If you don't deal with your stress, your body will.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 09:39

Do me a favor. Think back to the last time you had an extremely achy joint or pulled muscle, or even when body composition and performance goals weren't happening the way they usually do.

Now riddle me this. What else was happening at that point in your life? Were you in between jobs? Was there a big project or sale on the line at work? Were you and your significant other going through a rough patch or was there even a recent breakup? Were you tending to young kids, sleeping less than ever and still trying to train like you did when you had more time for yourself?

You can not just push this stuff to the bottom and think it goes away. The term "internalizing stress" literally tells you what you're doing to yourself. You are refusing to take the time to mentally process and deal with your baggage, so you put the load on your body.

It's CrossFit Games season, so let's use them as an example. You see your favorite athletes training 4 hours per day and most of them never getting seriously injured. Does this mean we can do the same and use them as an example? No. These top tier athletes have the mental game to match their physical abilities. They sleep 8-10 hours per night, they have their nutrition dialed in to a "T" and minimize outside stressors. They don't take on commitments which would affect stress and in turn their recovery ability. They have built their environment to be helpful in reaching their goals. They have mastered the growth mindset and know how to learn and develop from each experience.

Wouldn't that be nice if we could all live such a life where we can spend hours in the gym? Maybe you can make that a long term goal but for most of us, we have to do certain things and be certain places and deal with certain people and lose certain hours of sleep. That's fine, but don't choose to ignore all of that. Listen to your body, and to your mind. Take the time to reflect on every day. Are you where you want to be? If not, what is holding you back?

Start with 3-5 minutes of deep breath work in a quiet place. As you get further along, find yourself a meditation app or instructor that you enjoy. Work on yourself, and recognize where your stress comes from. Process each day's stress instead of pushing it to the bottom and thinking your hour of exercise is a healthy way to deal with it. Not handling your stress can lead your body to be in a constant "fight or flight" mode and that is simply  unsustainable.

Most aches, pains, and injuries are preventable with smart training and a lifestyle which limits inflammation. If you've followed our blog for any number of months you've heard the obvious ones. Clean up your diet. Get real sleep. Stop drinking alcohol 4-5 nights per week. Drink more water. Take a rest day - it is not a badge of honor to train 6 to 7 to 12 days in a row, it's irresponsible.

But equally as important when it comes to inflammation is how you deal with your stress. Because no matter how well you manage the above factors, it'll be all for naught if you're asking your body to handle things you should be processing in your brain. Once you've figured out where the stress is coming from, assess whether or not you can process it in a healthy way each day. If you can not, then it may be time to evaluate whether or not you really need to be in that environment. Don't place happiness on outside factors or depend on other people to dictate your mood. You control you. Once you get that down you will see improvement not only in the gym, but in all areas of life.


p.s. - I started with the app called "headspace" and also have "calm" in my collection. More often though, I just prefer to turn on my meditation pandora station and let the music create the backdrop. Find what works for you, and dig in.