What happens when you just keep going and going and forget to rest? And I am not talking about sleep but rest. You have a project, a big project with a due date. You push yourself day and night to get it finished. You are done and you think you now have time to slow down but then another project comes up. And you are right back to burning the candle at both ends. 3, 4, 6 weeks later you hit a wall and your body crashes. You are sick. Your own body has betrayed you. You are now being forced to rest.
- Go to bed at your normal time. Since you have been following me, you know you need 7-8 hours of sleep…every night. This is no different in a high stress situation. In fact, it is now vital. Your performance and work quality will be way below your best if you are running on fumes. Go catch some ZZ’s.
- Don’t falter from your nutrition plan. This is the time your body needs the best fuel you can give it. I know you are going a million miles a minute and you just don’t have the time to make a meal. It is so much easier to grab a pizza or run through the drive through. But I am here to tell you that is false. Think about the serious side effects of that decision. Eating a complete healthy meal is exactly what you need when you are under pressure. The fuel you give your body will help your performance be at its best.
- Speed eating. What was on your desk or lap in the car? You ate it so fast that I couldn’t see it and either could you. This thing you are working on and trying to get done has got you so busy that you can’t stop for 15 mins to eat. I am calling you out on that one. Slow down when you eat. You need the fuel and scarfing it down at the speed of light is not saving you any time. Sit down with your food and enjoy it, chew the food (you are not a dog no need to swallow it whole). Let your brain and gut have a conversation via that vagus nerve. They deserve this time and quality conversation.
- Keep your same routine. For the past X number of months or years you have had the same routine in the morning and at night. Keep that routine going. Get up in the morning and read your devotions, drink your coffee, drink the preworkout, do the workout. Whatever it is you do, keep doing it. Do not get up and immediately put your nose to the grindstone. And the same thing in the evening, don’t work until it is lights out. Do your nighttime routine and make sure you have that time to relax a bit before closing your eyes (for the 7+ hours of sleep…wink wink). Keeping your routines as normal as possible helps to keep your body from thinking that is something wrong.
- No additional caffeine. Last but certainly not least lay off the extra caffeine. You don’t need that 3rd pot of coffee or the 2nd 2 liter of pop. If you are planning your time wisely and doing the 4 points above, you shouldn’t need any extra caffeine. You will be operating at a normal level. If you are drinking caffeine at or after 3 in the afternoon it will affect your sleeping and eating and it will turn into a vicious cycle. This cycle will not stop until you make a conscious decision to stop it. It is an easy cycle to start and a harder one to stop. But it is possible!
Running on high levels of stress constantly will eventually cause your body to shut down. Stress triggers a combination of signals from both hormones and nerves. These signals cause your adrenal glands to release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. This results in an increased heart rate and energy which is a part of the fight or flight response. Living in that response state for a prolonged period is going to cause some issues. Those issues can be heart disease, anxiety, depression, increased thirst, increased eating and for women menstrual cycle irregularities and a decreased sex drive.
This is just a sampling of what can happen when you choose to live in this state. I understand that stressful situations can happen and there are times when you are going to grab some fast food or have an extra cup of coffee in the morning. But learning to help yourself and to control the aspects you can control through your healthy choices will go a long way.
Something that is extremely helpful to me is exercising (you are shocked, aren’t you?). I am currently in week 8 of a 13-week program that has made me stop and think about how I move when doing everyday things like carrying groceries, moving a box, and even sitting at my desk and typing. I have discovered where I carry the bulk of my stress (in my shoulders) and how much it affects me. I have also discovered that I don’t spend enough time trying to release that stress. Even after the situation is over the stress has taken its toll and has left me feeling achy.
Move of the Month
A move that I have recently learned that helps me a ton and is so super simple is…
- Lay on your back with your knees bent or your legs straight. Whatever position is comfortable and allows you to keep your back flat.
- Put your arms straight in the air. Make a fist with your hands or do a thumbs up.
- Move your whole arm and try to touch the ground above your head with your thumbs. Move your arm down slowly and then up slowly. Try to not shrug your shoulders up.
Please note that if you are creating a gap between your back and the floor when you move your arms to the floor only move your arms as far as they will allow you to keep your back flat. Do not arch your back.
Another great move to release that tightness/pressure in your upper thoracic (shoulder blade area) is the yoga position called cat.
- Start on all fours with a neutral back.
- Push up with your arms and shoulders while bring your chin to your chest.
- Hold yourself up in the protracted position, release and then repeat for up to one minute.
If you are in a high stress situation and need professional help, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or a counselor. The suggestions here are not a substitute for medical advice from your doctors. If you would like to talk more about what you could do to help alleviate stress or learn more about moves that can help stretch you out, please contact me.
Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 6 years. Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world. As a coach, she is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination. If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email, on Instagram, or Facebook.