Please watch the following video on Stress Management from Counselor in Training, Bayleigh Griffith:
Please print the following documents and work on filling them out before your next class:
Healthy vs Unhealthy Coping
Life Balance Worksheet
How to get back on track….
When those hormones are awry due to Fight, Flight or Freeze, here’s some surefire ways to get them right back where they belong:
The first is to flee. That’s right, run! Run like something is chasing you and, if you don’t get away it’s going to eat you. If you can’t run, find another full body exercise to perform, perhaps burpees. 325 minutes of high-intensity, full body movement will help all of these hormones go back to normal. It’s 100% effective in all mammals. That’s why the hormones are on in the first place.
The second surefire way to get rid of the stress hormones is to fight. Turn and fight the paper tiger that is causing the problem. And what we know about killing paper tigers the more you kill, the less there are tomorrow. All this means is simply what do you need to do to fix the problem. Write it down on paper, make an action plan and get to work. The more specific you are, the easier the next step is. Below the sentence or paragraph you just wrote, make a detailed to-do list things you can do to make this dresser go away. What actions can you take right now to make us better? This is your stress. You have to own it! You can let it eat you alive or you can take action to make it go away forever. Take action! The more action you take, the less stress you’ll have tomorrow.
But first let’s remind the 88% of your brain that you are safe. So always start these exercises with a deep, deep breath. As you exhale remind yourself that you’re currently completely safe. That will help stop the hormonal Cascade from getting worse.
Long-term prevention comes down to Lifestyle……
You feel more focused and resilient to coping with stress after a good sleep. Conversely, insufficient or poor-quality sleep makes you more prone to stressing out over simple things. A vicious cycle develops: sleep deprivation can increase stress levels, which can further impede quality sleep. Sleep also affects hormone levels. It is a must as it pertains to battling stress.
One of the best natural stress releases is exercise. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. But research also shows that it helps the body become more resilient to stress and the other obstacles life regularly doles out.
Research shows the foods you eat affect your emotional state. Stick to nutrient dense foods and avoid foods that trigger or exacerbate stress. By avoiding or replacing junk food with healthier options, like fresh fruits and vegetables, you give your brain the fuel it needs to stay healthy and alert. High-quality foods, loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, help nourish the brain and create hormones associated with good emotional health. When you eat sugary, processed foods, your blood sugar increases. Your adrenal glands secrete more cortisol (your stress hormone) to manage those blood sugar levels. When those blood sugar levels crash, you often feel lethargic, which further contributes to stress. The responses our body can feel from a poor diet can feel very similar to anxiety.
Dehydration can cause more than just thirst and dry lips. It can also set the heart racing and make you feel light-headed and dizzy, all sensations that are common during anxiety attacks. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stave off any “thirsty” mood swings.
Many people depend on their morning coffee for a jolt of energy and to kick-start their powers of focus and attention. But since it is a stimulant, caffeine can also kick-start feelings of anxiety. The jitters, shakes, and irregular heart rhythm you might get after a dose of caffeine can feel an awful lot like a panic attack, especially if you are already susceptible. Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more and can lead to dehydration (see above).
Meditate, Stress Breathing or Yoga
Meditation is a focused form of guided thought. Meditate on God’s Word. Yoga and tai chi, while movement-oriented, are also proven stress busters. Other stress-reducing techniques include deep breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation.
Utilize your Social Support
Community. Social support. It’s necessary no matter who you are. We’re creating a little community for you here and we will be talking more about the value of community/social support in the months to come.
Supplements will impact everyone differently, and they can’t replace a healthy diet and lifestyle. That said, studies show a few can support stress management. Magnesium can help calm you to reduce anxiety and stress. L-theanine, an amino acid that gives green tea its calming effect, can also reduce stress. So can Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogenic herb that can positively impact stress hormones and energy metabolism.
Spend quality time with yourself
Some people find it difficult to spend quality time with themselves, but doing so is important for emotional well-being. Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, recommends spending more time with yourself because it “has been linked to increased happiness, greater life satisfaction, and improved stress management.” You can start by engaging in your favorite hobbies or even picking up a new one. Journaling daily can also help. Writing your thoughts and emotions can make it easier to manage them. If you are not a fan of writing, begin each day talking to yourself. Sometimes doing this usually results in negative self-talk at first. We find ourselves making declarations like “I can’t do it!” or “I’ll never be able to go through this!” When this happens don’t try to block out that particular train of thought. Instead, take a moment to intentionally counteract each negative thought with positive truths in your life. This simple exercise helps you to discover the hidden hope, and joy in any given situation.
