Stress: Learning to recharge not just endure

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.”

Stephen R. Covey

If there is one thing that everyone in modern society deals will on some level (even children now) is stress.

Stress has a more powerful effect than we realise, and learning to undo some of the effect and hopefully prevent even greater levels of stress can be so beneficial.

If you’re of working age then there’s no doubt you have responsibilities. Not only to your self, but now to your company/business, perhaps your partner and children. Chances are you are either a homeowner or if you live in London pay a large rent bill/mortgage each month.

The commute may be stressful, the pace of life fast, money may be tight, it may not be, perhaps time is short instead, pressure from above is grinding you down or the responsibility of running a company or managing people takes it toll.

If you add the cumulative stress of poor nutrition, lack of sleep, movement dysfunction, high exercise load (intensity), poor movement habits, drinking, relationship worries and pressures of having a family it’s not surprising many peoples health suffers. How this manifests will be individual.

For some, they get depressed, others may develop a headache or stomach issue. Some individuals lose relationships or have relationships that no longer function like they used to or sex lives that grind to a halt. Perhaps, a knock on effect is that you have lower performance at work or you struggle to focus. Sleep will naturally be affected and your ability to recover compromised. Some people develop ulcers, have strokes, heart attacks or panic attacks. Other’s just feel deeply unfulfilled, or feel numb.

What’s the answer: you decide to exercise but you go at it too hard and 3 weeks later something breaks, tears or sprains. Maybe you just feel drained, depressed and finally retreat within having lost the battle. The inch’s on the waist remain and stress continues unabated

“What we think, we become.”

Buddha

This is the perpetual rollacoster of modern life, often there seems to be no stop to get off.

We’ve yet to invent magic pill to deal with stress (doctors may prescribe but pills don’t pay the bills! - note they can be hugely powerful if used correctly), it will happen and some pressures in life will never disappear.

What you can do is put in place as many positive habits and empowering activities that will provide you with more resources to deal with stress when it happens.

I’m no different to anyone else, I experience stress and deal with it for better or worse. Don’t let any heath professional fool you into thinking they’ve solved everything! I do think about these things, mainly because they are often the limiting factor in performance for me, and clients. I’m very interested in strategies that navigate issues of stress.

It would take a huge overhaul that would be a stress in itself to suddenly rid yourself of stress. That is fantasy, so alternatively I would like to suggest is a method of reflecting on what stresses you can address and minimise.

Good habits can replace the need for ‘willpower’ and allow you to recentre when you get off track.

Say you’ve had a stressful week of relationships problems or work has lumped a tonne of extra work at the last minute. It could be that you are handling a major account or have the end of the tax year to deal with!

Let’s start by categorising stress: which I do find helpful, providing clarity on what to work on and how to approach it.

  • Physical - lack of exercise (or too much), virus, infection, injury, mechanical issue, heart problems, Sleep. arthritis etc
  • Mental - money worries, relationship, depression, family, work, illness etc
  • Chemical - medication, food choices, smoking, air quality, beauty products (!)

These lists are by no means exhaustive but the examples give an indication of what could full under these categories.

Write down some stresses that effect you?

Next it’s about choosing what is important to you, what is affecting you greatly and what you can realistically solve.

  • Chemical: Nutrition is an easy one, for me at least. We can look to plan our meals as a start, starting with breakfast. week one prepare and plan breakfast, eat breakfast every day. Week two plan and prepare lunches… simple but effective. Planning only needs to be 15 mins at the weekend. Read this article to start this.
  • Physical - too much exercise or the wrong sort. Seek guidance from a professional who can tailor a plan to meet your goals and focus on building strength’s and addressing your weaknesses. This will remove the need for ‘willpower’ as a PT provides accountability and structure.
  • Mental: Work - set boundaries, this could mean making a commitment to say ‘No!’ once a week or only checking emails after 8.30am or before 7.30pm. Start with this rule twice a week and build from there. Turn it into a habit.

Stress is overwhelming at times, it looms as a amorphous mass, defined only by its effect. Getting a handle on what stresses you are experiencing and what is reasonable to try and solve is powerful. Turning stress in to manageable chunks that can be bitten off and solved a piece at a time is the only sustainable way of doing it, in my mind.

You get good at what you do a lot of. So set yourself up for many small wins.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo



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