Stress & Overwhelm Relief Game Plan
with Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT, NBCHWC
I am going to teach you 6 manageable steps to help you get immediate relief of stress and overwhelm today! Plus, I have two body-focused practices I’ll teach you over this week. Keep your eyes peeled for those emails.
But first, I want to bring your attention to why you may be so stressed to begin with. In my work of coaching executives, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, the number one issue leading to burnout is…
Not having white space in your schedule for stress recovery and not knowing what to do that effectively results in stress recovery.
If you’ve been pushing yourself in your career while also adding on increased family responsibilities or dealing with a health challenge without matching those increased demands with new skills and resources then it’s no wonder stress is taking its toll. If you are dealing with brain fog, anxiety, insomnia, GI upset, chronic fatigue, increased pain, or irritability it could be the result of long term unchecked stress.
I’m so glad you found your way to my work because my mission and the reason I created the Somatic Attunement Method™ is to help you prevent and recover from burnout so you can show up as the grounded, insightful, creative, and energized person you are.
The typical generic advice is that you need to increase “self-care.” I disagree with that because adding more to your schedule will add to your stress. The first step isn’t to add more.
>>> It’s to strategically DO LESS!
I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, a leadership and burnout management expert with over 15 years of experience helping professionals learn to create more satisfying lives that feel ‘spacious instead of squeezed.’ I’m honored to share the Stress & Overwhelm Relief Game Plan with you to help you get started.
Each of the 6 strategies in this guide will have an immediate impact on your stress level. Collectively, they will help you feel a sizable shift. Start by reading through the whole guide and pick just one that you can easily start with. Then add in the next one that appeals to you. Work through the rest at your own pace and feel the difference!
The single purpose of this guide is to help you create moments of white space in your daily life. Then you will be on track to learn the specific, short, simple, and effective body-based skills and integrative health strategies from the Somatic Attunement Method™ to better respond to the stress in your life.
Ready to dive in?
#1 Reduce Caffeine
Believe it or not, while caffeine may give you a much needed energy boost it increases physiologic stress in your body and stokes anxiety. Only 1 in 10 people can actually metabolize caffeine without some negative effects. Before you assume you are one of the lucky 10%, ask yourself if you get revved up, mentally scattered, or emotionally edgy after drinking coffee.
Caffeine can also disrupt your sleep. Science shows that it can negatively impact your body 12-14 hours after consumption. Even if you’re drinking caffeine before noon, if you are waking up at 4am the first thing I want you to do is cut out caffeine.
Question if your response to caffeine has changed at all over the past couple of years. Many clients are surprised to learn that because they’ve under higher intensity of stress and their body’s stress resilience has plummeted as a result that they experience the negative effects of caffeine more strongly.
I am a tea lover! I’m not saying you have to ditch your ritual of drinking a hot beverage, but switch to an uncaffeinated option like herbal coffee or herbal and adaptogenic teas. If you struggle to quit cold turkey then switch to a low caffeine option like decaf coffee or teas like white or green and monitor how you’re experiencing stress to see if it’s helping.
#2 Hit Unsubscribe
Guess how many new emails hit your inbox across all of your email addresses on a daily basis. Is it 20, 30, 50, or more? How much of your energy and attention do you spend to manage your email inbox? Most people are shocked when they start to audit this.
Unmanaged email is a recipe for decision fatigue because with every email that comes in you have to decide what to do with it!
I’m not saying you need to strive for inbox zero. That’s too much pressure. I want you to significantly reduce the number of messages coming in so that you only receive what is valuable and important to you.
Personal Email Management
First, let’s cover your personal email inboxes. As you review each new email, ask yourself if they:
a) Are necessary (like an email from your bank about an upcoming bill)
b) Are not trying to sell you something
c) Are directly improving your daily life (i.e. adding knowledge, humor, connection).
If they meet at least 2 of these criteria then consider keeping them. Otherwise, unsubscribe for now. You can always join a list again. Do not stay on email lists “just in case,” especially for retailers.
Workplace Email Management
For work email, you may feel like you’re getting bombarded with new emails or overwhelmed by how many unanswered emails are in your queue. Studies show that If you have hundreds of unanswered emails or feel like you have to “catch up” in your evening or weekend time that it can lead to burnout and disengagement.
Science shows that the best email management practice, regardless of personality, is to have specified times in your daily calendar to respond to email (during work hours). The reason my clients adopt this strategy is because they can focus on just doing this one thing for that timeframe. Done with intention, this prevents multi-tasking and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you’re done.