Get rid of the “unnecessary,” so that you can focus better on what really matters.
There are a great number of benefits from simplifying and minimizing. We can lessen our stress and improve the quality of our lives by getting rid of the excess.
Minimalism is a tool that can help you live more freely, with less fear, stress, guilt and restrictions. Getting rid of excess “stuff” is simply one aspect of Minimalism (which is different for everyone). The idea is to eliminate ideas, possessions, relationships, and activities that don’t bring value to your life. It’s about de-cluttering your space and mind, simplifying and not living with the obsession of “needing” more.
We can end up putting our passions, goals, fitness, health, growth, relationships, free-time, and our desires to help others on the back burner because of our concern for our “things”.
4 Things you may be able to reduce to live more simply, joyfully, and fully:
- Your Language – Try not to chatter or gossip and aim to speak with fewer words. Eliminate negative talk to yourself and about others. Talk purposefully, honestly and positively.
- Your Possessions – Remove the “extra” from your life and continuously de-clutter your space and aim to live with less stuff. *Wednesday’s post will cover more details about this. Regularly trash and donate.
- Your Tech Time – Reduce your time behind a screen and spend far less time being connected to everyone and everything, all of the time on the internet. Regularly disconnect.
- Your Commitments – Lessen the load of your busy schedule whenever you can. Commit to less, and open up your schedule for more spontaneity and fewer demands. Reduce your business.
Just Say No
If you try to do more than you can handle, you will only end up frustrated and stressed out. If someone asks you to do something you absolutely can’t do, say no. At the very least, ask for help. And if you can’t do it, explain why kindly but firmly.
Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to handle whatever life throws at you.
“What You Can Influence”
How you choose to respond to your environment directly impacts you success. Remember that you ALWAYS have choices on what you focus on, and how you respond. You waste valuable energy every time you focus on the factors that you can’t control. Think of it as adding weight to a backpack that you have to carry around with you.
Each moment that you spend worrying about factors that you can’t control and the “what ifs,” you are adding weight to your shoulders. You are wasting energy that you could be spending on factors that you can control like training, visualizing and preparation.
Come back to something you can influence like your breath, body language or movement. Your thoughts will likely get off track at some, it happens to all of us. Your goal is to quickly recognize your thoughts are straying and bring them to a thought that helps you be more efficient.
Most of the time, when we are worrying about something, or assuming what’s going to happen, we are thinking and talking about the future. The future is totally not guaranteed, and we can’t fully control it.
If you’re really freaking out about something you can’t control, then stop and make a list (actually writing down) a few things you can do that moment, or that day, that you can control. This will help you realize there is always something you can do to improve your current situation.
Ask for Help
Want to know how the best athletes, coaches, pastors, non-profit leaders got where they are? They asked others for help, asked for opinions and asked for what they wanted.
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
If you’re looking for additional support when it comes to managing stress, boosting your confidence, or finding a sense of purpose, it may be time to connect with someone and get help. Working with an emotional health coach or licensed therapist might be that necessary and life changing next step.
You are not your feelings
I’m stressed. I am anxious. I’m mad. I’m stupid. I’m sad. I’m annoyed. I am upset at myself. I’m angry at him.
NO you are not. You are not ANY of those things. You may be FEELING those emotions, but you are not those emotions, and saying that you are, isn’t helping you.
- Instead of saying, “I’m so stressed about the event,” say, “I’m feeling some stress about the event.”
- Instead of saying “I’m angry about my performance,” say “I feel angry about my performance.”
You are “feeling” those emotions, you are not them. Changing the way you phrase these thoughts implies that the negative emotions are temporary and it forces you to take ownership of them (instead of them of you).
- You FEEL anger or nervousness (or any other negative emotion), but you don’t have to be controlled by it
- We will all have negative emotions or thoughts, some of us will be controlled by them, some of us will fight to not let them CONTROL us
- Emotions are not always a choice, but our behavior and responses to feelings are
- You choose whether you identify with your thinking mind and your emotions…or whether you accept them and move on any way
Manage Our Responses
“Move Beyond Stress”
To move on and to be your best in life, you’ll want to keep releasing your mental or emotional baggage. Meaning, we all have to face people and situations that don’t make us feel great. If we keep shoving the negative feelings down, and choose not to acknowledge them, they begin to weigh on us. If you respond to stress, sadness and frustration with unhealthy habits, you’ll be making it worse and creating poor habits.
