Stress, understanding stress and some sleep tips!

February 6, 2017 / health/lifestyle
Stress, understanding stress and some sleep tips!

Stress
Stress isn’t always a bad thing. For example when we train we create an intended stress to the system often resulting in a growth response in resistance training.
However it is important for you to have a basic understanding of the stress response and the difference between chronic stress and some normal lifestyle stresses.

Resiliency
This is your ability to bounce back from a stressful situation or event. If you have a strong resiliency then you are able to cope with stress very well. However continued stressors may effect our resiliency and can therefore make everything seem a lot more stressful than it is. This often can come down to perception is everyday life for example sitting in traffic, if you are already used to firing a stress response then you may perceive this as being stressful. However the reality is that it is just sat in traffic and is just a fact of our everyday life.

So how you perceive certain stresses can have a impact on how these stressors effect you on a physiological level. There is simple tricks such as adding a positive thought always to the end of a negative one. The truth is we all get negative thoughts and positive thoughts that is human, however if you can hold add a positive to a negative and then let that thought pass.. this can actually reduce the effect the stress has on your body. So they key message in this paragraph is PERCEPTION. Understand perception and begin to work on changing it and you may start to feel much better if you are reacting to stressful events that aren’t actually stressful.

You can also bring in some strategies to help manage stress.
This can be some simple mindfulness, a little more time laughing or doing things you love, practicing gratitude, self compassion journalling, maybe some meditation and nlp. There is some interesting research actually showing that even looking at some pictures of nature can help people to feel less stressed. Making sure your nutrition and your lifestyle habits such as sleep, hydration and exercise support you also go a long way for managing stress.

Chronic stress meaning long term high levels of stress with a reduced resiliency (ability to bounce back) is very different and can be caused by many things such as, certain situations, over training, lack of nutrition, sleep, underlying health problems and constant worrying. Chronic stress can therefore begin to effect the body and make it more vulnerable to reacting to little things making your even more stressed. Most things can be treated and often just require some external intervention and guidance to find the route causes and begin to address them. Not to scare monger as that is what im not about, but chronic stress can lead to hormone imbalances and effect your eating behaviors and your body composition so its important to manage stress.

As many of my readers and clients are resistance training individuals looking to optimize their body composition often the course of being highly stressed can be over training. Whilst many argue there is no such thing there in fact is and it is very real. If you are constantly worried, fatigued unable to recover and progress in your training and smashing every body part past your recovery abilities then this may well be the reason for you feeling chronically stressed. Sometimes all that is needed is to back off the volume a little, program smart, train smart and continue making progress and feeling better.

Im not no hippy and am very much evidenced based in my approach! but going back to hunter gatherer days. We may have fired the stress response in response to being chased by a predator for example. Transfer this to the 21st century and we may be firing a stress response to things that aren’t actually a threat but the brain has still perceived it as a threat. This is often the case with anxiety, again some stress management techniques and positive calm thinking can help reduce the response.

However it is still important to remember that during a stressful event, a stress response is in fact normal and the key thing is having resiliency or building on resiliency through various techniques. If there is something underlying causing that response then that may need to be investigated.

Here is short link to a youtube video which goes a little deeper and explains what i have wrote this article on and i recommend watching it so that you understand the effects and management of stress. https://youtu.be/WuyPuH9ojCE

Some takeaway questions to ask yourself:
Are you resilient?
Do you take some time to manage stresses?
Do you take some time to relax? Do you think about balance and taking some time to do the things you love? Do you laugh often?

SLEEP
This is just a short section and foreword on sleep and its importance this may help you think a little bit more about sleep.
Sleep as you are probably aware is very important to our recovery and our stress levels as well as our memory, mood, focus and other important physiological things.
Here is some questions to ask yourself regarding your sleep:
How many hours are you getting? not just time in bed but how many hours asleep?
Are you getting sufficient amounts? research says 7-8 hours but some people may need more and some may need less.
Are you waking often? do you do shift work? what is the overall quality of your sleep like?
Some tactics to improve and think about are:
Use a sleep tracker to track how many solid hours you are getting? then work by yourself or with a coach like myself to improve the quality.
Turning off electronics before bed can help
Writing down a to do list to take things out of your brain and onto paper to stop you over thinking.
Is the sunlight coming through to early? maybe invest in some blackout blinds.
Are you comfortable?
Is outside noise waking you up? maybe invest in some ear plugs.
Is your temperature of your surroundings right for you to sleep? I sleep with a fan on all night not only for temperature but also for the droney white noise type sound, it also helps to drown out outside noise.

To conclude stress is not always a bad thing and is perfectly normal, however we can all benefit from some stress management. Chronic stress is often normal too but may cause problems if left untreated so its important to manage this the best we can.
I hope that this article has helped and even if it has helped one person then my mission is complete. Stay tuned for more!

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