OK, we are cruising along here, we’ve got your workout down, you’re educated up on the foods you should be seeing out and the types of habits to form, and you know what the value of sleep is going to be for your training & health. I can’t tell you that this will be the last piece to the puzzle to your new fitness journey, but I can tell you that it’s something you (and everyone else) should consider when it comes to your health and training. This last piece we’ll talk about is stress. Stress comes in all kind of forms, both good and bad. Yes, there’s good kinds of stress, baffling, right? I am going to borrow from a post I did awhile ago about stress here, because it was some of the same stuff I’m going to write about here.
First off, to get right to the crux of what too much stress can do to you, I want to direct you to a study referenced in Robert Sapolsky’s, Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers. In the study rats, put in different situations, were stressed (shocked). The rats stressed in isolation with nothing to do, developed ulcers. No stress doesn’t cause ulcers directly, but yes it is a root cause. They also stressed 4 or 5 other rats and gave them an outlet of some sort (other rats to socialize with, something to scratch and chew on, etc.). Those rats either developed ulcers at a lower rate or not at all. Simply put, you need a place to ditch all that stress. I advocate for weight lifting, but most exercise will do the trick though.
Many of us don’t really consider ways to relieve out stress until the weekend when we “blow off some steam” and if you read Part III yesterday (hint hint wink wink) then you know that alcohol can really screw with your sleep. Poor sleep-> not well rested-> more stress-> blowings off of the steams again…you get the point, yeah?
In the end, the best way to get rid of this ulcer inducing stress is activity, now if you ask me, picking shit up and putting it back down work pretty well, BUT if that’s not your cup of tea, you have to find something. Food can also effect stress, what it’s doing to your body (hello hormones and chemicals) and how you deal with it. I can tell you first hand, when Spring roles around, and I am butt to elbows with stuff going on, I am in a pretty stressed out state (even if I like the things I’m doing). I’ve had years where I didn’t take care of myself (minimal training for myself, poor diet) and it did not help. The years I stay on top of those things, I am a much happier version of myself, ask the boss, she’ll give it to you straight.
Here’s a few things that I can tell you that will help with this stress thing and no letting it get the best of you.
In summary, stress can be good and stress can be very bad, keep it in check. Use the other 3 things we talked about this week to help you with it. Come back tomorrow where we’ll wrap it up and help make sense of it all. Until then Team First XV, go out there and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS