photo: Ben White / unsplash
Believe it or not, stress is one of the most important factors determining not only the results of our training and diet, but also in general - our health and quality of life.
However, many people seem to underestimate his role and ignore him without taking control. Which is a big mistake…
In this article, we will look at the reasons why excessive stress should not be ignored and some useful strategies on how to deal with it and control it successfully.
Why should stress not be underestimated?
Stress takes many forms. Some people feel it seriously, in the form of anxiety, irritation and confusion. Others only vaguely notice that the daily commute to work leaves them less energetic, and busy workdays slightly worsen their sleep quality.
And it's not just our consciousness that suffers from chronically high excessive stress. It is harmful to everything.
Studies on the subject have clearly shown that life under stress is shorter. Elevated levels of stress suppress the production of Klotho - a hormone that slows aging, prolongs life, reduces the likelihood of age-related diseases, cardiovascular disease and keeps muscles strong. It is no coincidence that it is named after one of the three moiri (the spinners of the thread of life in ancient Greek mythology).
And as for our physique and athleticism - chronic excessive stress has the following adverse side effects on the body:
- Reduced energy consumption;
- Increased appetite, especially for sweet foods;
- Impaired carbohydrate tolerance and poor nutrient distribution;
- Twice as weak power development;
- Twice as slow recovery after a workout;
- Harder to gain muscle mass;
- Increased risk of injury due to poor technique, lack of energy and concentration.
It is safe to say that chronically high stress can significantly slow down the results of following both an exercise program and a diet. Therefore, you must actively work to control and suppress it.
Here's exactly how to do it:
1. Active and passive dealing with the problem
In this article, we look at stress as a problem. And in the psychological literature, coping strategies are classified as passive (avoiding the problem) or active (working against it).
This division is not uncommon, because we humans are also passive or active, depending on our character and a number of other traits of self-awareness. Usually, as a person is, so is his strategy for dealing with obstacles.
Passive people usually avoid direct confrontation with situations and emotions outside their comfort zone. Instead, they turn to other people (relatives, friends) to find social relief from stress, or engage in various side activities that ignore the stressor or suppress thoughts about it, providing short-term relief from stress (sedatives, alcohol, watching TV, practicing a hobby, etc.).
However, postponing and ignoring the problem does not usually lead to its elimination…
So actively dealing with stress usually brings more substantial and long-term results. Active problem-solving in itself can also be divided into 2 separate approaches:
- awareness and elimination of situations that play the role of stressors;
- mastering and controlling the emotions that stressors lead to;
Both options for actively dealing with problems are better than passive dealing, but if we have to compare them against each other - awareness, and eliminating the problem at its root, is a much more effective approach than just dealing with emotions. caused by this problem.
Specific example: If you quarrel with your partner - the best approach would be to discuss things openly with each other. To solve the problem, instead of each of you sitting angrily in a corner of the room and trying to just control the emotions caused by this problem to feel temporarily better, but without looking for a solution to the problem.
Therefore, dealing with the problem (stress) immediately and at the moment is preferable, because when it becomes chronic and recurrent, the situation becomes more complicated and the solution becomes increasingly difficult and exhausting to implement.
2. Control stress, but do not avoid it completely!
However, we must clarify that stress is not a bad thing in the first place, which should be avoided completely. On the contrary - moderate, short-term stress (such as strength training, for example) can be very useful for our development.
Chronically excessive stress is what we need to avoid. As the saying goes, "Very good is not good." This maxim applies in full force here as well.
So stress should not be completely avoided, but simply controlled and taken in moderation, from time to time.
An effective way to control stress is to divide your day into phases with high and low stress. In other words, stress must have its own circadian rhythm.
# healthy and beautiful
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For most people with a normal profession, working from 8 to 5, this means dividing their day into two phases: the first (working day) will be high stress, the second (time after work at home) will be low stress. In other words - when you get home it's time to rest. And even if you have homework - turn it into fun and relaxed activities! Do not hurry! Act methodically and approach the obligations consistently, one by one! In the meantime, give yourself time to rest and relax. Read a book, take a nap, take some time for your hobby!
Freelancers (like me, for example) who work for themselves or do not have specific working hours are the ones who need to be even more careful. In these cases, it often happens that the time for work and rest merges completely and imperceptibly a person begins to overload and take on chronically elevated levels of excessive stress.
Therefore, even in these situations, it is good to set aside a strictly defined interval or duration of time for work, as well as a separate room for work at home or away from home, to be used only for this purpose.
Outside of work responsibilities, those of us who train need to break down our day into more than 2 phases of stress. We have higher stress at work, lower in our free time, but again higher during training. This is not a problem. Again, the key is control and perseverance. The previous article on stress, to which I left a link at the beginning of this point, will explain in particular what this is all about.
photo: Chase Clark / unsplash
3. Train your calmness and focus!
Calmness training (such as yoga and meditation, for example) is one of the few scientifically proven methods for effectively dealing with negative emotions caused by stress.
One such workout is Calm meditation. It means simply focusing intensely on something that doesn't evoke any emotion in you - like a chair, a vase, a flower or any other object, for a few minutes or longer - as much as you need to " restart your mind and calm down.
It sounds easy, but it's not really that simple - it requires concentration and perseverance to work in the long run. This type of meditation is easier to perform in a quiet environment devoid of stimuli, or if you do it with headphones or earplugs, as well as with your eyes closed, standing in a comfortable body position that allows you to relax.
And if you don't like this slightly more "hippie" approach - you should know that according to research, peace meditation works, but is not more effective than other methods of relaxation - such as time spent with friends, watching TV or practicing a hobby.
But at the same time - peace of mind training has additional benefits. They can make you calmer and more focused people in general. Improve your critical thinking in stressful situations and help you make better decisions.
photo: Xan Griffin / unsplash
4. Make friends with nature!
I guess this advice sounds a bit "hippie" to you, but it's actually backed up by solid scientific evidence.
Various studies show that time spent in nature significantly reduces stress, and training in nature is considered easier to perform and less exhausting.
There is even a hypothesis that cancers are less common in areas with denser vegetation.
Of course, walking in nature is great advice in theory, but it is not always a good and applicable way to deal with stress in practice (especially if we live in a big city). Fortunately, even simple things like decorating your home and office with plants can significantly reduce stress.
If you do not have the opportunity for regular hiking - more frequent walks in the park, or even just buying 2-3 potted plants, can significantly help you fight stress.
#man and nature
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5. Be flexible!
Life often does not go according to plan. Things don't always turn out the way we want. And that's how we feel stressed. Often, however, this stress is unnecessary neuroticism, and we actually have opportunities that are as good as the original plan.
We just have to give up our original plan, look at the situation soberly and consider how to get the most out of it… And imperceptibly, the stress becomes minimal or disappears completely.
So be flexible in your plans, attitudes and expectations! Always be ready to react to changing circumstances and in general - think one step forward so as not to be unpleasantly surprised! And even if things don't work out as you expected - instead of focusing on the problem - focus on how to solve it and what your options are from now on! Again - be active, not passive!
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