One healthy way to manage stress and foster a healthy mind; a fun workout with your granddaughter. April is National Stress Awareness Month, well deserving of a month, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered every single day of your life. Stress exacerbates any health, performance and/or psychosocial problems you may have. Some examples (taken from chriskresser.com) of these include but are not limited to:
-Decreases physical performance -Causes sleep issues/insomnia -Weakens your immune system -Makes your gut leaky -Makes you hungry and crave sugar -Reduces your ability to burn fat -Suppresses your HPA-axis, which causes hormonal imbalances reduces your DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone and TSH levels -Increases your belly fat and makes your liver fatty -Causes depression, anxiety and mood imbalances -Contributes to cardiovascular disease
Stress legitimately has a hand in almost every conceivable biological process in your body. That is not necessarily a bad thing, we actually need stress to survive, but that's for another day. Relevant to the management of stress, what we want to avoid at ALL costs is chronic stress. That means recurring stressors over time. For example, being in a constant state of worry, insomnia or eating allergenic foods on a regular basis. These examples of chronic stress will inevitably affect your health in undesirable ways. So how do you manage your stress to put yourself in a more optimal spot for health and wellness? In my opinion, stress has everything to do with the mind. You may see decreases of testosterone, ailments of your cardiovascular system or increased belly fat, all physical signs of stress, but I guarantee 9 times out of ten, if not every time, the root of the problem lies in the mind. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought." – The Buddha. I don't know if you can argue that statement, but I’d be interested to hear someone try. So if the mind is at the root of these problems, what do we do? Listed below are some ways in which to foster a healthy mind, in turn managing stress.
- Being more patient, there are countless opportunities every day to exercise patience. “Patience attains the goal.” - Faith. This doesn’t mean believing in a white bearded man sitting on a throne somewhere between Neptune and Pluto (taken from Eknath Easwaran), it means not having doubt. - One pointed attention. Whatever you do, whether it be the laundry or a workout, put all of your attention into that activity, don’t let your mind wander or divide. Complete focus on the task at hand, as observed when watching any great artist, musician, or athlete. See previous post “Butterflies” 1-4-12. - Meditation. This can be a turn off for some people but there is great research showing the amazing health benefits associated with this practice. - Stay present as much as possible. That means not worrying about the past or dreading the future (similar to one pointed attention). - Use of a mantra. Choose a word, any word, and repeat it. That’s it. Don’t worry about how weird it may be to repeat a mantra. It’s what you aren’t doing that’s the secret, i.e. worrying about the past or the future, stressing about work, thinking about all the reasons why your mother in law is annoying. It’s a way to stay present. - Give. This doesn’t necessarily mean physical objects or possessions; maybe you give a little time, a little patience, a smile. “In giving we receive.” - SLOW DOWN. This may be the biggest one. We live in a culture where we are encouraged to do more and more in less and less time. It's great getting things done, but a hurried mind will inevitably lead to stress. - Abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing. This is all about activating the parasympathetic nervous system. You can do it anytime and reap the decreased stress benefits immediately. See previous post “Abbs” 11-16-11. - Sleep is everything. Get as much as you can to the point where you don’t get divorced or lose your job. – Robb Wolf. Lack of sleep will create an agitated mind. Adequate sleep fosters a calm/clear mindset. - Smart exercise. Smart means the right balance, not too much or too little. We’ve all felt the wonderful effects working out has on the thought process.
Those are just some examples of how to ease or control the mind so that it doesn’t lead you down the road to stress. There is an infinite amount of uses from these methods and positive attributes to be gained, managing stress is just one. If you are more interested in some of these mind-stress management techniques listed, feel free to ask or email. Most of them are all taken from the same author, Eknath Easwaran.
Related post on stress, training and rest - “Resting Is Training” 11-28-11.
~40 feet of Inchworm with Push Up
5 DB Hang Power Clean (25/35#)
5 DB Box Step Ups (25/35#)
60meter farmer carry out and back to box
5 DB Hang Power Clean
5 DB Box Step Ups
- Do not include farmer carry in 3-round set of HPC and Step Ups.