Fatigue vs Stress – How a Close Encounter With a Snake Made Me Choose Fatigue!

Fatigue vs Stress. If you were faced with either of these scenarios, which one would you prefer to endure?

Now as a shift worker who has had to battle with fatigue for many years, I would haven chosen the latter. But after a midnight hunt for my cat, which lead to a close encounter with a snake – I think I’d rather be fatigued.

You see, last night our cat ‘Misty’ stayed outside a little later than usual. In fact it was fast approaching midnight and she still had not come inside for her dinner. Now I’m not one to get too worried because she always does comes inside – eventually. But last night was a little different. She didn’t come in when we called her, and about 1/2 hour later we heard an almighty cat fight.

After rushing outside to see what all the commotion was about – there were no sign of any cats – nor any balls of fluff.
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And over the next few hours I proceeded to head out into the garden, getting down on my hands and knees under the bushes, in search of Misty. As time marched on and the clock neared 1am, my eyes were getting heavy, my brain fuzzy and my body ached from tiredness. And even though I was feeling incredibly fatigued, I soldiered on in my search.
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So with my trusty torch in hand, I continued to call her by name in the hope that she would come inside.

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What I wasn’t expecting however, was a close encounter with a different type of animal – a 2 metre long snake that didn’t look particularly happy to see me either.
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So after my stress hormones kicked in (aka ‘adrenaline’), which caused my heart to beat faster, my blood pressure to rise, and my muscles to tense up – my body became paralyzed from fear!
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You see stress is linked to our most basic human response – to ‘flight’ or ‘fight’. This instinct actually goes back millions of years when our ‘hunter and gatherer’ ancestors were faced with physically threatening situations.
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Even though this snake appeared “perfectly harmless” – I certainly didn’t want to hang around to find out.
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So as I carefully and slowly retreated backwards away from the snake, I turned and ran back onto the front deck and into the ‘safety’ of my house. Fortunately in that same moment, Misty decided it was time to come home and she too, suddenly appeared on the front steps.
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So where am I going with this story?
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Well as you would already know, just working shift work is stressful because getting up in the dark is certainly not normal for any human being.
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But it’s important to realise that stress in general, is in fact a normal part of life. It’s only when you are exposed to too much stress, for extended periods of time, that your health will begin to suffer.
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(So fortunately for me, my encounter with a snake was somewhat brief so I shouldn’t suffer from any permanent damage …)
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And the good news is that stress itself, can actually be managed. While we can’t always control the causes of our stress, we can certainly be responsible for how we deal with them.
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A few tips to help you deal with stress include:
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1. Remembering to breathe! When we get stressed we tend to forget to breathe properly, and instead take fast, shallow breaths which makes our heart beat faster and oxygen levels fall. To combat this, take three deep breathes and then carry on.
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2. Just saying the word ‘calm’ – over and over in your head when you’re feeling stressed, can acually help you to feel calm.
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3. Take more exercise – Exercise releases the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins, which gives you a wonderful high and alleviates pent-up frustration and anxiety. Just 20 minutes three times a week will not only keep you fit, but stop you feeling tired and stressed out.
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4. Get more organised – One of the main causes of stress is disorganisation. Sort your life out and you will begin to notice your stress levels drop dramatically.
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So the next time you’re faced with a stressful situation – whether it’s a disgruntled customer, a fast approaching deadline, or just knowing that you have to get up at 3am to go to work the next day – just stay calm and you will be able to cope with whatever is thrown your way!
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P.S – Oh, and keep any eye out for those snakes!

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7 thoughts on “Fatigue vs Stress – How a Close Encounter With a Snake Made Me Choose Fatigue!

  1. This is a good write-up, I was wondering if I could use this write-up on my website, I will link it back to your website though. If this is a problem please let me know and I will take it down right away.