Tip Of The Month:

THE POWER OF CALM- By Fitness Australia

Why understanding and managing stress can smash the barrier to achieving health & fitness goals.

STRESS… It’s a small word with an outsized ability to affect the way we feel, behave, look and perform. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that it affects almost every system and process in the human body. Did you know that over 75% of trips to medical practitioners are thought to be, in some way stress related, and 2 out of 3 of us believe it negatively affects our health and well-being?

The modern world can be a busy and challenging place, but stress is not just hanging around in the air waiting to happen to us. In fact, there is actually no such thing as a stressful SITUATION… only a stressful RESPONSE.

Please consider this for a moment… This isn’t just mincing words. It’s fundamental. If we can connect with the fact that stress is not a ‘reality’ but our own response to a threat or challenge, then we can understand how to identify and manage it more successfully.

This is an article about basic physiology and simple science. A body under the constant ‘Red Alert’ pressure of the stress response is prone to         exhaustion, imbalance, and breakdown.

Let’s take a look at just 4 ways persistent stress can affect the systems and processes that support health and performance:

 

Digestion and nutrient absorption: Digestion is one of the most energy demanding processes in the body so, when stressed, your system       suspends this function to conserve energy for fight/flight. This is why, when stressed or anxious:

  • Your mouth goes dry (saliva production is the first stage of digestion),
  • Your stomach feels unsettled (normal peristaltic motion is interrupted)
  • You need to go to the toilet and may have loose bowl movements (absorption of nutrients and liquids can reduce by up to 50%)

Even our best efforts to eat well can be undone when the nutrients we consume are not properly absorbed… and simply pass through the system.

It follows that dehydration can also be more of an issue in the chronically stressed.

 

Sleep and recovery:

Stress is your body’s alarm system… and what good is an alarm system that lets you sleep through it right?  When you bring stress into bed with you at night it disturbs your circadian rhythm resulting in disturbed sleep patterns. A lack of restful sleep can impair your mental and physical potential more than being drunk!

This is not just a night-time problem.  When stressed your parasympathetic nervous system is impaired. This is the system that supports the 3 R’s of rest, repair and regeneration. Recovery post workout can be substantially impeded when you are stressed and energy levels are invariably down.

 

Appetite and weight control:

When under stress the body receives a message to release energy for fight/flight. This results in spikes in blood sugar and an appetite that is random and hard to control. What’s more, stress today is rarely associated with the need to expend more energy… clients are often sitting at a desk all day.

Stress hormones are not smart enough to know this and message the body to ‘fuel up’ post stress whether the extra calories are needed or not. The stress hormone cortisol further directs this excess ‘energy’ to be stored as visceral fat around the belly… a very unhelpful combination of effects for those trying to manage their ‘weight’.

 

Mindset, focus and discipline:

When under stress the body receives a message to release energy for fight/flight. This results in spikes in blood sugar and an appetite that is random and hard to control. What’s more, stress today is rarely associated with the need to expend more energy… clients are often sitting at a desk all day. Stress hormones are not smart enough to know this and message the body to ‘fuel up’ post stress whether the extra calories are needed or not. The stress hormone cortisol further directs this excess ‘energy’ to be stored as visceral fat around the belly… a very unhelpful combination of effects for those trying to manage their ‘weight’.