Do you find yourself coming home and blurting “It’s been a hell of a week!” The weekend whizzes by and you soon back at work on Monday for another Hell Week. You are due some Healing Time.
Work hard and play hard is an old motto. Unfortunately it is not one that is sustainable or healthy. Too often, we are pressing hard at work. Our stress, by the time Friday comes, is through the roof. Then there is the weekend to ‘recover’ which may sometimes mean to workout or party hard. The outcome is a return to work on Monday, exhausted and another full week to look forward to.
There are many who seek ‘balance’ in life. Some see it as an equal between working hard and party hard as noted above. There seems to be an implicit sense of equality. That an effort is balance by an equal amount of recovery.
Sadly, that is not the truth. When preparing for an opening of a musical theatre production, we go through what is called Hell Week – the week before opening. Everyone is stressed and tired. Emotions run high and tempers flare as all try to excel and ready for the current to rise.
I’ve found that recovery from a show run is not equal to the amount of effort put in. In fact, I call it the rule of Pi (ie 3.14). It takes three times the amount of healing time for the amount of hell time. I’ve also observed that many cast and crew become ill during this time period of stress.
The physiological reaction to stress that results in this illness streak is called the General Adaptation Syndrome and it has three stages.
Stage 1: Alarm Reaction (AR)
The first stage of the general adaptation stage, the alarm reaction, is the immediate reaction to a stressor. In the initial phase of stress, we have a “flight or fight” response which prepares us for physical activity. However this response can decrease our immune system response to illness.
Stage 2: Stage of Resistance (SR)
Stage 2 might also be named the stage of adaptation, instead of the stage of resistance. During this phase, if the stress continues the body adapts to the stressors. Changes at many levels take place in order to reduce the effect of the stressor.
Stage 3: Stage of Exhaustion (SE)
At stage,the stress has continued for some time.The body’s resistance to the stress gradually reduces and collapses. This means the immune system and the body’s ability to resist disease is eliminated. Those who experience long-term stress can succumb to heart attacks or severe infection.
For those of us who lead stressful lives – it becomes imperative that periods of restoration and healing be incorporated if you want to maintain your health. Regular relaxation activities such as yoga can offer restorative healing sessions so that you can face Monday all over again.