Yesterday we discussed the MANY damaging effects that stress can have on our bodies. Today, we are going to talk about what we can do about it!
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln.
Stress is a formidable enemy, but only if you see it as an unmoving mass you have to hurl off your shoulders. Perhaps the best way to destroy stress is by acknowledging it, shaking its hand, and taking it out to coffee to chat about how you two are going to get along most amicably. How do you do that? Here are some great tips to get you started.
As mentioned in Part 1, stress impacts motivation. So, step one in stress relief is: DO NOT SKIP THE WORKOUT. Exercise itself is a powerful tool for combating stress. However, as also mentioned in Part 1, there are some dangers to exercising while under a load of stress. So, 1. do whatever it takes to get yourself to the gym, but 2. make adjustments to your intensity and allow more time for recovery between sessions. Be mindful of what you’re doing (take your time) so that you don’t injure yourself.
The rest of the steps are very individualized – what works for stress relief for one person may not work for another. So give these a try and figure out what works best for you:
2. Learn how to say “no” and delegate
3. Adjust your expectations
4. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
5. Avoid stressful people and situations
6. Be flexible and willing to compromise
7. Pick your battles carefully
8. Focus on the positive (Bright Spots everyday?): Studies show that optimists tend to have a more positive reaction to stressful situations. They recognize the elevated cortisol levels as a ‘get up and go hormone’ and try to channel its power for good.
9. Nurture Yourself
10. Laugh at yourself
11. Ask for help when you need it
12. Have a good cry
13. Spend time in nature
14. Manage your time better
18. Mindfulness: Being mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that practicing mindfulness training can decrease stress and bring you back into the moment, instead of where you were, tumbling with your inner stress demons.
19. Compartmentalize your life. Home is home. Work is work. The gym is the gym. Keep them separate. Learn to switch gears depending on where you are. Avoid bringing your work home, keep your mobile phone in your gym locker, and if you find you are stressing over macros at home, simplify it (switch to a Paleo type plan that doesn’t make you count).
20. Sleep. You need 7-8 hours of sleep in order to better regulate cortisol levels and manage stress. This can usually happen if you go back to #14 and manage your time better.
Ok, so now your know your enemy. You know the importance of controlling it, and now you have some strategies to use to overcome it. Start today. Get a planner. Write down your bright spots. Write down your goals. Write down your bedtime. Write down your workout time. Stick with it. You will see changes – physically, mentally, and emotionally…because stress impacts them all.