Let’s talk about stress, sometimes it’s nowhere to be found… other times, it’s running or ruining your life. It’s something we all deal with in some capacity, and from years of experience, a lot of us are dealing with it poorly. Today we are going to help you find a healthy way to deal with whatever is stressing you out in your daily life… and that could be any number of things: kids, work, living in a pandemic… things are intense right now. Before we dig into some ways to help you manage or channel your stress — we aren’t doctors or licensed therapists, if you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact your mental health care provider.
This episode could not have been better timed for me, personally
THE WAYS STRESS CAN WRECK YOU
- Stress affects more than just your brain, it affects your entire body. How so?
- What happens when your body reacts to a threat? Your brain sets off an alarm in your body which fires your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline will increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure, and give you an energy boost. What is cortisol? It’s a hormone that increases glucose in your bloodstream; it also enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also alters your immune system response and suppresses your digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes.
- Normally after a threat has been handled, your system chills out and goes back to normal, but when you’re encountering stress for long periods of time, it can put you at risk for a host of health problems: anxiety, depression, digestive troubles, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, sleep issues, memory and concentration problems… all no bueno.
- Stress can also contribute to worsening mental illness if you have a pre-existing condition. If you’re schizophrenic, stress can cause hallucinations and delusions. If you have BPD it can trigger both manic and depressed episodes. All of those things just mentioned are reasons why you should work on perfecting the art of de-stressing.
WHEN ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER STRESS?
- Stress can come at you at literally any time in your life, but sometimes you’re more susceptible than others. You may be leaving the door open without even knowing it, so let’s talk about ways to pinpoint and then solve the problem.
- You don’t have a support network – having a supportive group of humans can help with a lot of problems you encounter in life… sometimes all you need is someone to listen… as corny as that sounds, it’s true.
- You’ve experienced a major life event like moving, starting a new job, having a child, getting married, or the death of a loved one.
- You’re not sleeping enough. Countless studies have shown that not getting enough sleep leaves your brain in bad shape… when you throw more stress onto a structure that isn’t currently well-maintained, it can be a recipe for disaster.
- You’re not eating the right foods. When you’re feeling extra crummy is the most important time to fuel and nourish your body properly. It sounds like a lot of work when you’re in the weeds, I know… but like with sleep, you can’t give something your full energy and attention if you’re already running at a lower capacity.
STRESS IS INEVITABLE, SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT?
- Stress is a part of life. So when you’re under fire and can’t currently change what’s happening, you need to learn how to handle situations you have no control over… otherwise it will drive you mad. So how does one do this?
- Learn to identify what is setting you off and how to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Stress management can look different for everyone, but here are some strategies.
- The first thing anyone needs to do is accept that you have needs and that you are 100% allowed to make them a priority when needed.
- Who or what triggers you? Once you figure this out, you can decide what social actions to take… you can avoid them when it makes sense and you cope when you can’t avoid them.
- Eat a cleaner diet and get some exercise – The fitness and nutrition podcast chicks are telling you about the joys of fitness and nutrition? WEIRD! 🙂
- Practice some relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, massage, or meditation.
- Make time for your hobbies.
- Learn how to better manage your time – making a day-to-day schedule can help you not feel so overwhelmed by everyday tasks or deadlines.
- Get some sleep. We just talked a couple of weeks ago about the importance of sleep and recovery in your daily life, here’s another example.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Trust us on this one, and the professionals agree, self-medicating is a bad idea. Drugs and alcohol usually end up making things worse.
- If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, please seek a professional.
If you have questions, we can help, email us: hello at meathead test kitchen dot com. For show notes, recipes, fitness resources, and the MTK store find us at meathead test kitchen dot com. You may not have mastered the art of stress relief just yet, but at least you have some idea of what you’re dealing with and how to deal with it. Again, if you’re really under fire right now and you feel like life is too much, please contact a mental health professional. We need you here and you need you to be running at your best.