Identify your stress loads

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Chronic fatigue can be caused and perpetuated by carrying multiple stress loads over time. This combination eventually overloads our system and we get stuck in a state of chronic stress.

The short illness that triggered my initial crash was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it wasn’t the real cause.

To find the causes and get back into a healing state, we need to identify the stress loads we are carrying. From there, we can figure out what action to take to get our overall life in balance.

Our stress loads can include:

  • Physical: health, nutrition, illness, fitness, genetic conditions
  • Emotional: work, relationships, family, friends, children, other dependents, money, trauma
  • Psychological: anxiety, depression, triggers
  • External events: natural catastrophes, loss, daily life

I’d strongly recommend writing yours down, for every area of your life, to build up an accurate picture of your own stress loads.

At this stage, don’t make judgements on each load; just identify them.

All responsibilities and pressures are loads. Many are positive, such as friends and family. Some can be sources of both stress and joy: children, or that trapeze skills workshop you signed up to…! Make sure to identify all of these. We don’t want to get rid of them, just understand our overall picture so we have choice over how we rebalance our system.

One big and often hidden load is unprocessed emotion. This could be from a range of past events and traumas, big and small, or from daily life.

I had regular anxiety and panic, and I dealt with this by getting angry and ashamed at myself. I tried to disassociate as much as possible, which led to loss of trust in my own body. This meant that I wasn’t acknowledging and feeling the emotions of these ongoing traumatic events, and my responses were unintentionally adding more emotional load.

These emotions didn’t go away, they just stayed inside me like undigested food, adding to my overall stress load and ultimately contributing to my crash.

It’s worth taking the time to identify your own unprocessed emotional loads. Are there things that you avoid feeling, that scare, shame, anger or trigger you? If so, that’s a sign of a big load you’re carrying. You don’t have to deal with them right now, or ever. But if you can simply identify them, you’ve made a huge step towards acknowledging where you are right now.

Writing it down helps you realise that you’re carrying a lot and almost certainly have been for quite some time.

No wonder your system is overloaded. Far from being weak, you’ve likely been carrying way to much for far too long.

Identifying your stress loads is a huge foundational step. By understanding what’s really going on for you, you bring back control and choice over your life.