Start doing one of three things with each email in your inbox:
- Delete: Remove what’s unnecessary and does not require a response
- Respond: Immediately respond to urgent correspondence or time sensitive demands
- File: Anything non urgent that does not require an immediate response or that you need to read over later gets filed in a folder or marked with a star. Go through filed emails as time allows during designated blocked email sessions on your calendar or when you have down time in work hours.
If you are in a leadership position, educate your team on what types of emails you need to be copied on and which you don’t. Create expectations about when “reply all” is appropriately used in your department.
#3 Disable Notifications
Most likely you have one of your devices within reach at all times. Between your smartphone, tablet, and laptop the number of daily notifications adds up. The problem is that all those banner messages, rings, and dings from your devices are distracting. Literally, with each one you experience it will take your brain at least a couple of minutes to recover focus.
If you are at capacity with your workload (i.e. feeling maxed out) then disabling notifications can help your productivity.
Fewer distractions = Less time wasted trying to get back on task and more work completed.
Plus, digital notifications create a false sense of urgency (hello dopamine hit) that adds more stress to your already stressed out nervous system.
If you are feeling anxious because you don’t want to “miss out” on something important then remember that you can have devoted times in your calendar for checking emails, internal communication systems, and social media. Getting a notification while you’re in the middle of something else is purely disruptive.
Remember, you can always turn notifications back on anytime you want!
Four Steps to Disable Notifications & Free Up Bandwidth
Try these tips for turning off notifications on your devices. They should take you less than 5 minutes each and will end up saving you hours!
1) Stop Smartphone Notifications
You might be shocked if you knew how many times you touch your smartphone a day just to see if there’s a message. With every notification there is a temptation to swipe and see what it says. Even though 9 out of 10 of them are not important, it’s so tempting to look at it which can easily put you down a ‘rabbit hole’ of mindless scrolling when you shouldn’t be.
Open the settings app on your phone and scroll to notifications. You’ll see every app listed where you can easily click to turn off notifications. You can also silence notifications or specify which event within an app should trigger a notification. Delete any apps you no longer use.
Need more guidance? Here’s an article that walks you through the steps to change your notifications specific to what brand of phone you have.
Taking a few minutes for this simple step will make sure your phone is only notifying you when it needs to!
2) Decrease Laptop/Computer Notifications
Similarly, you will feel less overwhelmed if you tame your computer notifications.
Opening your settings menu on your computer and click on ‘notifications,’ you can silence them, edit what signals an alert, or turn them off altogether. Personally, I felt much more productive after I turned social media and email notifications OFF on my laptop. If I need to check for those then I open the program when it’s appropriate given my schedule for the day.
This article walks you through how to change your computer notifications settings in detail.
3) Turn Off Your Smartwatch Bluetooth
If you wear a smartwatch then turn OFF the bluetooth setting unless you are syncing data between the watch and your phone. If you wear an Apple watch then put it into airplane mode while you’re working or trying to relax. The constant notifications buzzing and dinging on your wrist is another unnecessary & stressful distraction.
Bonus: Disabling bluetooth extends the watch’s battery life significantly.
4) Detox from Social Media
If you’re on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, you have probably followed people and groups that no longer resonate with the inputs you want in your life.
For Facebook, go to the groups list and remove yourself from any that do not spark a HELL YES. Trust that you can always rejoin later on. Take 5 minutes and scroll through your friends list or home feed. Any people or pages that no longer feel like they are serving you get unfollowed or muted.
Do the same for the other platforms. If you are on them, be discerning and question what VALUE each person/page/product you follow brings to your daily life in this busy season of life. If you struggle to name how it benefits you then unfollow!
Any time you are on social media, notice what sensations arise in your body when you see certain images or messages. Your body will convey subtle discomforts like a change in your breathing or tension when you encounter something that causes stress. It’s okay to prioritize the messages your body is giving you over whether you think you “should” be able to engage with something. Political, polarizing, and ranting people and pages aren’t doing your nervous system any favors.
#4 Avoid Multitasking
Most likely you have a habit of doing more than one thing at a time (AKA multitasking). Identify what activities you tend to multitask. I want you to focus on doing just ONE thing at a time. It may feel like it slows you down at first, but I guarantee it will be less mentally and emotionally exhausting in the end. You will also notice that you enjoy the things you do in your daily life and work day more too.
Personally, nothing adds stress to family time more than when I’m multi-tasking. Experiment with giving yourself permission to be FULLY present while you are doing family activities.
Common examples of multi-tasking I’ve found with my private clientele are scheduling calls when they know they’ll be driving, listening to podcasts or trainings while exercising, eating while driving, working while they watch their kid at their activity (like soccer or dance class), scheduling work calls while doing a family outing, and being on their laptop or smartphone through all of the above.
