Food for thoughtGeneral

Good Stress, Bad Stress, and 5 Tips for Managing Them

By June 18, 2020 July 30th, 2020 No Comments

I’m not re-inventing the wheel when I say that being stressed out can make it really hard to reach your health and fitness goals. We all know this.

But did you know: Not having enough stress can slow your progress too?

See, stress isn’t a “thing” that happens to you. Stress is your response to the challenges you face every day.

These stressors — like pressure at your job, raising kids, managing money, piles of dirty laundry, nutrition, and exercise — can make you either feel like an absolute Superhero, or cause you to crumble and eat your feelings while binging the latest show on Netflix.

The key is to find your “stress sweet spot” — just enough stress, but not too much — so you can reach your potential without crashing and burning.

You’re probably thinking that you always want to be in a time of low stress, that this doesn’t make sense. But often, when stress is too low we can find ourselves feeling bored and unproductive. You might be unfocused at work or lack feelings of direction and purpose. One the flip side of that, in times of high stress, we may find ourselves feeling anxious and panicked, we may feel stuck.

So how should you feel when you’re under the right amount of stress? Can stress be good? It can!

When the stress is just right, you’ll know. That kind of stress leaves us feeling energized. In our relationships we are engaged and interested. We feel like we’re on a path of learning and actively moving towards our goals.

If you’re with me so far, then we’ve established that all stress isn’t bad. There’s bad stress and then there’s good stress. While in a perfect world, we would live in a constant state of good stress, we simply can’t. Life is an ever-evolving balancing act. And now, more than ever, you might be feeling more bad stress than good. Here’s a few quick tips to help you find those good stress levels.

1. Start each day with an action.

Getting out of bed is hard in the morning. We often hit snooze and start our day by procrastinating. For two weeks, try getting out of bed with your alarm and do one action. Maybe it’s five minutes of breathing, stretching, or meditating. Or maybe it’s just starting the coffee pot. But get up with your alarm and check something off of your list.

2. Get outside.

Getting out in nature and enjoying the sunshine lowers stress hormones and heart rate and improves your mood and immunity. All of these things giving you the energy and motivation to cope with whatever challenges the day has for you.

3. Balance your exercise routine.

Exercise relieves stress by increasing blood flow and stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. Keep your mind and body strong by keeping it varied and including strength training, cardio, conditioning, and low intensity recovery. Don’t forget to adjust as stress changes! When stress is up, decrease your intense exercise. But when stress is low, increase it!

4. Practice self-compassion.

This one is tough because it involves us sitting with our emotions, which can be pretty messy. But ask for help when you need it. If you feel stuck, seek coaching or counseling. Try to regularly unplug. Know your limits and honor them.

5. Spend time with like-minded people.

Whether it’s find a gym community or spending time with a coach or mentor, getting help from people you admire and who will hold you accountable, makes the process of growth and change easier and more fun.

 

 

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