The Role of Stress.

When we train, we put our bodies under stress. We must recover from this stress before the next training session or we risk injury. What we don’t think about, however, is the effect of external stress on our training.

When we encounter a stressful situation, a powerful hormone called cortisol is released. This hormone is responsible for signaling a number of things. Mainly, it is a critical part of the adrenal system and the fight or flight mechanism. It also signals the body is low on glucose – which is required to elevate the heartrate, increase focus, and simply survive in a fight or flight state.

 

During a short, intense workout, cortisol is released.
During long, steady state workouts, cortisol is released.
When we get stuck in traffic and are going to be late, cortisol is released.
When we get into an argument, cortisol is released.

 See a pattern here? We are constantly releasing cortisol in our bodies. The results of overusing cortisol include: chronic injuries, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, hormone disruption and the inability to lose weight. High cortisol levels can be an indication of chronic stress which also carries risk of cardiovascular disease and permanent brain injury or alteration. Therefore, it is critical to reduce unnecessary cortisol release.

 What are some steps to reduce cortisol being released?

  1.  Reduce your stress levels. Obvious? Yes. But this is crucial. The body responds to all versions of stress by releasing cortisol. Create a work/home barrier. Keep work at work and home at home when possible. Follow our evening routine and morning routine plans and create a schedule for yourself dedicated to reducing stress. Find a hobby or activity you actively enjoy to help further reduce stress.

  2. Eat before you exercise. When you skip breakfast before working out, your body relies on cortisol to fuel it.

  3. Sleep.  Turn off the screens, read a book and relax. You really don’t NEED to watch that extra episode.

  4. Laugh. Laughing has been shown to be one of the best stress reducers and better yet – its free.

  5. Listen to your body:If you are not feeling right, listen to your body. Don’t push it as this is where injury can occur.

 The most important on the list is reducing unnecessary stress. Training puts stress on the body which results in a positive adaptation to this stress in terms of health and performance. But unhealthy stress - work stress, personal stress, traffic stress, etc., is all detrimental to both human physical performance and mental health and happiness.

If your workplace is stressing you out to where you take that stress home with you, it might be worth a job change. The negative health effects of unnecessary stress can, and will, permanently alter the brain.  

 If you have toxic people in your life, people who are consistently bringing you down, it’s time to let them go. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time around… who are you?

George Cullen