If you've found this website helpful, please click the Donate button. Thanks for the support.
Like the site? Sign up for the FREE newsletter. I'll send a new article once or twice a month. Unsubscribe
Stress is part of everyday life and virtually nobody is truly stress free. The aim of this piece will be to explain the effects that stress will have on your body in significant levels and how to take these stress levels down to a manageable point. The exercise and stress correlation will also be discussed and why exercising under high levels will actually bring you benefits when working out less. This all has to do with the way your body works and how it is designed to adapt to stimuli in order to grow stronger.
Consider the average person in the United States who gets approximately 6 hours of sleep. While this is certainly not enough for most, America thrives on this early start to the day. What does this mean for you: Tons of stress. Sleep is an important factor in stress management and prevention. This is because sleep is your time to recover and grow from the stress that is placed on it. REM sleep or “deep sleep” is of particular interest and when most of the recovery takes place.
There are many other stressors that aim to ruin your fitness goals other than the pre-mentioned sleep component. Stress from our everyday lives including our job, wife, kids, friends, and relationships can devastate ones true potential for fitness success.
These are environmental stress sources that can be broken up into two categories. The first being permanent stressors that will be in your life no matter what and you must learn to deal with them. The second is stressors that are unnecessary and can potentially be eliminated from daily life.
So what are some permanent stressors that cannot be eliminated? Some examples could be your husband or wife, kids, occupation, etc. I should make things clear and say that all stressors are in one way or another possible to eliminate from your life, but the results could be catastrophic. In other words these are stressors that can be disposed of but for the purposes of reducing stress, should not be eliminated. A divorce or quitting your job might actually lead to much higher stress levels than what you started with and for the purpose of reducing them, decisions to do so should not be taken lightly.
These are major players in your life and should you decide to eliminate them, you must be prepared to deal with the consequences. For instance, if you quit your job you are risking the variety of stressors that will most definitely apply to your life with little assurance everything will “work out”. You might end up happier in the end or long term but in the short term, if you don’t have a plan, this will lead to disaster.
Another aspect to permanent stressors is that they can play a healthy and balancing component to your life. Perhaps the very things that are stressing you out are the pieces holding your life together. Consider the following example: “A man often finds that his wife reminds him constantly of what he needs to do ahead of time. He becomes slightly stressed by this fact but is often reminded of things he would otherwise forget.”
So in this example the man benefits from his wife even though the frequent reminders are the stressors. He is on time, gets errands done, and will not overlook mistakes because she is there to support him.
What I’m trying to say in a nutshell is that if you want to reduce your stresses here and now, don’t cut these major aspects to your life. If you have a plan and want to make a life changing decision because you believe it will be for the best, go for it. In fact I encourage it if the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better and attempts to fix the problem(s) just don’t seem to be working. Keep in mind that these things may be keeping your life together and fulfilling. Just remember the fact that major stress will come along with dropping these stressors and as such, you should be prepared.
These are those little things in your life that you can do without. They can be eliminated or fixed without much consequence or remorse. These are called, “temporary stressors” because they are usually only in your life for a given period of time and not life changing in any way. If you have a feeling that you will feel bad, sorry, or distraught over getting rid of a problem in your life, the odds are that it is a permanent stressor. Caution should be taken when considering this move.
Some examples of temporary stressors could be: time management issues, minor difficult choices, lack of sleep, poor diet, and unnecessary monthly bills. While this is a small sample of the unlimited possibilities of temporary stressors out there, hopefully this gives you the basic idea.
Think for a second about what stresses you out. Now ask yourself, “Do I really need this in my life and does it serve a good purpose?” If you can answer no than this may be a stressor that you can throw out as it is not necessary to maintain balance in your life.
While these temporary stressors are often miniscule in comparison to permanent stressors, they can add up quickly. The majority of stressed out people will often find that it isn’t a single one stress source, but rather a large list of smaller ones.
The good news is that it often is not too hard to let go of these temporary stressors and can even be modified to become life changing and positive. Consider the list of temporary stressors above. A poor diet can lead to stress that is very unnecessary and can be fixed. While there is a variation factor in the perceived difficulty between different people, modifying this stressor will lead to a healthy lifestyle and reduce other stressors such as risk for heart disease. Acquiring such a disorder or disease will only lead to stress for you and your loved ones.
As previously stated eliminating stressors will take thought and planning. This is especially true if it is a permanent stressor that you are seeking to remove. Deciding to get rid of stress is a step in the right direction but should not be taken too quickly.
I would recommend trying to eliminate only one at a time. Even though temporary stressors tend to be smaller in nature, you can easily overwhelm yourself. Say you want to improve your diet, begin an exercise program, and take measurements of everything you eat. While this may sound like I should be encouraging this, it is not the right approach to take. It would be amazing to do all of these things at once and if there was a good chance that a sedentary person with a poor diet could do it, I would support it.
Unfortunately this is not how the world works and it would take an immense dedicated individual to take this all on at once. Ironically this very sudden change in lifestyle may “shock” the body and cause some stress even though the activities are healthy.
Having said that, everyone is different and I know the vast majority of people with their busy lives will want to ease into modifying or throwing out stressors. It’s not that you don’t want to get rid of these bad habits quickly, but rather are working smarter, not harder.
If modifying stressors such as diet or exercise, you will notice that after some time you will begin to integrate these habits into your life. They will become part of you and therefore will have completed the modifying process. The stressor will be gone and you will be a much happier person because of it.
Stress Sources: Temporary and Permanent