constantly telling you you're too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish? Sisters Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., the bestselling author of Come as You Are, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of overwhelm and exhaustion, and confront the obstacles that stand between women and well-being. With insights from the latest science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, Burnout reveals: - what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle--and return your body to a state of relaxation. - how to manage the "monitor" in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration. - how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies--and how to fight back. - why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are key to recovering from and preventing burnout"-- %% - How the book is organised - A caveat or 2 about science - The owl and the cheese - Part 1: what you take with you # Persist - Allow us to introduce...the Monitor - Dealing with stressors you can control: playful problem-solving - Dealing with the stressors you can't control: positive reappraisal - Change the expectancy: redefine winning - Change the expectancy: redefine failing - How not to manage your monitor - When to give up - Decision grid - shePersisted - Tl;dr: - Redefine winning - Meaning - What is it, exactly? - You make it - What's something larger? - Human giver syndrome - Make meaning, heal human giver syndrome - Make meaning when terrible things happen - Origin story - Your something larger is within you - Tl;dr: - Part 2: The real enemy - The game is rigged - The patriarchy (Ugh.) - Gaslighting - Patriarchy blindness - #1: Human giver syndrome - #2: Headwinds/ tailwinds asymmetry - The "tall tree" fairness test - Compassion fatigue - Complete the cycle: Feels about the patriarchy - Unlearning helplessness: do a thing - Smashin'-some-patriarchy worksheet - Tl;dr: - The bikini industrial complex - intro - The bikini industrial comlpex - Stigma is the health hazard - It would be nice to be thin - Why thinness? - Your new "weight loss goal " - Strategy 1: Mess acceptance - Strategy 2: you are the new hotness - Strategy 3: everybody is the new hotness - Strategy 4: "Hi body, what do you need?" - Tl;dr: - Part 3: Wax on wax off - Connect - Connection is literal - Good Connection is good for you - The bubble of love - Bubble ingredients - #1: trust - #2: connected knowing - Signs you need to recharge in the bubble of love - Uber bubble - Tl;dr: - What makes you stronger - Default mode: aka daydreaming - Active rest - Why sleep - Can you get too much sleep? - An "invisible workplace" - 42% - Where can you find the time? - 24/7 worksheet - The slow leak - You can spell "resist" without "rest" - Tl;dr: - Grow mighty - The madwoman in the attic - Get to know your "madwoman" - Harsh self-criticism - Toxic perfectionism - Self-compassion - Self compassion is hard - Part 1: we need our whips...don't we? - Part 2: Healing hurts - Part 3: strength is scary - How to grow mighty - Part 1: Befriend your madwoman - Part 2: "turn and face the strange" - Face the strange, change the worls - Part 3: Gratitude (*sigh*) - Tl;dr: - Conclusion: Joyfully ever after - Info - Tl;dr: # Introduction ### [[emotional exhaustion is strongly linked to negative impacts on our health, relationships, and work]] > “In the forty years since the original formulation, research has found it’s the first element in burnout, emotional exhaustion, that’s most strongly linked to negative impacts on our health, relationships, and work—especially for women. ” ^jcjp0 ### [[emotions involve the release of neurochemicals in the brain in response to a stimulus]] > Emotions, at their most basic level, involve the release of neurochemicals in the brain, in response to some stimulus. ” ^a2h2e ### [[emotions are automatic and instantaneous]] > Page 7, 1.6%, Yellow: “That’s emotion. It’s automatic and instantaneous. It happens everywhere, and it affects everything. And it’s happening all the time—we feel many different emotions simultaneously, even in response to one stimulus” ^uipny ### [[emotions will end on their own]] > Page 7, 1.7%, Yellow: “Left to their own devices, emotions—these instantaneous, whole-body reactions to some stimulus—will end on their own.” ^3xth8 ### [[emotions are tunnels]] > Page 8, 1.8%, Yellow: “In short, emotions are tunnels. If you go all the way through them, you get to the light at the end. ^ayec1 ### [[exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion]] > Exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion. We may get stuck simply because we’re constantly being exposed to situations that activate emotion—our crush is there, all day, every day, even if only in our thoughts, and so we’re trapped in our own longing. Or we return to our stressful job every single day. No wonder “helping professions” are so exhausting—you’re confronted with people in need, all day, day after day. No wonder parenting is so exhausting—once you’re a parent, you’re