Monday, January 27, 2014

Are you stress-hardy?

In her book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, Joan Borysenko talks about the "stress-hardy personality," based on psychologist Suzanne Kobasa's work.

Kobasa describes three essential characteristics of a stress-hardy personality:

Control. This is "the inclination to believe and act as if you can influence the events of your life," an element she says creates resilience. Such people also "take responsibility for their own part in whatever is happening."

Challenge. Kobasa says such people understand that "change is the only constant in life." Individuals who do so "are realists who anticipate stressful events and are therefore more prepared for their occurrence," she says.

Commitment. This is based "on an inner sense of self-respect that shows up as the willingness to participate meaningfully in every aspect of life, adding value to work, personal relationships, and the community at large." She calls this a "passionate involvement with life."

If you feel burned out now or ever have felt it, I highly recommend this book. Borysenko is honest and transparent about her own journey through burnout and gives practical tips on moving past it. And the good news about Kobasa's work is that she stresses that people can learn how to be more stress-hardy. It's not a matter of being born with those characteristics. You can make a choice to become more resilient and more resistant to the effects of stress.

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