The Three Stages of Excess Mental Stress

man squeezing headWhat is Your Stress Barometer?

Stress is part of life. Short-term it can rev you up for an audition or a performance. Unfortunately, many performers tend to ignore stress until they are mentally and/or physically exhausted. The trick is to catch the early warning signs of excess stress and find ways to recover before you burn out.

The first stage that something is wrong often begins with feeling overwhelmed by too many demands on your time and energy. Symptoms range from fatigue to physical problems, such as headaches, back pain, or gastrointestinal problems. You may also find it more difficult to focus on your work and blank out during a dance combination, monologue, or song.

Performers who push themselves to work harder in spite of these early signs move into the next stage, as the constant onslaught of stress hormones begins to take its toll. Your eating, mood, and sleeping habits frequently change for the worse. You will also be more likely to try to conserve energy by procrastinating, showing up late, cutting classes, and withdrawing from friends.

The final phase of excessive and prolonged stress is complete exhaustion. Your immune system is impaired, making you prone to chronic colds, low grade fevers, allergies, and depression. To keep stress in check, it helps to use weekly rejuvenating activities like meditation, yoga and massage, take several 15-minute breaks during the day and an hour off from technology (including your cell phone), and plan a vacation instead of another gig. If you’ve developed a serious case of burnout, you may need three months of downtime to recover. The best remedy is prevention.

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2 Responses to The Three Stages of Excess Mental Stress

  1. sayaka kato says:

    I came here from Japan 3 weeks ago. When I was in Japan, I didn’t have any stresses. But now, environment is change. I feel many stresses in here. First,I have started to study English since 3 years ago and still learning. I can understand what teachers talking about and I can speak a little bit. But it’s not my first language. So sometimes I can’t explain what I want to tell… It’s really stressful for me. Second, I graduated high school on march and it is my first time to live by my self. I can cook. My roommates are good and place I live is also good. So there is nothing of huge problem. But I feel lonely sometimes. Before I came here ,there is a family around me and I could speak whatever whenever I want. But environment around me was completely change. Finally, my body is exhausted every single days. I like classes at Ailey. But to take a class in English is hard That’s the reason why my body and brain are tired. All in all, I have to learn hoe to relax and take rest.I’m enjoying the life in her. Because this is what I wanted.I hope to find the way to control my self and be a dancer that I want to be.
    {sorry about my english vocabulary }

    • Dr. Linda Hamilton says:

      It’s normal to experience stress when life events (both positive & negative) add up. Right now, you’re dealing with a new country, different language, pressures from school & loss of your family. You need time to adjust, while developing a new support system of friends. Try to spend more time with your roommates & find ways to relax (e.g., hobbies, music, meditation, yoga). Even American students experience stress when they move away from home.

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