never not a parent. You’re always going through the tunnel. ^pxo0f ### [[sometimes we get stuck in an emotion because we can’t find our way through]] > Sometimes we get stuck because we can’t find our way through. The most difficult feelings—rage, grief, despair, helplessness—may be too treacherous to move through alone. We get lost and need someone else, a loving presence, to help us find our way. And sometimes we get stuck because we’re trapped in a place where we are not free to move through the tunnel. ” ^bf941 --- ## [[Human giver syndrome]] Page 8, 2%, Yellow: “In Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, philosopher Kate Manne describes a system in which one class of people, 7 the “human givers,” are expected to offer their time, attention, affection, and bodies willingly, placidly, to the other class of people, the “human beings.” 8 The implication in these terms is that human beings have a moral obligation to be or express their humanity, while human givers have a moral obligation to give their humanity to the human beings. Guess which one women are. ” Page 9, 2.2%, Yellow: “Human givers must, at all times, be pretty, happy, calm, generous, and attentive to the needs of others, which means they must never be ugly, angry, upset, ambitious, or attentive to their own needs. Givers are not supposed to need anything. If they dare to ask for or, God forbid, demand anything, that’s a violation of their role as a giver and they may be punished. And if a giver doesn’t obediently and sweetly hand over whatever a being wants, for that, too, the giver may be punished, shamed, or even destroyed. If we had set out to design a system to induce burnout in half the population, we could not have constructed anything more efficient. ” Page 9, 2.2%, Yellow: “Human givers must, at all times, be pretty, happy, calm, generous, and attentive to the needs of others, which means they must never be ugly, angry, upset, ambitious, or attentive to their own needs. Givers are not supposed to need anything. If they dare to ask for or, God forbid, demand anything, that’s a violation of their role as a giver and they may be punished. And if a giver doesn’t obediently and sweetly hand over whatever a being wants, for that, too, the giver may be punished, shamed, or even destroyed. If we had set out to design a system to induce burnout in half the population, we could not have constructed anything more efficient. Emotional exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion and can’t move through the tunnel. In Human Giver Syndrome, the giver isn’t allowed to inconvenience anyone with anything so messy as emotions, so givers are trapped in a situation where they are not free to move through the tunnel. They might even be punished for it. Your body, with its instinct for self-preservation, knows, on some level, that Human Giver Syndrome is slowly killing you. That’s why you keep trying mindfulness and green smoothies and self-care trend after self-care trend. But that instinct for self-preservation is battling a syndrome that insists that self­preservation is selfish, so your efforts to care for yourself might actually make things worse, activating even more punishment from the world or from yourself, because how dare you? Human Giver Syndrome is our disease. The book you’re reading is our prescription.” Page 10, 2.6%, Yellow: “How the Book Is Organized We’ve divided Burnout into three parts. Part I is “What You Take with You.” In the Star Wars movie Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker sees an evil cave. Looking toward the entrance in dread, he asks his teacher Yoda, “What’s in there?” Yoda answers, “Only what you take with you.” This beginning section of the book explains three internal resources that we carry with us as we take our heroine’s journey: the stress response cycle, “the Monitor” (the brain mechanism that controls the emotion of frustration), and meaning in life. Meaning is often misunderstood as “the thing we’ll find at the end of the tunnel,” but it’s not. It’s why we go through the tunnel, regardless of what we find on the other end. (Spoiler alert: meaning is good for us.) Which brings us to Part II. We call it “The Real Enemy.” That’s a reference to The Hunger Games, in which young Katniss Everdeen is forced into a “game” organized by the dystopian sci-fi government, in which she has to kill other children. Her mentor says to her, “Remember who the real enemy is.” It’s not the people the government wants her to kill, and who are trying to kill her. The real enemy is the government that set this whole system up in the first place. Can you guess what the enemy is in this book? [Cue ominous music] The Patriarchy. Ugh. Most self-help books for women leave this chapter out and instead discuss only the things readers can control, but that’s like teaching someone the best winning strategy of a game without mentioning that the game is rigged. Fortunately, when we understand how the game is rigged, we can start playing by our own rules. And then Part