If you keep it in and let it build up, it can:
- eat away at your energy
- keep you from going forward
- negatively impact your relationships
- increase and actually get worse
- take away from your ability to be the best athlete you can be
- keep you from being the most passionate, caring coach you can be
- pull away from your ability to love, influence, and teach others
Here are some ways you can “get it off your chest”
- Get it out – cry, scream…release it
- Talk it out with your support team (significant other, friends, family, training partners)
- Share it and trouble shoot it with a professional coach or therapist
- Pray and meditate about it
- Write it out in a journal
Do any or all of these things. The more you can release it, the better. Plus, then you can put all of your energy and focus into the good stuff you have going on.
Stop the Unhelpful future thinking:
There is big difference between worrying and planning. Some thoughts about the future might be helpful and some thoughts about the future are unproductive and harmful.
Most often, I think it’s best to focus on staying present and soaking up the moment. This helps us give our energy and effort to the task at hand and it keeps us mindful and aware.
At times, it’s great to plan ahead, visualize and imagine overcoming hurdles with proper strategies and thought processes. This helps us feel prepared, balanced and confident about what we’re going to do. But if we get caught up in thinking about the future, it will often lead to worry, anxiety and maybe even negativity. It’s good to plan, but it’s not great to think that something has to go a specific way or that it’s a failure. It’s good to visualize, but not to stress about thinking through every possible situation that could happen. It’s good to think about being successful, but not to get anxious over the details that are still unknown.
Types of “Future-Thoughts” To Watch Out For
- Assumptions – Thinking that you know exactly what’s going to happen
- What-ifs – Thinking through all the possible outcomes or worst case scenarios
- Black and white thinking – Using words like “always” or “never” when thinking about the future
Good rule of thumb: If it makes you feel less stressed and anxious, then it’s likely helpful future thinking. If it makes you feel more stressed and anxious, it’s likely unhelpful future thinking.
Don’t focus on fears
In fitness, there are a plethora of movements, some that you may fear at one point or another. A burpee, rope climbs, jump rope…just to name a few. You may be afraid of pain, failing, falling, or missing. You may fear doing something because you’ve been hurt doing it in the past, or because you’ve seen someone get hurt or fail badly.
If you focus on what you’re afraid of, or what you don’t want to happen, you will lose sight of everything you need to do to be successful. This type of negative thinking creates even more anxiety and stress, causing you to doubt your ability to perform. Have you ever been there?
These fears could prevent you from trying, and from reaching your goals. You have a choice to make – do you want to let your fears limit you, or will you work to overcome them? You must confront fear to move past it.
Sometimes you’ll be able to tell yourself “just go for it,” and you get past a fear quickly. Other times, it may take some time to work through. Overcoming fear is often a process, just like your training.
5 Tips To Overcome Your Fear:
- Ask for help
- Visualize success
- Break it down – Start with something very simple that you know that you can do successfully like a lighter lift or a modified version of the movement. Do TONS of reps at something you feel confident with and drill that movement over and over again.
- Take and watch video of yourself – Watch video of yourself successfully completing the movement, or of others who have mastered the movement that you’re afraid of. Seeing yourself and others complete a movement is incredibly powerful and reinforces good technique and confidence that it IS possible.
- Practice a few “mess-ups” – You’ll gain confidence in knowing how to correctly “miss” so that you won’t be so freaked out when it’s go-time.
“Better Handle Change”
Things can change very quickly. We are constantly being forced to think about what we want and what we need to do to get that. Our situations and environments evolve and we must make smart adaptations in order to succeed. There is often a lot of anxiety and worry leading up to a change. When things are changing, or are about to change, you might feel confused or angry. I think a lot of the anxiety happens because we don’t exactly know what to expect, or because people assume that change is a negative thing.
You can look at changes as:
- challenges that are good for you (positive)
scary, bad and intimidating (negative)
Which way of “framing” do you think is going to help you train and perform better? Well, of course the more positive one. Don’t shoot down your future before it even starts. Instead, frame the change as positive and healthy and you’ll see your motivation, confidence and mood all improve!
Sure, life might be a hell of a lot “easier” if more stayed the same and if there were less surprises. That also means it would probably be lot more stagnant and boring. You would not grow or evolve if there were no change. In the same way that your muscles need to be “taxed”, in order to grow and improve, you also need to be “taxed” and challenged, in order to grow and improve.
