Monday we talked about the different kinds of stress we encounter. We talked about how some stress can be good for us but some can be very detrimental to our health and well being. The kinds of stress that we can see and feel such as dietary or environmental tend to be easier to address than the things that go on in your head. If you feel generally un-stressed and feel like you sleep pretty well and wake rested as the sun comes up, maybe you don’t have any stress related cortisol issues. I know there was a time in my life when this was normal for me.
If you feel that you have dietary or environmental stresses, we can help you identify those and deal with them. If there are other things going on then it is time for some internal quit time and meditation. Below are some tips to get started and help yourself relieve some of that nagging stress:
- Talk or write about what is stressing you out. Only do this if you can distance yourself from it and NOT get more stressed out.
- Practice some deep breathing. Not the kind you do after a 500m row but more like trying to breathe into your consciousness. Try to shed all thoughts except the focus of your breathing in and out. In through the nose and out through the mouth in long deep exhales.
- Pick up a hobby that makes you happy. Meggie loves to cook, I love to read. Sorry, watching TV does not count as a hobby. Spend 30 minutes a day with this hobby in a way that is very relaxing.
- Learn about Progressive relaxation. Basically you tense and relax your muscles in a pattern to facilitate physiologic relaxation and will help your mind to relax as well.
- Go for a walk and enjoy your surroundings. Enjoy the life and energy around you and realize that the universe wants you to thrive.
- Practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong. These are two ancient chinese movement patterns that foster stress relief along with building chi (or energy) within the body. Think of it as working In, instead of working out.
- Commune with friends. Have fun with your friends. Laugh and have a good time. Laughter is the best way to get your cortisol to drop.
Some ways that will cause more stress but are commonly disguised as stress relievers:
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin and does not contribute to the actual release of stress. Alternatively it can actually add to your bodies stress. More on this later but bottom line, alcohol is no bueno (spanish for not good) except on occasions.
- Exercise: Exercise, especially the kind we do, will raise cortisol levels. While for most it is only temporary (this may be why you can’t sleep if you train too late, i know if i do anything after 6pm i am up all night) for those with high cortisol levels it only makes them higher. Certain kinds of exercise are worse than others. For example long duration low intensity exercise can put lots of stress on the body for a long period of time. Basically if you want exercise to be a stress relief it needs to be relaxing like light yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or slow walks.
- watching TV. While it can help you to shift your mind from work to home, its stimulation can keep you from sleeping. its good to have at least 30 minutes of quite time with low lights before you try to go to sleep.
Tinker with these techniques as everyone needs something a little different, after all, we are all different people. If you have questions or want to chat about these techniques, please do not hesitate to bring it up at the gym.
Clean Deadlift x5
100m suitcase carry