III—the thrilling conclusion—is the science of winning the war against these “real enemies.” It turns out there are concrete, specific things we can do each and every day, to grow mighty and conquer the enemy. We call this part “Wax On, Wax Off.” In the original Karate Kid movie, Mr. Miyagi teaches Danny LaRusso karate” Page 11, 3%, Yellow: “by having the kid wax his car. “Wax on,” says Mr. Miyagi, rotating his palm clockwise. “Wax off,” he says, rotating his other palm counterclockwise, and he adds, “Don’t forget to breathe.” He also has Danny sand the deck, stain the fence, and paint the house. Why the repetitive, mundane tasks? Because in the mundane tasks live the protective gestures that help us grow strong enough to defend ourselves and the people we love, and to make peace with our enemies. “Wax on, wax off” is what makes you stronger: connection, rest, and self­compassion. Throughout the book, you’ll follow the stories of two women: Julie, an overwhelmed public school teacher whose body will revolt against her, forcing her to pay attention to it; and Sophie, an engineer who will decide she is not here for the patriarchy.These women are composites: In the same way a movie is made of thousands of still images, edited together to tell a story, they are composed of fragments of dozens of real-life women. We’re using this technique partly to protect the identities of the real women and partly because this larger narrative arc more effectively explains the science than stand-alone vignettes can. The research doesn’t come close to addressing every woman’s experience, but we hope that these stories will give you that sense of how each individual’s experience is unique and yet, at the same time, universal. And each chapter ends with a “tl;dr” list. Tl;dr is the Internet abbreviation for “too long; didn’t read.” If you write a five-hundred-word post on Facebook or a multiparagraph comment on Instagram, someone may well reply, “tl;dr.” Our tl;dr lists contain the ideas you can share with your best friend when she calls you in tears, the facts you can use to disprove myths when they come up in conversation, and the thoughts we hope come to you when your racing mind keeps you awake at night. A CAVEAT OR TWO ABOUT SCIENCE In this book, we use science as a tool to help women live better lives. We’ve turned to diverse domains of science, including affective neuroscience, psychophysiology, positive psychology, ethology, game theory, computational biology, and many others. So a few words of caution about science. Science is the best idea humanity has ever had. It’s a systematic way of” Page 12, 3.5%, Yellow: “exploring the nature of reality, of testing and proving or disproving ideas. But it’s important to remember that science is ultimately a specialized way of being wrong. That is, every scientist tries to be (a) slightly less wrong than the scientists who came before them, by proving that something we thought was true actually isn’t, and (b) wrong in a way that can be tested and proven, which results in the next scientist being slightly less wrong. Research is the ongoing process of learning new things that show us a little more of what’s true, which inevitably reveals how wrong we used to be, and it is never “finished.” So whenever you read a headline like “New Study Shows…” or “Latest Research Finds…,” read with skepticism. One study does not equal proof of anything. In Burnout, we’ve aimed to use ideas that have been established over multiple decades and reinforced by multiple approaches. Still, science doesn’t offer perfect truth, only the best available truth. Science, in a sense, is not an exact science. ” Page 12, 4%, Yellow: “A third caveat: Science is often expensive, and who pays for it can influence the outcome and whether or not the results are published.” Page 12, 4.1%, Yellow: “Science has a fourth specific limitation worth mentioning in a book about women: When a research article says it studied “women,” it almost always means it studied people who were born in a body that made all the grown-ups around them say, “It’s a girl!” and then that person was raised as a girl and grew into an adult who felt comfortable in the psychological identity and social role of” Page 13, 4.1%, Yellow: ““woman.” There are plenty of people who identify as women for whom at least one of those things is not true, and there are plenty of people who don’t identify as women, for whom one or more of those things is true. In this book, when we use the word “woman,” we mostly mean “people who identify as women,” but it’s important to remember that when we describe the science, we’re limited to the women who were identified at birth and raised as women, because that’s mostly who has been studied. (Sorry.) ” Page 13, 4.3%, Yellow: “So. We try to be as science-based as we can be, but we’re aware of its limits. ” Page 13, 4.4%, Yellow: “THE OWL AND THE CHEESE Here’s a real study that real scientists really conducted: 11 Research participants were given some mazes—just lines on paper—and instructed that their goal was to get the cartoon mouse from one side of the maze to the other. In one version of the maze, a cartoon owl loomed over the page, hunting the mouse. In another version, a morsel of cheese awaited the mouse at its destination. Which group completed the maze faster, the ones who were moving toward the cheese, or the ones who were fleeing from the owl? The cheese group. Participants completed more mazes, more quickly, when their imaginations were propelled toward a reward even as mild as cartoon cheese, than when running away from an uncomfortable state even as subtle as the threat of a cartoon owl. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you’re moving toward a specific, desired goal, your attention and efforts are focused on that single outcome. But if you’re moving away from a threat, it hardly matters where you end up, as long as it’s somewhere safe from the threat. The moral of the story is: We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from. If we hate” Page 14, 4.7%, Yellow: “where we are, our first instinct often is to run aimlessly away from the owl of our present circumstances, which may lead us somewhere not much better than where we started. We need something positive to move toward. We need the cheese. ” --- ## 1. [[Completing the Cycle]] ### [[to deal with your stress, you have to complete the cycle]] > “Dealing with your stress is a separate process from dealing with the things that cause your stress. To deal with your stress, you have to complete the cycle. ” ^8yh1c ### [[stressors are what activate the stress response in your body]] > Let’s start by differentiating our stress from our stressors. Stressors are what activate the stress response in your body. They can be anything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or imagine could do you harm. There are external stressors: work, money, family, time, cultural norms and expectations, experiences of discrimination, and so on. And there are less tangible, internal stressors: self-criticism, body image, identity, memories, and The Future. In different ways and to different degrees, all of these things may be interpreted by your body as potential threats. Stress is the neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body when you encounter one of these threats. It’s an evolutionarily adaptive response that helps us cope with things like, say, being chased by a lion or charged by a hippo. ” ^wca39 ### [[just because you’ve dealt with the stressor doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with the stress itself]] > “The threat may have been dealt with by an act of God, but you’re left still needing to do something to let your body know you’re safe. The stress response cycle needs to complete, and just eliminating the stressor isn’t enough to do that” ^uosl7 ### [[telling yourself (or others) to calm down doesn't help]] > Just telling yourself, “You’re safe now; calm down,” doesn’t help. Even seeing the dead lion isn’t enough. You have to do something that signals to your body that you are safe, or else you’ll stay in that state, with neurochemicals and hormones degrading but never shifting into relaxation. Your digestive system, immune system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and reproductive system never get the signal that they’re safe. ” ^kkwo9 ### [[chronically activated stress response means chronically increased blood pressure]] > “Let’s think about what this does to just one system, the cardiovascular: Chronically activated stress response means chronically increased blood pressure, which is like constantly turning a firehose on in your blood vessels, when those vessels were designed by evolution to handle only a gently flowing stream. The increased wear and tear on your blood vessels leads to increased risk for heart disease. That’s how chronic stress leads to life-threatening illness. And this happens, remember, in every organ system in your body. Digestion. Immune functioning. Hormones. We are not built to live in that state. If we get stuck there, the physiological response intended to save us can instead slowly kill us. ” ^--1a4 ### [[it is absolutely essential that you give your body the resources it needs to complete the stress response cycles that have been activated]] > “While you’re managing the day’s stressors, your body is managing the day’s stress, and it is absolutely essential to your well-being—the way sleeping and eating are absolutely essential—that you give your body the resources it needs to complete the stress response cycles that have been activated. ” ^-qwu9 ### [[we get stuck in the stress response, because we’re stuck in a stress-activating situation]] > “We get stuck in the stress response, because we’re stuck in a stress-activating situation. ^dmvom ### [[stressors are only bad when we don't have the capacity to process the stress]] > That’s not always bad—it’s only bad when the stress outpaces our capacity to process it. ^56jxb ### [[sometimes the brain activates a stress response and you can’t do the thing