This month’s question comes from Zaffer:

 

Hi Kate,

How do I manage stress & fatigue so that my health doesn’t deteriorate?

 

My Answer:

This is a great question because the unfortunate reality is that our health will and does deteriorate in one way or another when we’re living with chronic stress.

This is the modern-day health crisis = We are living a life our body wasn’t designed for.

It was designed to experience a high-stress moment (in the sympathetic nervous system state) maybe once every couple of months and then revert back to a calm resting state (the parasympathetic nervous system) until the next big stress. Just like animals living in the wild.

 

So, what do we do? Well, the answer is essentially what my work and my message are all about…

 

We learn to manage stress through maintaining healthy ‘ways of being’ to counteract the modern-day lifestyle.

Then when stress is a challenge, we use more specific tools and techniques to help us reduce our stress levels.

Understanding the bigger picture regarding stress is important because it helps make sense of why it’s such a modern-day problem. For many people, it’s also a bit of a relief to know it’s not ‘them’ – that stress is a result of living in a world we’re not designed for. And when we put it in context, it makes it easier to do something about it.

 

So, to answer Zaffer’s question – what can you do to manage stress and fatigue so your health deteriorate – in summary:

 

  1. Maintain the wellbeing basics – diet/nutrition, hydration, sleep, movement, rest, daylight.
  2. Prioritise your wellbeing – this may mean working on your self-worth to put yourself first more, mastering time and energy and building better boundaries with yourself and others.
  3. Master time & energy with planning – it’s hard to keep on top of stress and prioritise your wellbeing when you’re reactive to life.
  4. Learn to pay attention to your body’s symptoms – and then act on them with points 1 and 6.
  5. Practice self-observation – so you are able to witness yourself and your thoughts. Thoughts are often one of the main causes of stress!
  6. Learn stress-reducing practices & techniques – for physical, mental and emotional health, creating a self-care toolkit.
  7. Cultivate self-compassion – people who shame themselves usually self-sabotage with unhealthy coping mechanisms.

 

Without speaking to Zaffer to understand more about his individual circumstances it’s not worth me recommending specific tools & techniques to manage his stress in this blog post.

 

But to elaborate on point number 1 above, I always suggest that people start by making sure the wellbeing basics are in a good place, as follows:

 

  1. Eating well, regularly and enough – breakfast, lunch and dinner with fresh, wholesome ingredients 80% of the time.
  2. Sleeping well – between 7.5-9 hours a night
  3. Moving enough – 8-10K steps per day, exercising 3 x a week combining cardio and strength training, mini moments of movement every day whenever possible.
  4. Hydration – aiming for 8-10 glasses of water a day.
  5. Rest – regular time out with zero pressures, evenings off, relaxation time over the weekend and extended breaks a couple of times a year minimum.
  6. Daylight – get outside for overhead light on a daily basis, ideally within 30mins of waking, at lunchtime and as the sun is going down. The morning time is the most important.

 

Getting these basics right will maintain health and reduce the chances of stress and fatigue. So, if you go back to the original question, the answer is actually the reverse – rather than managing stress and fatigue to maintain health, you maintain health to manage stress and fatigue.

 

Therefore, taking a proactive approach to stress as opposed to reactive.

 

Work with me:

Much of my work with clients involves getting the wellbeing basics to a good level with relative ease. We work on lifestyle and behavioural changes as well as using specific tools and techniques to help manage stress.

If you feel you might need a health & wellbeing overhaul to help you manage your stress and you’re interested to find out more, book a consultation here.

 

Kate