Stress, it almost feels like a buzz word these days. It seems like people are always under constant pressure from all around to do more, work me and be more. Stress can take a real toll on our bodies, both physically and emotionally. Let’s dive in and talk about different ways we can manage some stress and the effects that can have on our performance.
The Stress Family
The stress family is not one to mess with especially when it comes to performance, we’re talking about anxiety, fear, pressure, nervousness and panic. There are lots of theories out there on what causes these things to arise at the onset of performance but some common symptoms include, clammy palms, negative thoughts, profuse sweating, nausea, inability to focus, and/or trouble sleeping. None of these sound like a good time. Now that we know what it is let’s talk about some ways to manage this stress.
It Starts with Awareness
It is known that some amount of stress can be a really good thing. Going into a workout or an event can cause a bit of butterflies which then turns on our “fight or flight” response, and this is a good thing. It can aid in performance and help us crush that new clean PR. When this turns bad is when we start to doubt or fill our head with negative self talk. The first step is to be aware this is happening. Once you hear that little voice start talking take a second, breath and try to find out where this is coming from. Is this your body telling you, hey you haven’t slept, you at a cheeseburger at lunch, I’ve had no water and now you want to do this? Or are you not trusting yourself, filling yourself with and then starting to panic? If this is the case it’s time to change the story in your head and start crushing some PR’s.
Managing The Story
The first part is making sure you are doing the little things outside of the gym, sleeping, eating clean foods and managing your recovery. Once that’s taken care of we need to recognize the story in our head and understand that sometimes it really is just that, a story. If all things outside the gym are on point, then take time to analyze what you are telling yourself. Yes you can do most workouts, yes some days you just need to move, yes you are a really strong human; it’s about managing the negative thoughts that create too much stress.
One of the ways I’ve found to help with this is on my way to the gym. I like to play upbeat music that helps keep my mood light, some people I know like to rock out on their way, maybe toss in some car singing and steering wheel drum set. Once you’re at the gym dive straight in before you can have all the thoughts. If you’re there early find a foam roller or do some mobility work to get the kinks out. Once in the gym I like to laugh at the barbell like it’s my frenemy. You know that laugh you give when you’re like “oh you say I can’t, watch me.” If I follow this little routine, I don’t get super stressed about my fitness and it becomes a very welcome part of my day. To recap, recognize your stress symptoms, find a routine or mantra that works for you, and keep the workout routine going.