it’s trying to tell you to do]] > Sometimes the brain activates a stress response and you can’t do the thing it’s trying to tell you to do: “Run!” it says, pumping out adrenaline for you. “I can’t!” you say. “I’m in the middle of an exam!” Or, “Punch that asshole in the face!” it says, dumping glucocorticoids into your bloodstream. “I can’t!” you say. “He’s my client!” So you sit politely and smile benignly and do your best, while your body stews in stress juice, waiting for you to do something. ^d76pf - Social Appropriateness ### [[sometimes the world tells you it’s wrong to feel that stress]] > And sometimes the world tells you it’s wrong to feel that stress—wrong for so many reasons, in so many ways. It’s not nice; it’s weak; it’s impolite. Many of us were raised to be “good girls,” to be “nice.” Fear and anger and other uncomfortable emotions can cause distress in the people around you, so it’s not nice to feel those things in front of other people. We smile and ignore our feelings, because our feelings matter less than the other person’s. And also it’s weak to feel those feelings, our culture has taught us. You’re a smart, strong woman, so when you’re walking down the street and a guy shouts, “Nice tits!” you tell yourself to ignore it. You tell yourself you’re not in danger, it’s irrational to feel angry or afraid, and anyway, that guy isn’t worth it, he doesn’t matter. Meanwhile, your brain shouts, “Gross!” and makes you walk faster. “What?” the guy who isn’t worth it calls after you. “Can’t you take a compliment?”” ^eh7lu > “Just ignore it,” you tell yourself, swallowing the adrenaline. “You’re too strong to be affected by this.” But it’s not just that it’s not nice, and it’s not just that it’s weak, it’s that it’s impolite, we’re taught. When your cousin posts a misogynistic comment on Facebook, you could YELL AT HIM FOR REPEATING NONSENSE THAT IS NOT MERELY FACTUALLY INCORRECT BUT ALSO MORALLY WRONG OMFG I CAN’T BELIEVE I EVEN STILL HAVE TO SAY THESE THINGS. Then he—and probably several other people—will respond that you might have a point, but he can’t listen to you when you’re so shrill. So angry. You need to make your point more politely if you want to be taken seriously. Be nice, be strong, be polite. No feelings for you. ^xdv8j ### [[dealing with the stressor only postpones your body’s need to complete the cycle - it doesn't replace it]] > Is there a strategy for dealing with, say, street harassment, that deals with both the situation and the stress caused by the situation? Sure. Turn around and slap that guy in the face. But then what? Will he suddenly realize that street harassment is bad and thus stop doing it? Probably not. More likely, the situation will escalate and he’ll hit you, in which case it just got way more dangerous. Sometimes walking away is the win. Smiling and being nice, ignoring it and telling yourself it doesn’t matter—these are survival strategies. Use them with pride. Just don’t forget that these survival strategies do not deal with the stress itself. They postpone your body’s need to complete the cycle; they don’t replace it. ^29lxt ### [[we all have incomplete stress response cycles]] > So many ways to deny, ignore, or suppress your stress response! For all these reasons and more, most of us are walking around with decades of incomplete stress response cycles simmering away in our chemistry, just waiting for a chance to complete. ^3op87 ### [[when we feel threatened the brain assesses and determines whether to fight or run]] > “We’ve been talking about the stress response in the familiar terms of “fight or flight.” When you feel threatened, the brain does a split-second assessment to determine which response is more likely to result in your survival.” ^lcn5r ### [[flight happens when your brain decides that you’re more likely to survive by trying to escape]] > “happens when your brain notices a threat and decides that you’re more likely to survive by trying to escape. That’s what happens when you run from a lion. ^15owc ### [[fight happens when your brain decides you’re more likely to survive by trying to defeat it]] > Fight happens when your brain decides you’re more likely to survive the threat by trying to conquer it. ^lg26u ### [[fight and flight is the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system telling you to DO something]] > From a biological point of view, fight and flight are essentially the same thing. Flight is fear—avoidance—whereas fight is anger— approach—but they’re both the “GO!” stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. They tell you to do something. ^3lz6s ### [[freeze is a response to threat where the brain decides that not doing anything is the best way to survive]] > Freeze is special. Freeze happens when the brain assesses the threat and decides you’re too slow to run and too small to fight, and so your best hope for survival is to “play dead” until the threat goes away or someone comes along to help you. ^l4kaq > Imagine you’re a gazelle running away from a lion. You’re midflight, full