Many things can cause stress, both mental and physical. It’s a topic that’s often misunderstood.
Physical stress could be having a cold, a workout, or an injury. Each of these, in its own unique way, is applying stress to the body.
The cold is taxing your immune system as it fights off whatever bacteria or infection is lurking inside you.
The workout is breaking down your muscle tissue so it can be repaired and grow.
The injury is forcing that area of your body to repair itself, using all sorts of cell functions, immune system functions, and muscle functions to get you back in tip-top shape as quickly as possible.
Let’s use the cold as our example here. Doing any sort of activity to apply more physical stress to your body will only prolong your illness. Why? Because you’re taking your body’s focus away from the task at hand: getting rid of the cold.
This is important because a common myth is that you can sweat out your cold. Not really. If you have a cold right now, go outside for a quick mile jog. Your nostrils will feel free from congestion, you’ll be breathing soundly! Hell, you may even have all sorts of mucus streaming down your upper lip. But as soon as you’re back inside, showered, and in your sweats that dreaded congestion is back!
As for mental stress, this also takes away from your body’s ability to recover. If you have a project due at work or chores around the house that are piling up, forget about it! Your mental stress won’t allow you to recover from this cold quickly.
The same goes for muscle repair after a hard workout. Mental stress kills your recovery.
Many people just beginning their fat loss journey or those who’ve seen their results stall might not realize how stress plays such a critical role in the outcome. They don’t realize that stress needs to be seen in two different types: physical and mental. Even though there are two types, there is a huge link between mental stress and recovery from physical stress.
Mental rest as well as physical rest is critical!
The more physical work you do, the more recovery needed. The more mental stress you have, the more recovery needed. If you have high levels of both types, make sure rest is your #1 priority.
Here are a few tips for those who need rest and recovery:
GET OUTSIDE — Being in nature lowers stress hormones and heart rate, and improves mood and immunity, giving you motivation and energy to cope with your next challenge.
BALANCE YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE — Exercise relieves stress by increasing blood flow and stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. Try a mix of intense strength training, conditioning, cardio, and low intensity recovery.
3. PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION — Ask for help and support when needed. Get coaching if you feel stuck. Get counseling if you feel helpless. Know your limits and respect them.
If progress has slowed, follow these simple steps to help jump start it again:
SET EFFECTIVE GOALS — Goals that motivate are specific and measurable, challenging but realistic, broken down into small actions.
START WITH ONE ACTION A DAY — Commit to it for the next 2 weeks. Choose something you're confident that you can do every day. It can be as simple as getting into bed 30 minutes earlier each night, for example.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS — Document behaviors, processes and outcomes. How do you feel different? How do you look different? What have you learned? What are you proud of?
Stress, both physical and mental, can be a detriment to your overall health if not handled properly. Don’t make the mistake of confusing the two types and missing an opportunity to strategies ways to reduce the unhealthy stress in your life.