A few weeks ago California enacted strict water conservation measures. The state is looking to cut its water usage by 25%, and citizens now aren’t allowed to water their lawns between 9am and 6pm, and are only allowed to water the lawn twice a week.
California and their water crisis can teach us a very serious lesson about stress. All we have to do is look at the reservoir.
Stress is something we all have to deal with on varying levels every single day.
Stress could be sudden, like you dodging an oncoming car because you accidentally walked into traffic while Facebooking.
We’re really kickass at handling this sort of stress because we can tap into the fight or flight response, and either start kicking serious ass or hightail it out of there.
The other form of stress is chronic stress, and we’re a hell of a lot worse at handling this kind of stress. We can’t just up and fight or flight our way out of a chronic stress situation, much as we may like to.
Think about when your boss has been on you for 2 months now about turning in your TPS reports, and all you’re worried about is that red Swingline stapler.
While you may want to fight or flight your way outta there, that’s usually not a good career move, so you deal with it.
Everyone knows stress is something we need to cut back on and avoid, but we really don’t know how it affects our lives, and what might be the causes of stress.
Stress is a bit of a murky subject.
Stress causes us to rise to occasions, and to dig deep within ourselves at times. We adapt to the stress, and are better because of it.
Those who “get it” realize there might be a life changing moment, and they rise. They respond the stress for the better, and their life is better for it.
Keeping watch over your stress reservoir.
It helps to start thinking of stress as a large reservoir that you pull from. All during the day you’re pulling from your stress reservoir to deal with daily fuckery such as the jackass in front of you and your boss and his damn TPS reports.
We all inherently understand that we need a bit of stress. It’s good for us up to a certain point. It allows us to grow, to adapt, and to become better.
What we don’t quite understand is the ways that stress can keep us from reaching our goals in the gym or in the mirror.
Remember the stress reservoir. Everything pulls from that stress reservoir. Chronic stress like your boss, immediate stress like driving in traffic, and the work you put in at the gym.
Lifting weights is difficult business. It’s hard, it’s taxing, and it requires a ton of work. It takes a ton of time to get the results you want, and you’ve got to work for those. But you can only do as much work as you can recover from; if you can’t recover you’re not going to see any changes.
This is where stress comes into play. Adding more stress to life in the form of the gym is going to be detrimental to progress at best, and might seriously be damaging to long-term health at worst.
You’re draining the stress reservoir faster than you can fill it. Kind of like California is really fucked right now because they’re out of water, you’ll run the stress reservoir dry, hinder recovery, and make your life a living hell.
If you’ve got a ton going on in life like a new job, family problems, work problems, or a perfect storm of stressful shit is hitting you like Hurricane Katrina, then it’s probably wise to back off in the gym. 2-3 days a week of light lifting might be all that you could realistically handle, then when Hurricane Katrina blows over and you’ve rebuilt your levy, start getting back in the gym more.
When the stress reservoir runs low and binge eating.
We have to replenish the reservoir when it runs low, and to do that we need energy. Where do we get energy, you ask?
Food. Namely fast digesting, highly processed, refined food.
Sound familiar? Ever been really stressed and thought eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream was a good idea? I have. Did you feel like Jabba The Hutt after and hate your life? Me too.
The tricky thing is that’s a physical response that’s hardwired. We know we need to replenish our stress reservoir, and we need to do it quickly, so we seek out the densest source of energy we can find and proceed to mainline it.
If you’re like me, you later on stress over the fact that you ate so much of a shitty quality food, which can you guess what happens? If you guessed leads to more stress, you may pass go and collect $200.
Fuck man; see how stress is a death trap?
Some actions to stop stress dead in its tracks, prevent binge eating, and crush it in the gym.
Battling stress is a tough fight. It’s something that we have to continually work on, and we’ll never be perfect at. We’ll always be fighting varying levels of stress.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a few action points in place to fall back on. Getting better at managing stress can help us succeed with our diet, our training programs, and generally kick life in the ass.
- Talking to old friends on the phone.
Talking to old friends, actually talking, is one of the best activities there is in the fight against stress. A 5-minute conversation can shift your outlook on the day.
- Pets, friends, and family.
Getting in touch with your social circle, your pets, or your family does wonders to combat stress, especially physical touch. Physical touch causes the release of oxytocin, which in turn makes you happy. Go cuddle your dog. They’ll love you for it.
- A 10-15 minute walk.
Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever. Bonus points if you can get outside for a short little walk. Good things tend to happen when we spend more time outside. Who would’ve thought?
Now we’re starting to get a little weird, but meditation has shown time and time again to be excellent at helping people handle stress. Just a few short minutes each day can help you remain mindful and handle the issues of the day with ease.
- Working out.
Yes, working out does add to stress levels and high stress makes recovering from a workout more difficult. But sometimes when you’re really stressed, there’s nothing better than picking up some heavy weights and slamming them back down.
California has a serious water crisis on their hands. The reservoir has run dry. Let California be a lesson to you. All the Hollywood stars, all the championship banners hanging in the Staples Center don’t mean a damn thing if the reservoir is dry. Much like nothing in life will be enjoyable or matter a damn bit if you can’t manage your stress reservoir.