Tips to manage stress
Stress is a term that is often mentioned in a kind of throw away manner. People often use the term without really putting it in context.
Stress can come from different sources, we usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a difficult relationship.
However, anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful. This includes training, not getting enough sleep or not paying enough attention to our diet.
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Of course, not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be internal or self-generated, when you worry excessively about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational, pessimistic thoughts about life.
This article will provide an overview on stress and ways to manage it to improve your health and performance.
What is stress?
Stress affects our body function, our adrenal glands produce cortisol in the face of stress. First, the part of the brain called the amygdala has to recognise a threat. It then sends a message to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH).
CRH then tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
In survival mode, the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure while regulating other functions such as reproductive drive, immunity, digestion and cell growth.
However, too much cortisol could create problems if not addressed like suppressing the immune system, increasing blood pressure/sugar, produce acne, increase fatigue, negatively impact digestive/endocrine/cognitive function, contribute to weight gain and water retention, etc.
CrossFit and stress
This is where CrossFit can compound the issue of too much stress. We see it all the time with clients training 7+ hours a week whilst having a full time job, family and social life. The “pressure” to constantly improve or work on areas of your training can add up.
Chuck in the times that we train - 5.30am or late evening - this can again cause more stress to the body.
Trying to get to the top of leaderboard everyday is a STRESS! If a movement you do not like comes up in a workout, you get stressed! Think about all these little things and how much it can impact your health.
Now CrossFit can also be a good thing and reduce stress. For those who have high pressured jobs the release gained from switching off for an hour and exercising is very beneficial.
If you are up late and night planning your strategy for tomorrows WOD then you may need to look at taking a step back!
Check out the image below of the stress cup. See, you only have certain amount of resilience to stress and things can compound to produce too much stress.
What we want to do is manage the stress cup and ensure it doesn’t overflow.
By improving all aspects…even by a little bit, we can manage stress and start finding balance.
Stress is like goldilocks porridge. We need it to be just right. Too much stress is not good, but too little and you will not make progress or adapt.
Below is our stress 101 infographic. Click through to read the content and download the PDF below.
Stress doesn't have to rule your life.
Please take the time to look at the signs of stress and see if any resonate with you.
Start by taking action and addressing managing it head on.
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