Little worried or a touch stressed out and then you are trying to try to do ALL the things? and you keep yourself really busy and you pile on extra tasks and you try to take care of everything and control everything but then you burn out and then you beat yourself up and you’re exhausted and you feel like you’re a failure or whatever and then after you’ve rested for a little while you’re like hmm you know what?… maybe if I just try harder the next time, I can do it, and then you start that whole cycle over? well, this is a super common cycle, I see it in my family, I see it in my clients and today we’re going to talk about how to break the anxiety burnout depression cycle.
Hi everyone, Emma McAdam here, I’m a licensed therapist and this video is sponsored by BetterHelp where you can get professional, affordable online counseling for around65$ a week so check out the link in the description for 10% off your first month.I’m currently working with a couple of clients who all get stuck in this pattern where they feel anxiety and then they try to keep super busy to avoid feeling anxious and then they burn out and they end up depressed.
I’ve seen this pattern in my family and a lot of my clients and from what I can tell it’s a pretty common way that anxiety turns into depression. So in this video, you’re going to learn all about how to identify and replace this pattern with a more helpful, sustainable approach. So let’s start by taking a look at each of those stages.So stage one is anxiety. Now, this anxiety may not seem to come from anywhere might be due to an old trauma or it might be more genetic or just an old habit but regardless of why you feel it, it’sthe feeling of anxiety so you might feel uncertain if you’re good enough or you might feel jittery or unsure or you might feel worried that you’re going nowhere or worried about the future or worried about money or something or it might just be more in your body you know, you might just feel tenser or more stressed.
Anxiety is uncomfortable and most of us just want it to go away. So step two of this cycle is to run, to run about, to keep busy, to try to do as much as you physically can.So, for example, one of my clients took too many classes in college she was trying to train for a marathon she started an intense diet and she was also working a bunch of hours at her job.This stage, stage two, is where you try to use willpower to get everything done you try to control everything you wake up early you say yes to too many things and you just try to work harder or faster or you try to be more perfect you think if I can only do everything or if I can at least just stay busy then I won’t feel anxious anymore.So then comes burnout, this is the exhaustion stage.
So for example, one of my clients felt tired and overwhelmed, and depressed she felt like she wasn’t good enough she had a hard time feeling motivated but for a while, she kept dragging herself out of bed until she reached the breaking point and then she had a meltdown at work, she got a stress fracture, she ended up quitting the marathon training but she was exhausted and she started to sleep for like12 to 16 hours each day and at this stage depression kicks in the right, you’ll feel like there is no hope this is that the stage where you wonder like what’s the point in trying.
My client started to beat herself up and asking herself you know “am I a failure?” you had put altogether of your effort all of your willpower and now in your mind you’re like well, my best efforts just lead to failure.So when you’ve tried so hard to escape feeling by doing everything you everything that you know how to do but you still feel crappy, this is when some people start thinking of suicide as their only escape.So for many, they’ve tried everything they know of but their attempts to run, to go faster, just leave them feeling anxious and exhausted.
So for my client, the semester ended, she took a couple of weeks off of work and she just slept for most of the day and then you know watched Netflix for most of the rest and then when she started to feel less exhausted she started thinking “oh I’m I’m not a failure, I just have to try harder next time.”If I only try harder or do it better then I won’t fail.” So as her worries started to build, she signed up for more projects, started a new diet,
She enrolled in more classes and that’s how the cycle repeats. So do you see this cycle in yourself?You don’t have to stay stuck in it, so let’s talk about breaking the cycle at each of the four stages. So in this video, I’m going to give you an overview of the skills you can use at each of these stages to break this cycle but I’m not going to teach each of these skills because each of them takes sometimes I teach each of these skills in my anxiety skills playlist and my grounding skills playlist and some of my other videos so check those out to learn how to do this.
So let’s talk about stage one which is anxiety is all about perceived dangers instead of running away create a sense of safety if you fear not being good enough build your self-worth on something you can control like your integrity and your values instead of on accomplishments or doing more. When you feel anxiouspracticegrounding techniques and calm your body before you choose a course of action. Don’t let your anxiety brain convince you that everything is awful so instead practice gratitude and look for the good in your life and yourself.
Managing anxiety is all about slowing down and restoring your sense of personal power and safety it’s about understanding your locus of control which is accepting what you can’t change and changing what you can.The second part of this cycle is the fight or flight response, it’s a short-term sprint to get away from dangers trying to do a marathon a school an extreme diet, and a relationship and work it’s like a gazelle running away from a cheetah, it works for a little while but it’s not sustainable in the long run so don’t get stuck running.
Don’t get stuck running away from your anxiety so slow down breathe calm your body even in the middle of stressful tasks choose sustainable action instead of a sprint, this includes saying no to a few things.Okay stage three to avoid the burn out stage you need to plan in and schedule time for regular rest and self-care this creates the opportunity for regular and sustainable growth and when you do fall short learn to respond to your mistakes with self-compassion instead of self-flagellation so beating yourself up or using fear as your motivator it only works in the short term but in the long run it’s going to drain you of motivation and energy instead practice self-compassion and at stage 4, instead of just repeating the cycle,identify it, write down what it looks like in your life so identify each of the stages of your personal anxiety-burnout-exhaustion cycle use a growth mindset and ask yourself like what can I learn from this for me and I think for a lot of people journaling or writing things down can really help you look at the big picture like you really can intervene at each stage of this cycle in your life when you start to practice the little skills and incorporate them into your actions you can turn this downward spiral into an upward spiral of sustainable growth.
So, slow things down choose intentional action instead of just reacting instead of just running, take the time to take care of yourself, and treat yourself with compassion donut forget to breathe, you’ve got this. If you appreciate mental health skills in concise little packages, you can support this channel on Patreon.Thank you for watching and take care.