of adrenaline—but you feel the lion’s teeth chomp into your hip. What do you do? You can’t run anymore—the lion has hold of you. You can’t fight—the lion is much stronger. So your nervous system slams on the brakes. You collapse and play dead. That’s freeze. ^kz1dg ### [[the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the freeze response]] > Freeze is your last-ditch stress response, reserved for threats that the brain perceives as life-threatening, when fight or flight don’t stand a chance. In the middle of the gas pedal of stress response, your brain slams on the brakes— the parasympathetic nervous system swamping the sympathetic—and you shut down. ^1c1jn ### [[some women do nothing when they are being raped due to the freeze response]] > You don’t have to know about freeze in order for your brain to choose it, but if you don’t know that freeze exists, you may think about a circumstance where you were unsafe and wonder why you didn’t kick and scream, why you didn’t fight or run—why, in fact, you felt as if you couldn’t scream or kick or run. The reason is that you really couldn’t. Your brain was trying to keep you alive in the face of a threat that seemed unsurvivable, so it slammed on the brakes in a last­ditch attempt to do that. And you know what? It worked. Here you are. Alive and reading a book about stress. Hello! We’re really glad you’re here. We’re grateful to your brain for keeping you alive. ^0554n ### [[when your brain chooses fight it's related to anger]] > When your brain chooses fight, you may feel irritated, annoyed, frustrated, angry, irate, or enraged. ^ogmvx ### [[when your brain choses flight it's related to fear]] > When it chooses flight, we have words to describe that feeling: unsure, worried, anxious, scared, frightened, or terrified. ^hk6yw ### [[sympathetic nervous system]] ### [[parasympathetic nervous system]] ### [[when your brain chooses freeze it's beyond emotion]] > what are the words that describe the emotion of “freeze”? Words that might feel right: Shut down. Numb. Immobilized. Disconnected. Petrified. ^aj0nf > The very word sympathetic means “with emotion,” while parasympathetic—the system that controls freeze—means “beyond emotion.” You may feel disengaged from the world, sluggish, like you don’t care or nothing matters. You feel…outside. ^fs7e1 ### [[some people shake and shudder to complete the stress response]] > It happens to humans, too. People have told us, “That happened to my friend, when she was coming out from under anesthesia after surgery.” And, “My kid went through that in the emergency room.” And, “When I was coming to terms with a trauma I experienced, sometimes my body would go into this state where I felt out of control, and it scared me because I felt out of control during the trauma itself. Now I know it was actually my body taking care of me; it was part of my healing.” ^59hq7 ### [[animals complete the cycle by shaking and shuddering]] > “After a gazelle freezes in response to a lion attack, the lion, feeling smug, wanders off to get her cubs so they can feed on the gazelle. And that’s when the magic happens: Once the threat is gone, the brake gradually eases off, and the gazelle begins to shake and shudder. All the adrenaline and cortisol built up in her bloodstream get purged through this process, the same way running to safety purges those chemicals. ” ^8mymb > It happens in all mammals. One woman, when she learned about freeze, told us, “So that’s what happened to a cat I accidentally hit with my car—she was just lying there and I was terrified she was dead; I felt terrible. Then she started twitching and shaking and I thought she was having a seizure, until it was like she woke up…and then ran away.” ^3v2je ### [[humans may experience a normal physiological reaction when completing the cycle]] > Page 25, 9.1%, Yellow: “come off—the shaking, shuddering, muscle-stretching, involuntary response that is often accompanied by waves of rage, panic, and shame. If you don’t know what it is, it can feel scary. You might try to fight it or control it. That’s why it’s so important that we give it a name: We call it “the Feels,” and it’s nothing to fear. It’s a normal, healthy part of completing the cycle, a physiological reaction that will end on its own, usually lasting just a few minutes. Feels usually happen in extreme cases where the stress response cycle is interrupted suddenly and not allowed to complete. It’s part of the healing process following a traumatic event or long-term, intense stress. ^jgqs2 ### [[crying is one of the ways that I complete the cycle]] > Trust your body. The sensations may bring awareness of their origins, or they may not; doesn’t matter. Awareness and insight are not required in order for the Feels to move through you and out of you. Crying for no apparent reason? Great! Just notice any apparently causeless emotions or sensations or trembling and say, “Ah. There’s some Feels.” ^ulzae > Page 28, 10.9%, Yellow: “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 the stress.” ^9gmmc ### [[physical activity is the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress response cycle]] > When you’re being chased by a lion, what do you do? You run. When you’re stressed out by the bureaucracy and hassle of living in the twenty-first century, what do you do? You run. Or swim. Or dance around your living room, singing along to Beyoncé, or sweat it out in a Zumba class, or do literally anything that moves your body enough to get you breathing deeply. For how long? Between twenty and sixty minutes a day does it for most folks. And it should be most days—after all, you experience stress most days, so you should complete the stress response cycle most days, too. ” ^s0pof ### [[breathing can help complete part of the cycle]] > Page 26, 9.7%, Yellow: “Breathing. Deep, slow breaths downregulate the stress response—especially when the exhalation is long and slow and goes all the way to the end of the breath, so that your belly contracts. Breathing is most effective when your stress isn’t that high, or when you just need to siphon off the very worst of the stress so that you can get through a difficult situation, after which you’ll do something more hardcore” ^-cl7i --- Page 26, 9.9%, Yellow: “Positive Social Interaction. Casual but friendly social interaction is the first external sign that the world is a safe place.” Page 27, 10%, Yellow: “Laughter. Laughing together—and even just reminiscing about the times we’ve laughed together—increases relationship satisfaction. ” Page 27, 10.1%, Yellow: “Affection. When friendly chitchat with colleagues doesn’t cut it, when you’re too stressed out for laughter, deeper connection with a loving presence is called for. Most often, this comes from some loving and beloved person who likes, respects, and trusts you, whom you like, respect, and trust. It doesn’t have to be physical affection, though physical affection is great; a warm hug, in a safe and trusting context, can do as much to help your body feel like it has escaped a threat as jogging a couple of miles, and it’s a heck of a lot less sweaty. ” Page 27, 10.3%, Yellow: “One example of affection is the “six-second kiss” advice from relationship researcher John Gottman. Every day, he suggests, kiss your partner for six seconds. That’s one six-second kiss, mind you, not six one-second kisses. Six seconds is, if you think about it, a potentially awkwardly long kiss. But there’s a reason for it: Six seconds is too long to kiss someone you resent or dislike, and it’s far too long to kiss someone with whom you feel unsafe. Kissing for six seconds requires that you stop and deliberately notice that you like this person, that you trust them, and that you feel affection for them. By noticing those things, the kiss tells your body that you are safe with your tribe.” Page 27, 10.4%, Yellow: “Hug someone you love and trust for twenty full seconds, while both of you are standing over your own centers of balance. Most of the time when we hug people, it’s a quick, lean-in type hug, or it might be a longer hug where you each lean on each other, so that if one person lets go, the other person would fall over. Instead, support your own weight, as your partner does the same, and put your arms around each other. Hold on. The research suggests a twenty-second hug can change your hormones, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and improve mood, all of which are reflected in the post-hug increase in the social-bonding hormone oxytocin. ” Page 28, 11.1%, Yellow: “Creative Expression. Engaging in creative activities today leads to more energy, excitement, and enthusiasm tomorrow. ” Page 31, 12.1%, Yellow: “There are so many ways to complete the cycle, it’s not possible to catalogue all of them here. Physical activity, affection, laughter, creative expression, and even just breathing have something in common as strategies, though: you have to do something. ” --- ### [[completing the cycle is a physiological shift]] > Page 31, 12.1%, Yellow: “Completing the cycle isn’t an intellectual decision; it’s a physiological shift. ” ^638l3 ### [[your body will tell you when you complete the cycle]] > Page 31, 12.2%, Yellow: “It’s like knowing when you’re full after a meal, or like knowing when you’ve had an orgasm. Your body tells you, and it’s easier for some people to recognize than others. You might experience it as a shift in mood or mental state or physical tension, as you breathe more deeply and your thoughts relax. For some people, it’s as obvious as knowing that they’re breathing” ^ssh85 ### [[completing the cycle is about feeling the shift]] > Page 31, 12.3%, Yellow: “Long before she knew about the science, she knew that when she felt stressed and tense and terrible, she could go for a run or for a bike ride and at the end of it she would feel better. Even on the days when she looked at her shoes and thought, Ugh, I just don’t want to, she knew that on the other side of those shoes and that run or that ride was peace. Once, she even cried at the top of a hill in southeastern Pennsylvanian farm