We’re heading into a busy time of year with new schedules, etc. and I know a lot of you are feeling some pressure …
… and I also know a lot of you think you should just toughen up and “push through it”.
Spoiler alert: You can’t do it. That’s because stress isn’t all “in your mind.” It’s also in your body.
Your stress response system is a primal reaction... it’s hardwired into your system to keep you safe and alive.
How about we outline some important things you need to know about stress and how it affects you – info that also will help you:
Stress can actually be a GOOD thing.
When your ancestors were under threat – whether it was fighting off a predator or dealing with everyday problems like feeding a growing family – their bodies responded with energy to keep them out of harm’s way.
Our culture has changed a lot since then, but our body’s wiring hasn’t. We react to stress the same way, except our stressors don’t require us to outrun a bear or worry about where our next meal is coming from.
And that can have a major impact on your health!
I want to walk you through what happens to your body during a typical stressful situation. Hang in there with me, because it’s pretty eye-opening.
Let’s pretend you have an interview for a potentially life-changing job at 8 a.m. next Tuesday.
You really want this job, so you spend a lot of time researching and preparing.
But then Tuesday morning you wake up and look at your clock, and your eyes see that it’s 7:15 a.m. Your alarm didn’t go off!
Here’s a quick outline of what happens in your body.
1. Your eyes send that information to your brain’s amygdala, which helps you interpret what you see and hear.
2. Your amygdala basically says, “What the #@*&!!!!?”
3. It sends a distress call to your brain’s command center, your hypothalamus, which talks to the rest of your body through your autonomic nervous system.
Important background info: This system handles all of your involuntary functions, like the beating of your heart, your breathing, and your blood pressure. It works in two parts – the “sympathetic,” which is like a gas pedal, flooding your body with fuel to outpace danger, and “parasympathetic,” which is like a brake, calming things down after danger passes.
4. As soon as your hypothalamus hears the distress call, it flips on the sympathetic nervous system, telling your adrenal glands to release epinephrine (aka adrenaline) into your bloodstream.
This is basically your body’s “GO!” juice.
5. Your heart beats faster, sending blood to your muscles and other organs. Your airways open wide as your breathing speeds up, allowing more oxygen into your system. Some of that extra oxygen goes to your brain, sharpening your senses and making you more alert.
6. To power all that action, the epinephrine also prompts your body to release fuel, in the form of extra blood sugar and stored fat.
7. All of that happens lightning-fast, before you even have a chance to fully register that your alarm didn’t go off! Your body does this to either give you the fuel you need to run away fast … or go to battle.
8. Which is exactly what you do, by jumping out of bed and springing to action. You have a LOT to do in a short period of time, and so much is riding on this interview!
9. Your body kicks on its second stress-response layer, your HPA axis, which consists of your hypothalamus, your pituitary gland, and your adrenal glands.
10. Your adrenal glands dump cortisol (and more fuel) into your system, to keep your accelerator on until the stress passes.
11. When you finally hop into your car, you relax a little, triggering your parasympathetic system, which puts the brakes on your stress response so you can start to relax.
12. But at the interview (which somehow, miraculously, you arrive at on-time!), your sympathetic response kicks back on, keeping you sharp so you can nail the interview.
13. On the drive back home, your cortisol levels dip back down, once again triggering your parasympathetic “recovery” system.
14. As your blood sugar levels dip because your body releases insulin to gobble it up from your system, you feel yourself becoming hungry and tired, or maybe even “hangry” until you can get something to eat.
15. If this is an isolated issue, you’ll go on your way, having a normal day.
16. But if this is just the latest thing to happen in a series of stressful events – or if you never learned stress-management techniques – your body might not know how to put on your anti-stress brake.
Over time, this constant revving of your sympathetic nervous system can lead to health problems that can damage your blood vessels, cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke or heart attack!
As you can see, learning how to trigger your body’s parasympathetic (aka “rest & digest”) system is an important part of learning how to de-stress.
This is such a MASSIVE and chronic problem in our culture today, so I wanted to make sure I provide you with real world tips that will help you in your life!
In fact, I have a brand new eBook called “Unplug” that outlines 22 tips and techniques – including powerful breathing exercises – to help your body learn how to shed stress and find calm.
You can get it by Clicking Here.
One of the most important things you can do to help destress is to take short “breathing breaks” during the course of the day where you sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Calming your breathing calms your body!
Here are some other quick and easy practical tips: go outside for a short walk, listen to calming music, take a half-hour technology break, or read (from a real book!). You’ll find yourself relaxing almost immediately.
Taking a few stress breaks during the course of the day isn’t “weak.” It’s actually STRONG, because it helps you take back control.
Working out and eating right also helps your body recover from stress. I’m always here to help!
All you need to do is contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free consultation to see how we can work together to help you relieve some stress and improve your health.
I hope you have an amazing day,
You can promote healthy sleep through exercise.
It has been proven that being active will help with your sleep and sleeping good will help provide energy for you to be active.
Yes, you can exercise before bed, just keep it low to moderate. Higher intensity has shown to hinder sleep quality.
Multiple studies have found that exercise can improve your sleep quantity and quality, by improving your slow-wave sleep (deep sleep).
Sleep quality is affected by stress, anxiety, and depression, but exercise can help by producing proteins and endorphins that can help emotional regulation through the production of new nerve cells.
Sleep deprivation can decrease energy and affect your focus, which can play a role in inactivity.
These are just more evidence that getting a good night's sleep and exercise is beneficial for your health!
You can find more information in the links below.
Hope this helps you with achieving better sleep!!
Train hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun,
Our health is directly affected by sleep and nutrition! If you have a certain health goal you are trying to achieve then both of these need to be on point to help you work towards that goal. While we know that both affects our health, how they work together and if one affects the other more is the real question. Check out just a couple of points that I found in the links I referenced below, no wonder we are confused.
**Studies have shown that obesity, hypertension, and diabetes affect the quality and duration of your sleep.
**** Consuming a high carbohydrate meal has shown to reduce deep sleep which has restorative functions our bodies needs. Studies that mentioned high carbohydrates reference foods like fried potatoes, confectionaries, noodles, etc.
***Some studies have shown that those that sleep less than 8.5 hours of sleep and are on a calorie-restricted diet have worse weight loss results.
**You can improve your quality of sleep through healthier eating habits. Some foods like fish, milk products, fruits and vegetables have shown to help promote sleep.
***We all know that the lack of sleep will affect our moods, but it seems like it can also increase our appetite and lead to over consumption of food.
**** Our metabolism is affected by sleep deprivation and can actually decrease our calorie burn throughout the day.
Here is my short takeaway. There is a strong relationship between sleep, nutrition and your health, but it is your responsibility to figure out what works best for you. When it comes to eating, knowing what types of foods and the timing of when you eat will be something that you will have to play with until you find what works best for your individual needs. Check out this link below that talks about how different eating styles affects your sleep.
Making sure you get enough sleep will help with your health goals and with your consumption of food throughout the day. In my opinion, anything less than 8 hours is going to directly affect your metabolism, mood and recovery for your workouts.
Train hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun,
A nice windy day called for a short run and bodyweight workout. There are times that we are short on time, so incorporating a workout that requires no equipment helps us save on time.
I was lucky enough to have a spot that had something for me to use for my exercises. Check your area for something similar in the video or maybe some bleachers, a bench, etc. These are just some old school movements that felt good after my run.
Perform 4 sets of 10 reps of the following exercises.
Incline Push-ups. Make sure those elbows drive behind you and not flare out to the side.
Quick, effective, and hit every muscle of you body. Who doesn't like that??? Give it a try and comment below. If you would like some more let me know.
Train Hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun
The Dead Bug exercise is one of my favorites to use on myself and my clients. This movement helps strengthen the core, improve anterior core stability, encourage more of a posterior pelvic tilt, and works on motor control while minimizing pressure on the lower back. Who doesn't like an exercise that does all of that and also feels like a brain game at the same time?
During the movement make sure your lower back stays flat on the ground, so no arching, and you exhale while moving the contralateral limbs. This exercise is meant to be performed slowly, so no rushing through it, alternate sides for most of these variations, and always reset to the beginning.
Here are some form tips to help you get through the exercises.
Beginning position should have you looking like a dead bug! Arms are extended above you, fingers pointing towards the ceiling, your feet are off the ground and are lined up with your knees and your knees are bent to 90 degrees to line up with your hips. Back is flat on the ground.
Inhale and as you exhale slowly press out your right foot as you slowly move your left arm toward the ground so your thumb touches the ground above your head. Keep that foot flexed and lower back stays flat on the ground. Bring it back to the beginning position and perform on the other side.
Alternate, making sure you reset at the beginning each time.
Now the attached video has 4 variations from easiest to hardest. The last one you would perform all reps or time on a contralateral side before performing on the other.
If you give it a try, I would love to hear how it goes and contact me if you would like to learn more about how I can help you on you health journey!
Train Hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun,
Hi guys!! Welcome to my thoughts and just some health information that I hope you can use! Let me just state this now. I am not a writer, English major, or even a blogger, so there will be mistakes in here.