Let’s talk about stress and sabre-toothed tigers.
When we’re feeling overwhelmed, our bodies react in the same ways that our ancestors did when they were threatened.
To get away from the perceived danger – be it a giant predatory mammal or a looming deadline – our endocrine system fills the body with stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
This is great when you need it – but not so great when you have a personal training session to attend and the tendency to let stress “win.”
When we are constantly dealing with stress, it starts to affect our health. In my case, stress comes in the form of having what seems like far too many things to do at once. The first thing I sacrifice is food. I’ll realize I’ve been sitting at my computer for hours and haven’t consumed more than coffee. The next things to go are any commitments like plans, appointments, or personal training sessions.
What I’m about to tell you is shocking: this behaviour is actually counter-productive to stress relief.
Life happens. And with that, stress is always going to “happen” too. Instead of looking at exercise as a burden in your busy day, learn to look at it as a relief.
The exposure to stress hormones for a prolonged period of time can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, weight gain, and concentration impairment.
Exercising in any form encourages your body to release endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. This immediately decreases levels of tension, improves sleep, and stabilizes moodiness. Exercise quite literally helps to release the day’s stresses.
Although it might feel like the right thing to do is forgo that hour at the gym so you can deal with the kids or slot in another meeting, it’s actually the one thing that might help you the most.
That’s something I learned the past week. The clock was slowly ticking towards 8 am and for a moment, I reverted to an old habit: scheming ways to stay at my computer longer to get more work done.
As soon as something feels familiar, though, I ask myself if it’s the right choice. This entire process of working with a personal trainer at Steve Nash and sticking to a workout plan is new to me, and consistently doing what’s new is helping me create new habits.
So it was a red flag for me the moment that familiar little voice crept in and said “but wouldn’t it be so much getting to skip it so you can finish this article?”
Actually, I’m learning that would be worse. So I closed my laptop and I left. Combine the feeling of achievement that you from completing a workout: seeing strength gains, changes in our body, and boosted self-confidence, with those positive endorphins. With that, by the time I returned to my laptop, I had a better sense of clarity and renewed energy to tackle my deadlines, or a sabre-toothed tiger – whichever came first.
When you’re run-down, burnt out, or exhausted, it’s easy to forget how good it feels to be active. But discovering the connection between exercise and stress relief is a powerful driver in getting you out the door and doing something good for yourself.
Another strong motivator is having a personal trainer waiting for you at the gym, like the world’s best accountability buddy.
Don’t let them – or yourself – make excuses to not show up.