Thursday, 2 June 2016


Welcome to the website accompanying my book Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church - without burning out.

What this site is about is a whole host of extra resources which I have put together to help you think more, chat more and hopefully understand more about some of the topics Ive raised in the book. Youll find a whole host of things here - articles, videos, book recommendations - some serious, some more light hearted but all expanding the topics raised in the individual chapters of the book.

The material is organised by chapter, so once youve read each one, you can look at what extra things there are that might interest you, open up themes in more depth or answer questions you might have in your mind.

Of course, you can use these resources just for yourself, or they might be something you can chat about with others who have read the book. But I hope that these additional things will help you should you be looking to work through the book as part of a small group. Here youll find funny videos you can use to kick off a session, more in depth material should you want to take a topic deeper, and illustrations or ideas you can use with the whole group.

Bear in mind that this site isnt static - Ill be adding things as I come across them. Its also a useful space where I can let you know about events and conferences which might interest you - things I am speaking at or events from some of the organisations I work with. Ill also post links to articles and things I have written elsewhere on the web. If you want to be notified when there is something new to read here, sign up to receive the newsletter.

Thanks for reading! Kate 

Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church - without burning out by Kate Middleton is available in paperback, priced £9.99.

1 - I’m stressed, get me out of here!

We all know issues with stress are common - but just how common are they? Here are some stats to give you a clearer idea:

1 in 3 adults feel stressed every day
1 in 5 adults often feel stressed at work
14% adults say stress at work is making them ill
half of all adults say stress keeps them awake at night
30% adults say their stress levels have increased in the last year
131 million work days were lost in 2011 due to stress

Although we talk about it as though it is an emotional thing, we all know that stress has a physical effect on us. Here’s a great video which takes advantage of this for an ad campaign in Germany:

Think you know about stress? Here’s a quick true false analysis of commonly held perceptions about stress, along with some extra links for more to read about the way stress affects us all:

You cannot avoid stress
TRUE - Stress is an inevitable part of human life but we can learn how to moderate our responses so that it becomes less of a problem. Here’s what mental health charity Mind have to say about stress.

Some people can manage high levels of stress without it affecting them
FALSE - it may seem this way, but if someone is experiencing a lot of stress even if it doesnt affect them in the SHORT TERM it is likely to have an impact on their LONG TERM HEALTH. Short term impact is often about psychological effects like anxiety and depression (Check out this 2014 report about the impact of work place stress on these things) - whereas long term impact may well be on physical health (for example, this study looks at the well established link between chronic stress and type two diabetes). However, we mustn’t forget that the psychological impact of stress could be more than a short term thing - there is some evidence to suggest that long term stress could actually change parts of your brain making you more prone to anxiety and other emotional disorders in later life. 

Stress can make you perform better on a task
TRUE AND FALSE! - Lower levels of stress improve our concentration and performance. However once our stress levels get too high it all starts to deteriorate. Check out - here Andrew Bernstein (author of ‘The myth of stress’) explains that what is actually motivating us when we are stressed might be other elements of the situation, not the stress itself.

With the right attitude and training you need never feel stressed again
I WISH! This is FALSE! Some situations or jobs in particular carry inevitably high levels of stress. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Check out how some people in those kinds of jobs deal with the stress they cannot avoid experiencing.

A glass of wine is a great way to relax and wind down after a stressful day
TRUE AND FALSE! Alcohol helps us to relax in the short term, but (as shown in this 2008 study) regular alcohol use can actually RAISE the level of some stress hormones, as well as interfering with sleep patterns and making you more tired. Not only that but it can have an unfortunate effect on your emotions, magnifying negative emotions and making you feel MORE low, rather than less. Not one to rely on as an everyday solution!

People react to stress in different ways
TRUE - No two people are the same and what stresses one person out may barely affect another person. This is not a sign of weakness however - if you find yourself getting stressed more than other people you know do not despair. Understanding the way you think and respond to the world can help you learn how to filter stress better so it affects you less.

Sometimes things can be stressful without you realising it
TRUE - some stresses (particularly the emotional ones) are obvious. However sometimes things can be very biologically stressful without you realising it because they place a big demand on your brain and/or body. We need to be aware of what we are asking of ourselves and make sure that we build in real down time to balance things out. Some of the personality types that appear to manage stress the best can be experiencing long term effects without realising it - check out examples on the press - Duncan Bannatyne and Andrew Marr. Another person’s experience of stress means that he refers to it as a ‘silent killer’ - read about it here.

Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church - without burning out by Kate Middleton is available in paperback, priced £9.99. 

2 - All about stress

Feeling stressed out? One thing we know about stress is that it makes things a lot harder - more and more as you reach your personal crisis point. The game show ‘The Cube’ relies on this fact - asking people to perform tasks or challenges that otherwise might be relatively easy, but making them much more challenging by deliberately engineering the situation to put them under as much stress as possible. Check out this example to see how it works - notice how Phillip Schofield (the presenter) ranks up the stress with the things he says as the contestant is getting ready!

Interested in doing some further reading on the physical/physiological impact of stress? For an excellent, fascinating and easy to read book offering an in depth look at just why stress affects is the way it does, get hold of ‘Why Zebras don’t get ulcers’ by Robert M Sapolsky -
You can also check out some articles by Robert Sapolsky - inc this one on the physiology of stress or listen to the man himself talking about why humans experience so much more stress than other animals.

Ever been hit by unexpected stress? For a great example of an unexpected stress wave (and one of my all time favourite video clips!) check out this vintage clip (featuring a very young Terry Wogan!) and what happens to this news reader just as he is about to go live to camera … 

Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church - without burning out by Kate Middleton is available in paperback, priced £9.99. 

3 - Are you a stresshead?

Think that your perspective doesn’t influence your understanding and experience of stress? Watch this series of adverts (from American mortgage company Ameriquest)  and think again!

Ever experienced emotional hijack? Here’s a classic example of someone who has … for more about emotional hijack read this from Psychology today website..

Want to find out more about your own personality and how that might affect your experience of stress? These aren’t the real tests of personality psychologists would use - but to get a quick idea of how you might see and interact with the world try these: …

4 - Is your passion stressing you out?

Passion can be stressful - but it is also powerful - something we look for in others that influences how likely we are to be convinced by their argument. Check out this clever study looking at how one small change in how someone gave a speech changed the way they were able to influence an audience.

Passion and frustration can be tools which God uses to help us meet our potential. For more about what God has to say about our potential check out this blog I wrote on the subject.

Meanwhile guilt is a fascinating emotion - and one that many people have written about. Guilt is powerful and manipulative (heres a great explanation of why, including how it can be such a powerful driver of what psychologists call avoidant behaviour) and has the power to make us push ourselves very hard (guilt is the emotion which drives us to work the hardest - which is why it can lead to an increased risk of stress and burnout).  In fact guilt has even been demonstrated to affect your immune system.

So is guilt always a bad thing? Are you feeling guilty about a heap of things you havent got round to doing yet today? Heres a more positive perspective on guilt, based on the function it was originally designed to have, from the Guardians change your life column - How to make the most of your guilt - learn how planning a guilt hour might make you a whole lot more productive.

Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church - without burning out by Kate Middleton is available in paperback, priced £9.99.