Effects of Stress

In this post I am going to talk to you about the importance of managing your stress levels and if you do not, how it effects getting into shape and the impacts on your health. 

Stress in the 21st century is a normal part of daily life and it can have horrible effects on your health and fitness goals but there are ways in which you can manage your stress levels. First I want to talk to you about the effects stress can have on the body before going into the solutions in how to manage it.

Stress is a natural process in the body, you have probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response, this is when the body is preparing itself for a stressful situation, releasing hormones called cortisol, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Once these hormones are released you are now ready to deal with the threat but the body doesn’t know if there is a serious threat or that you are running late for work and stuck in traffic, screaming at the person in front of you. The body will react in the same way, releasing adrenaline and spiking cortisol levels to prepare you, overtime this has a negative affect on the immune system, hormones and body composition. So basically leave the stressing to situations that are worth stressing about and not the little things that annoy you, life is too short and your health depends on it.

Elevated stress levels (chronically) over a prolonged period of time weakens the immune system, which can effect the bodies natural defences against the common cold, to its ability at destroying/preventing cancer cells and more. It can effect your mood, energy levels, libido (sex drive) and the body image you are after, as fat loss becomes hard.

How to Manage Stress

Now there are ways to manage stress if you do over think thing situations or get stressed easily, I know first hand as I do tend to stress a lot and have quite a bit of anxiety. So I am going to tell you ways to deal with stress if a situation arises and how this helps improve your body composition, leading to a better body shape. Some of these techniques are advance that require time and dedication to complete on a day to day basis, while others are simple and easy to implement. 

  1. Diet. This is probably the most underrated and underused form of stress relieve there is, diet is linked to improved mood and energy levels, therefore lowering your stress levels. Make sure your diet consists of lots of protein, veggies, healthy fats and carbs, basically eat a balanced diet. Limit your intake of processed foods for whole foods and drink plenty of water. Alcohol increases the release of cortisol (stress hormone) and causes dehydration, which again causes stress within the body. 

  2. Sleep. A lack of sleep effects the body’s release of hormones at certain times of the day but more importantly your energy levels will be low and mood will be irritable, therefore stressing at little things. The lack of energy levels also leads to people going for more coffee than they already drink, the caffeine within coffee is linked to a raise in cortisol, leading to the same response similar to stress. Limit coffee (caffeinated) to 2 a day, one in the morning with breakfast and one before training. Poor sleep tends to lower your willpower to say no to the foods they enjoy a bit too much like chocolate or other sugary snacks, so sleep is important for your health and body composition. So make sure you are getting 7 to 8 hours sleep a night and remember quality is important too. 

  3. Recently I have been experimenting with meditation or mindfulness. There a lots of studies around supporting daily meditation for improved health and productivity. This is a bit more time consuming and an advance technique as it requires consistency (where I struggle) to get the full benefits of meditation. You will need to spend between 10 – 20 minutes a day to sit down and meditate. I use a app you can download from the app store called headspace, give it a go, the first 10 sessions are free when you download the app.  https://www.headspace.com/signup?utm_source=google-b&utm_medium=cpc&utm_UKmpaign=UK&utm_content=headspace_eta_signuplp_free&origintoken=google-b&gclid=CL_89f2ln9MCFVUz0wod4H8Pgg 

  4. Laughter, natures most powerful pain killer and anti-dependent. Laughter increases dopamine and serotonin that helps with mood and stress. 

  5. Another great way to help beat stress is training. Regular sessions based around resistance training or training that you enjoy doing is going to lower your stress levels and help improve mood and release endorphins. Just make sure your workouts last no more than an hour of intense training as this will have the opposite affect and cortisol will spike too high. 

Try and add a few of these stress management techniques into your daily live’s and see how your results and health improve. 

For more information on our Fit Ambition BioPrint packages, that includes a BioPrint test bi-weekly that helps determine hormonal imbalances, one being if stress is affecting your results then head to the services page and discover how we can help you.