I truly believe that to be “healthy”, you need a strong body and mind. You cannot have a properly functioning “healthy” life if one of them is out of whack. As I described in my post about my journey (read more about it here), I realized working out for health and performance actually made me look and feel better than when I specifically worked out for vanity purposes. There has been more and more research published in recent years showing that stress is a killer. Stress affects so many functions in your body negatively that it is so important to get it in check. I will be speaking a lot about stress on this blog.
Back when humans were hunters and gatherers, stress used to be necessary for survival. Stress was a life saver if you were confronted by a predator. It was beneficial that heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar would all go up, adrenaline would pump, and digestive and reproductive systems would shut down. All of these things would happen in the short term in order to survive the threat. Your body would only let the minimal essential functions work properly to neutralize the threat. After the threat was neutralized, all of your functions would go back to normal. However, mechanisms that protect us in the short term from acute stress can actually become harmful or damaging over the long term. In the modern day world, there are no tigers or bears chasing us. The predators are traffic jams, working two jobs to make ends meet, relationship troubles, etc. People have constant activation of the stress response and do not know how to shut it off. Common effects of long term stress on the body include:
- Muscle tension
- Decreased sex drive
- Digestive issues
- Sleep issues
- Lowered Immune system
Among many, many others.
TIP: Stress can be beneficial to your health in the short term, but NEEDS to be controlled in the long term. Simple methods to lower stress include EXERCISE, deep breathing, meditation, stretching, taking a walk (read more about the benefits of walking here), laughing, talking with a friend, and playing with a pet. Do your best to implement some form of stress reduction techniques when you are beginning to feel too stressed for too long. There are many people who do not need a change in diet or exercise routine, they just need to reduce their stress. If you find that you are dieting and working out and your body composition is not changing like you had hoped, it may be a hormonal issue caused from stress. Instead of focusing on the diet and training program, take some time to implement the stress reduction techniques listed above into your daily routine. I will be writing more blog posts in the future going further into these stress reduction techniques. Stay tuned!