Knowing WHY you’re resisting something will help you better understand yourself and look at the situation with more clarity. Why are you resisting change? Choose which one below you are worried about:
– I’m worried it will ALL change
– I’m worried about my ability to handle it
– I’m worried about loss of control
– I’m worried about the unknown
– I’m worried that it will hurt or cause pain
– I’m worried that it won’t be “the same”
Reflect on why you typically avoid, or resist change in your life, make some notes.
“Vulnerability Will Make You Stronger”
Trying to be strong, or tough, may actually be stressing you out.
Many high-achievers place really high expectations on themselves. They want to do things well, and do things right. They want to limit mistakes and have the best answers to every question. High-achievers are driven and competitive, which means they may prefer to do things themselves, instead of asking for help. Though many of these characteristics are helpful, they can also work against you.
The ability to ask for help, say when you don’t know, admit mistakes and share struggles is often seen as weakness. When in fact, these exact practices are often what lead to breakthroughs. They’re all ways of being more vulnerable. A word most of you probably don’t even like.
But, what if I told you that through practicing vulnerability you could also be a better leader, have more mental freedom, empower and inspire others, create a bigger following, have stronger relationships and become even more focused on your purpose?
Mental toughness is often associated with:
- The refusal to give in
- Pushing through tough situations
- Psychological or emotional resilience
- Being strong-willed
These attributes aren’t all “bad” or “wrong,” but we have to be careful! It’s not in your best interest to push through pain just to prove something to someone. It’s not best to go through challenges alone.
Pursuing mental toughness in this way often leads to stubbornness, bullheadedness and and even pridefulness. Being overly “tough” can actually lead to more isolation and other problems when it’s meaning is misunderstood.
Make sure you avoid these mentalities that are commonly associated with “toughness”:
- The “I’m fine” Mentality: It doesn’t work so well, believe me, I’ve tried it. Do not be under the assumption that it is cool and tough to not have any problems, pain, hurt, or anxiety. That is the furthest thing from the truth. No person in this world gets by without being hurt, or having to deal with tough situations in life. Pretending that you have never felt pain or anxiety is not healthy, and it can eat away at you.
- The “I got this, I don’t need any help” Mentality doesn’t work either. If you act like you don’t need any support because you think it’s tougher to act like you can figure it out on your own, you may struggle to connect with others. You also may isolate yourself and become unapproachable to those around you. Your relationships with the people who mean a lot to you will suffer, because you won’t be fully open and honest with them.
- The “I’m constantly on the grind” Mentality. No bueno either. Don’t be under the misconception that it is “cool” or “tough” to do more and train more than everyone you know. Doing more is not necessarily better. This may lead to burnout, fatigue, stress, or obsession. High-quality, intense, and focused training sessions will help you improve.
- The “I have to prove something to everyone” Mentality: It doesn’t work well either. Sure, you need to work your tail off to be your best. But, constantly thinking that you need to “prove you’re tough” and that you are “better than the next guy” can easily turn ugly. Strength comes from knowing your own purpose, seeking balance, and overcoming obstacles, but not just so you can prove it to everyone else.
Mental strength is really about becoming a real superhero, someone who’s willing to deal with what most people won’t – physical and mental discomfort. Strength is about becoming someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to get 1% better.
Burnout – Take Action
If you’re stuck in a rut, try one or more of the suggestions below:
- Do something new and fresh. If going to the same box to do your same routine doesn’t make you tick, you gotta mix it up. Try a new sport, a different type of workout, a few sessions with a coach, or implement a new program for a little while.
- Change who you workout with. You may benefit from getting a new workout partner, or a group of motivated individuals that can push you.
- Switch around your schedule. You can change around the days you train, the time you train, and your work vs rest days. Switch it up so that you can try some new things with your training times and days.
- Change your environment. Get outside! Being active outdoors is something that we can all do more often (unless you live and train outdoors, which then I guess would mean you should try training inside). The benefits of being outside are simply undeniable. Try a bodyweight routine at a park, go hiking with a weighted vest, or bring a kettlebell to the beach.
- Take a break. Working out a ton? Are you getting to the box regularly but still not feeling like you are giving the effort you’d like to? If you are constantly thinking about your sport or your next training session, you may need to take a break. If you CrossFit and you are extremely motivated to succeed in the sport, you may be over-training and experiencing signs of burnout.
- Brainstorm with a coach. Talk about what you might be missing, or what you could do more of. Discuss best next steps for you.
- Focus on your nutrition and recovery. Recommit to a plan to get yourself restored and healthy.