Stress is everywhere
Updated: Sep 6
Stress comes in all forms and the body does not discriminate. Stress creates a load on the body's systems. We often think of the load on the body and stress as two different entities. This is particularly true when we start to think of physical performance. We wonder why we aren't achieving the same results yet putting in the same amount of physical work or load. This is because the body responds to all stressors in the same way, not just physical stressors.
Stress can come in the form of physical stress/load, psychological stress such as work stress, digestive stress such as poor diet, fatigue etc. All of these things add up to the total stress load placed on the body and can lead to overload. Understanding that all of these elements add up on top of each other can help us find a balance or return to balance. For example at times of high work stress, eating well and not striving for a running PB can help get through this time.
The body needs some level of stress as this is how our body is stimulated to improve, however constantly overloading he system leads to system fatigue and breakdown. Breakdown can be related again to many of our body's structures. It could be physical breakdown in the form of injury, immune breakdown in the form of illness. Or could be related to mental or digestive health. We need to find a balance between load on our system to promote improvement adaptation before we overload the body.
If the total stress load experienced but the body includes emotional stress, how can we adjust this to help our body cope better. One way of looking at emotional stress is:
Stress experienced = demands placed - perceived ability to cope
Often we cannot change the demands placed on us but we can try to change our perceived ability to cope. The demands can be in our work place, physical pursuits or home lift. How you believe you will cope and perform has a massive impact on the stress you experience for the outcome you achieve. Having tools you can arm yourself with to best believe you can achieve could be:
positive self talk
breathing exercises or meditation
professional advice from a psychologist
How your body performs and recovers when you train or exercise is related to so many factors. Injuries happen when your body is not coping. It is important to be aware and look at yourself as a whole.
What you choose to eat and drink impacts how you feel, how you recover, how you handle stress and so much more. Life in lockdown has meant many people have changed their eating and drinking patterns leading to changes in how they feel. The most common things to create negative nutritional stress are:
These impact your body's ability to rest and digest, your ability to sleep, recover and rebuild. All of these factors can be easily managed and adapted so that you can feel your best and perform at your best, whether in work, home or sport.
Sleep and stress have a complex relationship. We need sleep to recover from the stress on our body. Sleep facilitates a whole range of bodily processes such as muscle repair and mental concentration. Stress however, has a negative impact on sleep and a slack of sleep or sleep deprivation in fact increases stress. This creates a nasty cycle. Breaking this cycle is vital to our health now and our health in the future. Find the balance and strategies to reduce stress so that you can improve your sleep, which will in turn help you recover.
Stress is not always a bad thing, we do need it at some level to function and improve our function. However, we need to find a healthy balance. Looking at the many different elements that create the total stress load can help decipher where we can gain control and adjust, especially at times where one element may be experiencing heightened levels of stress. Find your balance!