I didn’t realise I was stressed. Stress seemed like the image of someone pulling their hair out and not being able to manage the demands from life. Yet I feel like (at least on paper and in my mind) I am managing it. Some days, crushing it!
I’ve always been ambitious and hard working, but I’ve never experienced anything like the courage and energy these last few years have required. Couple the physical and mental demands, with the pressure I pile on myself, and it was going to be a risky game!
I’ve made huge sacrifices and invested everything to get to where I am today; I gave what I feel it takes to build something from nothing. What I realise now is that I’ve been drawing from my internal bank of energy reserves without enough focus on restoring them.
My body has been sending me signs that the pressure I put on myself is not sustainable, which I wrote about in my latest blog ‘My Struggle with Body Confidence’.
Today’s blog is all about the steps I’ve taken to manage stress and make lifestyle changes in the pursuit of improved health and wellbeing!
1. Reduce self-pressure
From the start of my journey with Challenge Sophie 10 years ago, I loved how adventure helped me develop the tools I feel are the foundation for life; courage, motivation, resilience and self-belief. I take what I learn through adventure and apply it to my life, helping me develop a mindset which enabled me to achieve things I never dreamed could be possible! Over the years, I developed a 'no-limits' mindset; The more I achieve, the more I dare myself to dream bigger. The more I take risks, the stronger my courage becomes. The more I do things that scare me or seem too hard, the more I learn how to harness self-belief.
Whilst this has been an amazing journey, helping me learn and discover rich and valuable lessons, the pressure I put on myself with this limitlesss mindset can be over bearing at times.
Top Tip: Know that you are enough just as you are, with whatever you can give. If the world doesn't place limits on us, we have to define our own
2. Schedule time off
After a super hectic first half of 2017, a period of four weeks opened up in my diary with no work; no branded campaigns, travel or talks, nothing. Everything felt like it was in a really good place (and it’s August which is a quiet time of year), so I decided to make the most of it and jumped on a plane to Hawaii. I went to stay with my cousin on the magical island of Maui - one of the best decisions I ever made! I reset all my limits, had the chance to rest and relax properly, get my health back on track and live my days without any pressure (what a treat!) Now back in London, I am making an effort to schedule regular time off and not to book things in back to back without adequate rest.
Top Tip: Rest and recover is just as important as work and activity! Nothing works if you don’t
3. Dietary Changes
Whilst in Hawaii I started mixing up my dietary choices and something interesting happened! I found myself eating 80% vegetarian/vegan and felt it really helped with my overall health and digestive system. Intriguing for me because I have always loved meat, but this has felt good to reduce my intake of meat. Nutrition has such a huge impact on energy so I’m super interested to see how this goes. I am also very conscious of the impact my dietary, travel and consumer choices have on the environment. I want to make a positive impact and this is a step in the right direction!
Top Tip: Listen to your body before it’s too late. They are great at sending us signs that something is wrong, we aren’t always great at listening to them.
4. Find Expert help
Whenever something isn’t working or I’m feeling stuck, I look for expert help and guidance. I found Dan Roberts, PT and coach, who I immediately felt I was able to confide it. The first step towards change is understanding and accepting the current situation. Dan helped me accept that my body has been in fight or flight mode for so long that many of the things I consider to be normal (like flying, change in climate, intense exercise and reduced sleep) trigger a stress response in my body.
Working with Dan has been making a huge difference. Just having someone there who can help me piece this all together and make a plan for change is so reassuring. Dan helps me take steps to work on training, nutrition, sleep and managing stress.
Top Tip: Reach out and ask for help. It’s important to feel supported and have the right team of people around you whether that’s friends, family or professional help
5. Mix up your training
I spent Feb and March living in Scotland, hiking and running in the mountains rather, than doing intensive gym work and hefty endurance challenges for exercise. This gave my body a chance to reset. Immediately my muscle mass started to reduce and I felt my body adjusting to it’s natural form. Training with Dan, we work on exercises that are tailored to my body shape so I’m focusing on weaker muscles and avoiding bulking out in areas I don’t need more muscle in. Dan’s sessions are a mix of martial arts, weight training, rest and coaching. I love my time with him and am so grateful for his advice and support.
Top Tip: If it’s not working, there is often a reason why. Be open-minded and try new things, don’t be afraid to change
I feel like I’m going through a monumental internal shift at the moment (more to come on the blog about this as it goes deeper than what I'm writing about here!) I'm learning so much and I always love hearing your stories and pearls of wisdom from your journey, keep sharing them with me!
Love, Sophie x