Stress can delay your fitness results in a big way by interfering with your sleep, your endocrine (hormonal) system, your eating habits, and your self image. Also, it just plain doesn’t feel good! Why not try one (or all) of these five ways to take control of your stress and see how it goes?
Yes, I did say “take control” of your stress rather than “relieve” or “eliminate” it – you can’t hide from it or wish it away, and stress can find you no matter where you go or what you do, so why not put that stress to work for you?
It really is the best medicine (science!), it’s free, and you can do it anywhere. Here are some of my go-to laugh generators – share yours in the comments if you’d like!
Seriously – just put a timer on for 5 minutes (2 minutes if you’re a real doubter) and close your eyes. Breathe. Stop making lists in your head or replaying scenarios; just breathe. Even 2 minutes can make a huge difference in your day: clearer thinking, better sleep, and more balanced stress hormones.
If you refuse to meditate, pick any two stretches that you know (quads, hamstrings, shoulders, back, triceps…) and do them, slowly. And breathe.
I love my liquid Vitamin B supplement. (Science says B-vitamins really do help diminish stress.) I haven’t had a hangover in more than 5 years, but science also says that this helps with hangovers.
4. Move (preferably outside)
You don’t have to start training for a half marathon – just a 5 or 10 minute walk (preferably outside) can reset your stress response (science!). More is more, to a point, so try to make regular movement a part of your life. You might even want to join us for Zumba if you’re in the Houston area – it’s a proven happiness booster!
5. Confront what’s stressing you out – eat the elephant
It’s the last recommendation because it’s the hardest, but if you confront the stressor it might just disappear (like the bully it is). Feeling worried about a deadline? Confront it! Eat the elephant one bite at a time, so to speak, and take your first step toward meeting that deadline. Hating traffic? Remember that it’s temporary, and try to find something good to listen to on the radio or through your phone so that your car time is more enjoyable. Stuck with an unpleasant co-worker or family member? Find something good in the situation, even if it’s just that your time with them won’t last forever. You can only do what you can do in this present moment. Stress tends to arise when our minds get ahead of our present existence, and we expend a lot of energy (though not a lot of calories, sorry) worrying about things that might not even happen. Do what you can do right now and put the rest on a list or let it go completely. If it’s important, it will come back, I promise!
Eating the elephant gets easier with time, and elephants are even gluten-free 😉
Don’t let stress derail your fitness journey. Stress is a normal part of life, so arm yourself with some strategies like these so that you can live better every day.