Stress challenge day 5: Take care of yourself

Today was a really interesting chapter, and it all centred around the whole “body is a temple” type of thing. It was interesting how they compared the effort that people go to with maintenance on cars, pets etc but never really give ourselves the same treatment. No, I don’t mean like shaving your legs (although ladies – seriously, if they’re more than stubble then I recommend you give it some attention stat). More like had a medical check up, a good night sleep, gym etc.

Think about it – if you don’t maintain your car then when they eventually break down you have a much bigger and costly problem.

On that note, let’s check in on how I’m doing.

Stress level (rating of 1-10; 10 being worst)? 4-5
Notes: One of the ladies that I work with today mentioned that I seemed more “zen”, which was really interesting and pleasing to hear. My workload at work is still unrelenting, and there are always some spot fires that need putting out, but I think I’ve embraced the whole “don’t stress over what you have no control over”. I’m trying to focus on priorities and setting expectations, and communicating what I can and can’t do. I’m getting a little bit better at leaving it at the door. I had a situation where normally I would be stressed and ropeable, and I think I managed myself pretty well in the circumstances. Something else happened after I left the office today which makes me a bit nervous about tomorrow, but I feel calm and able to think logically. I’m still waiting for the big test though.

Getting back to the challenge, the aim was to spend a bit of time looking after myself. Not just de-stressing, not just having a bath or a glass of wine, but something that is genuinely good for my long-term health.

Since my first attempt in reading this book, my sleep is actually something I’ve been very conscious of. I’ve successfully implemented a rule with my fiancé where once the clock hits 9pm we start to pack up and head to bed. At my most stressed recently there were a few nights where I let that slip, and had Mario not been his beautiful hard-assed self, I probably would have pushed myself way too hard and barely slept.

It’s been something that I’m thrilled that we’ve stuck with, even if some nights I’ve had to be bossed around, and most nights I’m in bed pretty early. Of course there will be the exception here and there based on various different events, but in general we have early nights. I shudder to think where my stress levels would be without that.

(Side note – Mario would like everyone to know that he doesn’t believe that he’s hard-assed, and that he thinks that I have the upper hand in everything. Of course, I completely disagree, but opposites attract right?)

I’ve been using an app to track my sleep (called Sleep Cycle) and given my obsession with stats, I’m in love with it. It plays white noise when I’m drifting off to sleep, and the alarm is designed to go off when my movements indicate that I’m at a lighter sleep level so it can wake me easily (rather than being jolted awake). Some interesting things I’ve observed:

  • My average sleep per night is 7h 34mins – pretty healthy!
  • Oddly, my biggest increase in sleep quality is when I’m injured. I’m probably not moving much if I’m propped up (or suffering depression/stress because I’m without my biggest stress outlet – more on that later)
  • My biggest decrease in sleep quality is stressful days (no surprises there)
  • I sleep badly at home compared to other places; this totally helps my argument that we need a new mattress
  • Wednesday by far is my worst night sleep out of any night of the week. It’s not even close

Sleep quality indicators Sleep quality by night

I’ve also discovered that if I get out for a run in the morning, my stress levels are immediately lower. With the running training that I’ve been doing (and plan to write about once I have some more statistics showing that my fitness increase), I’m loving running again. I’m running consistently for 30mins plus without feeling like I’m dying, and I’m at a pace where I can tune out, forget that I’m running and just feel calm. I think clearly, I brainstorm things, and I have complete clarity.

Prior to my burn out, I had two successive injuries to my foot (same one) that kept me from exercising. First was a strained achilles that was painful to even walk, and after forcing myself to rest for a few weeks I was finally ready to go again. Only a few days later I then cut open my heel in an accident where I dropped a glass water bottle and bounced back to bite me. Without being able to exercise, my stress just built and built.

I knew in the past that I had enjoyed going out running, but now I know I need to run.

For my fitness, for my health, but most importantly, for my happiness.

This post is part of my 21-Day Stress challenge; for more information please see my background post here.