#5 Take a Break from News
I urge you to take at least a two week break from the news in print, on television, or from listening to it on the radio!
If you must have updates then ask a trusted friend or family member to give you the big picture news and tell them how/when you want to receive that. After that timeframe, ease back into your normal consumption, but be discerning and intentional about how your body feels and whether news media is stressful.
If you turn it on and start to feel signs of stress in your body then respond by turning it off!
#6 Go On a “NO Diet”
This last one is so important! Don’t just read over it.
Make a commitment right now that you will NOT add anything else new to your to-do list or schedule that is not absolutely essential for a designated period of time. I recommend setting it for two to four weeks. If there’s a new project or something you are heart set on starting then it needs to fit into your schedule a month from now, for example.
You’ve been overstuffing your schedule for a long time! Most likely, you overestimate what your nervous system and body can handle and you underestimate the value of white space in your life.
Practice saying “no” and setting expectations more regularly. For example, if a client says they need to schedule an impromptu meeting then let them know when the next available opening you actually have will be. You can say, “I see how important this is for you. I’ve opened up my earliest available time for the meeting and it is ______ (in two weeks).” Resist the habit of stretching yourself thin to be everyone else’s “problem solver.” The person it damages is you!
Know that when you set an expectation or say “no” that you don’t need to give an explanation or apology. Say what you need to say and then STOP TALKING. My clients commonly report that they thought they had to have a reason others would find worthy in order to say “no.” Notice how liberating it is to accept that you don’t need a reason to say “no” other than your body says “no.”
I hope you found the strategies in this guide helpful. They are meant to be simple to implement and give you more energy back than they take to complete! By making these 6 manageable changes, you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed which is a critical first step to kick off your burnout recovery.
Next, keep an eye out for an email from me with a short guided video on how to better pace your energy throughout the day. This is a simple skill once you learn it and can really help you at this stage.
Want a deeper level of professional support?
Check out these offers to work with me.
REVIVE is a virtual 2-Day VIP Experience where we hash out your personalized, step-by-step plan to kickstart burnout recovery for the next three months.
We roll up our sleeves and implement during these two half days. We’ll literally modify your schedule, shift your perspective on time and energy, and give you the precise body-focused recovery tools and integrative health strategies that will soothe your overworked nervous system. You’ll notice immediate improvement following the REVIVE framework.
SPACIOUS is a 9-month 1:1 coaching program where you get generous support to transform burnout habits while still going after your goals. We’ll meet biweekly virtually to shift you from squeezed to spacious & satisfied with your life.
You get access to the full Somatic Attunement Method™ which is what you need for full repair of the impact long term stress has placed on your body, your career fulfillment, and your relationships. This program results in “inside out” change…proven, sustainable changes so you feel content, at ease, and can enjoy the life you’ve work so hard to build.
Schedule a 20-minute call to ask any questions about working with Crystal and to clarify your next best step given your unique situation!
Hi, I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT, NBCHWC
Pioneer in Women’s Stress Resilience
Creator of the Somatic Attunement Method™
Upcoming Author of REVIVE: The Working Woman’s Unexpected Guide to Recovering from Burnout
I’ve been a women’s integrative health and master coach for over a decade. I specialize in teaching high-achieving women how to transform debilitating stress into a sustainable feeling of resilience that can withstand life’s uncertainties and chaos.
When I say resilience, I mean shifting from dysregulation (aka living in survival mode) to feeling calm and in control, able to perform optimally, have more than enough energy, easily connect to yourself and others, and feel grounded no matter what comes your way.
I offer the “finally someone gets me” solution to ending burnout for good! Unlike other programs, my Somatic Attunement Method™ was explicitly designed to help smart, ambitious, working women with intense lives and years of prolonged stress recover from burnout with the shortest timeframe possible.
I teach only what you need to re-regulate the nervous system and brain through body-based skills training through careful pacing so healing doesn’t become just one more thing on the to-do list.
It’s taken 8 years in college to complete my doctorate, 14 years of clinical practice, and hundreds of hours studying and getting advanced credentials in neuroscience, stress physiology, behavior change, mind-body medicine, and women’s integrative health to establish this body of work – plus my own lived experience of anxiety, trauma, over achievement, and burnout recovery.
It’s my mission to help women professionals and leaders feel SPACIOUS instead of squeezed as they pursue their work and family dreams. I coach and mentor professional women and teams through my signature programs, high-value workshops, and speaking events.