WHY OBSESSING ABOUT THE STUFF THAT DOESN’T MATTER CAN MESS YOU UP
Stress is a very huge, and important topic. Stress is important because it affects every part of your body and life. Stress impacts your perceptions, nervous system, organs, your performance in the gym and how will you recover from training (exercise).
Stress can and will come from anywhere. This could be stress from your training, it could be from your micro-managing boss, or how much homework you have. Stress can come from a fight with your spouse or the person that just cut you off in traffic.
The human body is well-equipped to handle acute stress. When a rabid dog jumps out from behind a tree and your heart pounds, your pupils dilate, and the world starts moving just a little bit slower, that’s your acute response to stress kicking in – the sympathetic / fight or flight – part of the nervous system. This response gives you the focus to deal with threats and kicks your metabolic system into high gear to give you the energy to run away or engage in a fight to the death. After the stressor has passed, things go back to normal.
On the other hand, your body is not so well-equipped for handling chronic stress. When your overbearing boss is criticizing and micro-managing you for 8 hours every day, you can’t run away at full speed or engage in a fight to the death. Well, you can, but both responses are generally frowned upon. This chronic stress can affect your body in profound negative aways.
Stress is what signals your body that it needs to adapt to something. Your body sees something as a threat, the stress response kicks into high gear, and it causes adaptations that leave your body better equipped for handling that stress in the future. As previously mentioned, that’s what is happening when you training the gym. Lifting weights is an acute stressor. Your body senses the tensions as a threat to the integrity of your muscles, ligaments, and bones, so it adapts by making these structures stronger and bigger.
However, in a situation of chronic stress, your body’s ability to appropriately adapt to a stressor is compromised. In this instance, you stress your muscles in the gym, but they can’t heal and grow as well as they’d otherwise be able to do. It’s not just what you do in the gym, how well you eat, and how much sleep you get that determines how well you adapt to training and how recovered you’ll be for your next training session (although those things certainly matter). Chronic stress from every other realm of your life matters as well!
Health problems related to chronic stress include, but are not limited to: heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, gastrointestinal health, accelerating aging, and premature death.
In a recent study in which participants did 6 sets of leg press to failure – the group with low stress was recovered an back to full strength two days later. The group with high stress took four days – twice as long – to recover and was sorer and more fatigued in the days following the same workout.
Minimizing stress in your life and finding productive avenues for venting stress is crucial for long-term health and progress in the gym. The below strategies will help you do just that.
7 Tips To Help You MANAGE STRESS
- If at all possible, avoid stressful situations
- Minimize your time on social media, or wasting time in general (TV..)
- Practice some form of mediation first thing in the morning. Start small like 1-2 minutes and build up to 10-15 minutes and watch your world change. I personally like One Moment Meditation – which is simple, guided meditation, a great place to start.
- When you feel yourself start to get stressed out, close your eyes (unless driving), take 5-10 deep breaths from the stomach (in through noes – diaphragmatic breathing), hold for 5 and exhale for 5-6 seconds
- Spend more time with your family and friends or engage in rewarding hobbies
- Don’t dwell on past mistakes and failure
- Get organized
Click here for more stress management techniques.
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Yours in strength,