Rest the stress away


It can hit you like a ton of bricks, everything suddenly becomes too much and you find yourself heading for a burnout. Journalist Anneke Bots follows architect Lisa in her search for a solution and discovers some surprising insights.

The key to healing from a stress overload is first of all learning how to rest. After that, you can work on self-management, which will prevent you from reaching this state again. Resting isn’t easy if you feel super stressed at the smallest provocation and can’t find the ‘off’ button. “It’s quite a challenge to find out what helps you the most personally, but it’s generally a good starting point to accept that it’s okay that you’re not okay and not to feel guilty about that,” Carolien Hamming, director at the Chronic Stress Reversal Center, says.

“Rest up, and learn to simply do nothing without feeling embarrassed, but keep some structure in your day. Loaf about, but try not to worry a lot. Being out in fresh air, taking a walk, visiting a spa, getting a massage—those things usually do a world of good. But for people with a burnout, sports are actually not a good idea. When you’re physically active, your body creates extra stress hormones and that’s exactly what you don’t need. To recover, the repair system in your body needs to be dominant. So it’s the opposite of what you’ve been doing in the previous years, when the activating stress system was dominant all that time. Seek out social support; talking to friends can 
be really good. But also remember, when you’re in the midst of a burnout even that can generate stress, so don’t do it then. Listen carefully to your body and see what works for you.”

“Take your body seriously when it tells you it’s tired, and take a nap,” adds doctor and burnout coach Gijs Schraa. “You shouldn’t worry you won’t be able to sleep at night afterwards. It’s a good thing to let your body get used to sleeping again. Rest is very important to build up stores of energy.” Schraa recommends you take a bit of distance in order to keep stress down to a healthy low level. “Make sure you think about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it on a regular basis and before things derail. Put your affairs in order and most importantly also plan moments of rest.”

  • Read the full story ‘Rest the stress away’ in Issue 26.

Text Anneke Bots Photography ©Blai Baules/Stocksy United