The hidden link between fear and fatigue

Courage is connected to your energy reserves.

Just think about that for a second. Courage is connected to your energy reserves. Now ask yourself this. When something new shows up, what’s your first thought? A new org structure, a new software system, an invitation to cross-country ski for the first time? What’s your first reaction?

Does your body tighten, recoil, or slump? Or can you breathe in deep and reach out to grab that new thing? Before you think rationally, your body will react physically. Try to notice that reaction. It offers vital information about your capacity and it’s something to watch for in the people around you too.

Chronic stress makes your body fear anything uncomfortable. 

This is something I really want leaders to hear. If you’ve noticed recently that new things make you flinch, don’t beat yourself up and don’t accept that reaction as your new normal. See it for what it is. Your body is waving a flag. You’re tired!

If you’re constantly on, and constantly drained, you aren’t looking for new. And at a certain point, the idea of doing something new — even if it’s something you could otherwise get behind — is instantly tiring.

Rest is a reset button. Your body needs you to push the button regularly or it will push it for you.

And trust me, your brain has more tools at its disposal to help you rest than your body does. Your brain can adjust your sleep schedule, sign you up for restorative yoga, book weekend retreats, set “do not disturb” on your instant message service, or just take five minutes to enjoy looking out the window.

Your body’s reactions to rest-deprivation are crude. When your body stops trusting that you will ever rest, it protects itself any way it can. It might send fear responses, it might make you panic or freeze, it might shut down systems — like your immune system. All crude, but effective — sort of.

We all know people who regularly work until they crash and end up in bed for a week. They’ve trained their body that it needs to make them sick to get a rest.

A fear response to chronic stress isn’t visible, it isn’t something people talk about, and it’s especially important for leaders to be aware of.

You need courage to do your job. That means you need energy. If this is something you or someone on your team is struggling with reach out, it’s important and it’s something I coach people to overcome. I’m here to help.

Honouring your shutoff switch helps your body hunger for more.

Call it a shutoff switch, a reset button, downtime, me-time — call it whatever you want —  just make rest a habit.

I just turned 56. Work is busier than ever. I’m travelling a lot and if you know anything about me, you know that I am 100% committed to bringing all my passion, courage and superpowers when I work with people. How? I honour my shut off switch in between.

Think about the way muscle is built or stretches deepen. You cycle your body through a period of applying incremental new stress, followed by recovery. Stress. Recovery. Repeat.

The magic is in building a relationship with your body to push it and rest it, building trust and deepening the conversation about what you can do and where you will take each other next.

When you take regular breaks and prioritize rest, you have a conversation with your body that says, “I’m going to take care of you.” Your muscles, immune system, overall health and mobility trust they are getting loved and appreciated, and they reward you with energy, which you can convert into courage, strength, conviction and ultimately leadership.

In a gym or a yoga class, you would probably work with a professional trainer to push yourself beyond your current limits (or you should anyway.) At work, you probably don’t have anyone cheering you on to rest, but I will. I help people do the hard or uncomfortable things they aren’t doing on their own and you wouldn’t believe how many people need coaching to rest and build their umph back. Or maybe you would? 😉

This article was originally published in Chris Obst’s monthly e-newsletter. Sign up now.

Category: All, Energy at work, Energy for life, Fatigue and Rest, Homepage, Manage your Energy, Stress

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