Fast paced, high stress lifestyles are the norm nowadays and the effect this can have on your overall health is one that can’t be ignored. The stressors pile up on one another: work deadlines, personal relationships, friendships, poor sleep, money problems, poor digestion. Even overtraining is an additional stressor. Eventually, something has to give and, unfortunately, it is likely to be your health that is first to go.
The Straw that Breaks a Camel’s Back
Once it gets to this point and you are undertaking a regular training program you may be told that you are overtraining. While this is a very real thing it might not be the only thing weighing you down. If you are managing less than six hours of sleep per night, eating under your calorie requirement, overworking, or even struggling to deal with the rest life has to throw at you, chances are your training isn’t the problem -- your overall recovery is. Much like you can’t drive your car on an empty tank, the same is true for the body.
So how do you recover harder than you work? It is highly recommended you include a variety of recovery protocols. Some of the more popular ones are:
- Yoga or similar stretch classes. This seems like a no-brainer and it is. While yoga isn't for everyone, simply doing a 5-10min stretch routine will do wonders for your mind and body.
- Meditation. You don't have to be in the mountains with the monks - simply close your eyes and focus inward. Visual imagery is a good form to start with that relaxes the mind.
- Breathing drills. Also a form of meditation, breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and move you into a state of rest.
- Very low intensity cardio training. This is about doing simple acts like walking for leisure, social bike riding or even something like tai chi.
- Regular healthy, nutrient dense meals. Your ability to cope with stressors improve when you have optimal nutrition. Focus on fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals.
- Consistent sleeping routines of 8 hours or more. Proper sleep will help restore and replenish the body and mind.
- Good hydration. Drinking the appropriate amount of fluids is essential for bodily functions, especially detoxification of the body.
Learn to Live with Stress
Stress can be hard to remove from your life. The mantra is simple: remove what you can and then learn to better manage your response to the ones you can’t control. If you follow this simple tip, you will immediately see a decrease in stress. Stress reduction has a few added benefits essential for recovery including an increased appetite and better sleep quality.
On your Marks, Set, Recover!
So remember: what you do outside the gym is often much more important than what you do inside the gym.