country, breathing hard and marveling at the smell of cows and the glow of sunlight on the pavement, as the gears of her bike whirred under her. She has always been able to feel it intuitively, the shift inside her body. ” ^yg64n ### [[completing the cycle may need a few layers of 'doing']] > Page 31, 12.5%, Yellow: “If she has let the stress accumulate inside her for days or weeks, one workout won’t get her all the way there. She’ll feel better at the end of a run, but not done. ” ^j396s ### [[giving a big sigh can indicate completing the cycle]] > Page 32, 12.9%, Yellow: “The big sigh was the signal that her little body had made the shift” ^kwqhy ### [[different strategies will work at different times]] > Page 33, 13.1%, Yellow: “you’ll probably find that different strategies work better on different days, and sometimes the strategy that works best isn’t practical day to day, so you need a backup strategy.” ^zvasq ### [[you have to build completing the cycle into every day]] > Page 33, 13.2%, Yellow: “Thirty minutes of anything that works for you: exercise, meditation, creative expression, affection, etc. Because you experience stress every day, you have to build completing the cycle into every day. Make it a priority, like your life depends on it. Because it does. ” ^xx68w Page 33, 13.4%, Yellow: “For a lot of people, the most difficult thing about “completing the cycle” is that it almost always requires that they stop dealing with whatever caused the stress, step away from that situation, and turn instead toward their own body and emotions. ” Page 33, 13.4%, Yellow: “dealing with the stressor and dealing with the stress are two different processes, and you have to do both. ” Page 33, 13.5%, Yellow: “Signs You Need to Deal with the Stress, Even If It Means Ignoring the Stressor ” Page 33, 13.5%, Yellow: “Your brain and body exhibit predictable signs when your stress level is elevated, and these serve as reliable cues that indicate you need to deal with the stress” Page 34, 13.5%, Yellow: “itself before you can be effective in dealing with the stressor. ” Page 34, 13.5%, Yellow: “1. You notice yourself doing the same, apparently pointless thing over and over again, or engaging in self-destructive behaviors.” Page 34, 13.7%, Yellow: “2. “Chandeliering.” This is Brené Brown’s term for the sudden, overwhelming burst of pain so intense you can no longer contain it, and you jump as high as the chandelier. It’s out of proportion to what’s happening in the here and now, but it’s not out of proportion to the suffering you’re holding inside. And it has to go somewhere. So it erupts. That eruption is a sign you’re past your threshold and need to deal with the stress before you can deal with the stressor” Page 34, 13.8%, Yellow: “3. You turn into a bunny hiding under a hedge. Imagine a rabbit being chased by a fox, and she runs under a bush to hide. How long does she stay there? Until the fox is gone, right? When your brain is stuck in the middle of the cycle, it may lose the ability to recognize that the fox has gone, so you just stay under that bush—that is, you come home from work and watch cat videos while eating ice cream directly from the container, using potato chips for a spoon, or stay in bed all weekend, hiding from your life. If you’re hiding from your life, you’re past your threshold. You aren’t dealing with either the stress or the stressor. Deal with the stress so you can be well enough to deal with the stressor.” Page 34, 13.9%, Yellow: “4. Your body feels out of whack. Maybe you’re sick all the time: you have chronic pain, injuries that just won’t heal, or infections that keep coming back. Because stress is not “just stress,” but a biological event that really happens inside your body, it can cause biological problems that really happen inside your body but can’t always be explained with obvious diagnoses. Chronic illness and injury can be caused or exacerbated by chronic activation of the stress response. ” Page 36, 14.8%, Yellow: “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. Wellness happens when your body is a place of safety for you, even when your body is not necessarily in a safe place. You can be well, even during the times when you don’t feel good” Page 37, 15.1%, Blue: “tl;dr: • Just because you’ve dealt with a stressor, that doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with the stress itself. And you have to deal with the stress—“complete the cycle”—or it will slowly kill you. • Physical activity is the single most efficient strategy for completing the cycle—even if it’s just jumping up and down or a good old cry. • Affection—a six-second kiss, a twenty-second hug, six minutes of snuggling after sex, helpless laughter—are social strategies that complete the cycle, along with creative self-expression— writing, drawing, singing, whatever gives you a safe place to move through the emotional cycle of stress. • “Wellness”is the freedom to move fluidly through the cycles of being human. Wellness is thus not a state of being; it is a state of action.”