Stress is one of the biggest obstacles in fitness and health and it is the number one cause of workplace absenteeism all over the world. Ironically, work is the major cause of stress. The Japanese actually have a term, “karoushi”, which defines death due to workplace stress.
Stress is a normal response to what we see as “dangers”. The parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and the blood pressure goes up, the heart rate goes up, adrenaline and cortisol gets released from the adrenal glands, the liver burns its energy stores, and the body gets more oxygen and glucose. We call it “Fight or Flight”. To put it simply, the body gains more energy, focus, and efficiency.
Short term stress is beneficial for improving performance. This morning I had an hour to get ready and I did what usually takes two hours in one hour. Once I was out the door, I could relax and my normal state was returned.
Chronic mental stress is the problem; which could be from the workplace, home, or financial. These types of stresses tend to keep the stress hormones at a higher level and not let the body return to normal. The hormonal and energy stores get exhausted. Eventually the threat is there but the body is too exhausted to adjust to it. It’s kinda like holding a light object in the air; it’s really easy at first, but at some point your arm will get sore and you’ll need a rest before you can continue.
Symptoms of chronic mental stress are feeling worn out, tense, frustrated, unable to concentrate, accident prone, weight gain or weight loss, crying, antisocial behavior, loss of self esteem, resorting to substance abuse, and ultimately depression, loss of libido, suicidal or homicidal thinking. A couple of the first things you will notice in chronic stress, are trouble sleeping and elevated resting heart rate.
Rather than suppressing the feelings that come under pressure, we need to identify the stresses, express our feelings, and take proactive steps to dissipate the stress. Find a way you can talk about the stresses you are experiencing with an understanding colleague, friend, or even your boss.
what to do
The single most effective antidote to stress is physical exercise. I’m not just making that up because I’m a personal trainer :) Proper exercise takes your mind off issues and burns off your stress hormones. I recommend a sport; make it fun hey?
Attitude is a really big deal too. As Michael Hyatt recommends, write your eulogy and work towards it. If we define ourselves by what we do for a living, we add to our stress. Cultivating strong character and close relationships builds our self-image in healthier ways than redoubling job-performance. Volunteer, do random acts of kindness and be there for others.
Stress feeds on the thought that the world around us rests primarily on our shoulders. I talked to a nice person who worked in emergency communications at a government level. She made herself available 24-7 and took care of her son’s newborn. She told me how others in her position died of heart attacks and when I asked her what would happened if she continued living the way she was, she told me she would die - “karoushi”. We need to realize we are not indispensable. “Let go and let God” is a great motto.
I talked to one of my clients who told me about their stress. I asked them if they could go talk to their boss and tell them about their stress and see if they could stop doing overtime. They talked to their boss and stopped the overtime. Their stress went down significantly and 10 lbs of fat fell off their body.
Some other common methods of stress relief are; eating healthy, listening to good music, practicing yoga, meditation or tai chi, going for a walk, talking to friends about problems, playing games, and playing with kids. For some people it’s adventure and for others it’ll be relaxation. In either case, it will be things that take your mind off whatever stresses you out. If the stress is accumulated, you’ll need longer to destress.
Obviously stress is a very serious entity that needs to be looked after very carefully. You don’t want this to get away from you. Recognize it early if you're getting over stressed and take action to nip it in the bud.
I hope you liked the article. If you did, share it with friends. These are the types of issues I deal with daily with my clients in order to accomplish their fitness goals. I believe in a coach like approach and I help guide my clients to do the things they deem relevant for them and they are seeing really great results. For me the reward is the happiness it creates and seeing the new found confidence in people. WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO PERSONALLY SHOW YOU HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS ...FOR FREE?
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