Work, kids, school, money, exercise, eating… What do these all have in common? Well they can stress you out to the point of ripping your hair out OR inspire and motivate you to get out of bed and do what you do every single day. The KEY is to find your stress sweet spot and use it to fast track you to your goals and reach your full potential.
Too much stress can get in the way of you and your goals… Maybe even lead to you crashing and burning. However, too little stress can slow down your progress because you’ll get bored. Let’s find out how to hit that optimal point of just enough stress to keep you at the top of your game and performing at your best.
First, let’s go through the difference between a positive and negative stress response. Stressors aren’t necessarily good OR bad, it depends on your response. A positive response means you’re feeling energized, focused, pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, balancing stress and rest, and learning and growing through the process. A negative response leads to you feeling weak, distracted, in need of rest, not challenging yourself, and can even lead to weight gain and metabolic, hormonal and immunity disruptions.
So, how do you handle it? Well first you’ve got to recognize what factors are out of your control and more importantly, which factors are IN your control. If you’re stress resistant by nature and have had lots of practice at handling stress growing up, your view on stress may be that it is a challenge to tackle. But if you’re stress prone and have had little practice dealing with stress, you may find yourself looking at stress as a problem to avoid. If you’re having a hard time changing your attitude and view on stress, look at building a strong support network and changing your environment to have more time outdoors in nature or with loved ones.
It’s important that you look at your current stress load and ask yourself “does it have to be that high or that low?” Think about your goals and how your actions align with them and find out what’s worth taking out or adding in.
What does it feel like?
- Too low: bored, unfocused, purposeless
- Too high: anxious or obsessive, panicked, stuck
- Just enough: energized, engaged, actively moving towards goals
A great way to address inspiration and energy is to learn how to set effective goals. We’ll be releasing a blog post diving into this topic further in the near future, but until then, go read up on the last blog titled “How NOT to set goals” to get started on the perspective you should be taking when approaching goals.
For rest and recovery there are many things that you can do! A lot of it depends on personal preference, but here are 4 examples to get you started.
- Practice relaxing activities: Walking, massage, deep breathing, laughing, yoga, meditation and even (especially) sex.
- Get outside: take your walk outside for improved mood and lower stress hormones and heart rate. Getting moderate sun exposure is ideal and helps increase mood and vitamin D levels.
- Adjust your exercise routine: the most effective way to approach this is with a mix of strength training (weights), conditioning (cardio, intervals) and low intensity recovery (walk)
- Practice self-compassion: ask for help when you need it, get counselling if you’re feeling helpless, know your limits and unplug regularly.
If you follow and apply these recommendations you’ll be well on your way to taking control of your stress. Stay tuned for more valuable blog posts!