But balance is necessary and when we hold on to too much we let it ruin our relationships, jobs and even our bodies. By letting go of all the outside stuff poisoning our bodies and minds we can help restore our lives.
Stress can save your life or end it early, the choice is yours! It’s not every day someone tells you stress can be a good thing, however, I want to break down the myth “All stress is bad!”
Let’s look biologically at how certain stresses affect the body in our modern world compared to our ancestral design. We aren’t running from lions or marauders, but a blaring car horn as we step off a curb without looking isn’t much different. Luckily, our natural stress response keeps us above ground. If you’ve ever had a near car accident and had to pull off the road from heart palpitations, the shakes and inability to think about anything else – this is your brain signaling your adrenal glands to flood your system with cortisol and Adrenalin giving you excessive energy needed to defend yourself on a very primal level. We have no choice in this, it just happens!
In reality, these stresses happen daily, even multiple times a day. It may not be as intense but our sensory system is overloaded with car horns, loud music, overbearing employers, deadlines, spousal spats, caffeine, excess exercise, riots, social media, alcohol, etc. and all of this adds up and over time adds years if not decades to our lives.
I’ll admit I can be a little high-strung and the hustle and bustle of the corporate world gets to me from time to time. In no way am I suggesting we give up our modern lives to go live off the land in the wilderness removed from the stress of modern society. But balance is necessary and when we hold on to too much we let it ruin our relationships, jobs and even our bodies. By letting go of all the outside stuff poisoning our bodies and minds we can help restore our lives.
We don’t have to be monks to let go! Each of us has the ability to learn to relax and alleviate the mountains of stress we feel. Below are 5 methods of stress management to make each day better:
- Practice Mindfulness – be present in the moment! Often we spend time worrying about the What If’s and Should Haves. Pay attention to the people your with, put down your phone and really listen, if you find your mind wandering become aware of it and bring yourself back into the present moment. Forms of meditation focusing on your breathing and heartrate can improve this.
- Stretch – whether in Yoga or on your own it’s important to loosen those tight muscles. Many of us internalize our stress and this shows up as stiff necks, sore backs or tight hamstrings. Either separate from your workout or after it’s completed take time to hold each stretch for 30 seconds per position while taking long, deep breaths.
- Interval Training – Interval training where we are doing short burst of hard work paired with less intense work has been shown to be more effective at burning fat and increasing muscle mass while also reducing the stress on joints caused by long bouts of “endurance training”. Those long runs/jogs can actually hinder our body’s ability to produce important hormones like Testosterone and Cortisol.
- Lift Heavy, Lift Less – for years people professed “Light Weights & High Reps for weight loss”. Causing exercisers to do more work and put stress on our muscles, tendons and ligaments leading to injury, movement distortions, a lack of muscularity and weight gain from the inflammation and hormonal disruption. On the flip side, heavier weights performed for fewer repetitions causes strengthening of the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Lifting can be a stressor, but when done right it creates a lean, muscular physique promoting production of necessary hormones like Testosterone, Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor.
- Practice Self-Care – whether it’s getting your nails done or getting a massage do things that make you feel good! A weekend trip to unplug and spend time with nature or simply spending a few hours with someone we care about can help reset our minds and lower our stress levels to normal.
Lift, love and let go to live well and live long!