In occasional small doses, stress can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But if you find yourself in a constant state of stress, your mind and body will pay the price. Indeed, stress releases the hormone Cortisol, which acts to break down muscle tissue. This is highly inefficient because reduced muscle tissue in turns decreases your resting metabolic rate, which can then lead to an accumulation of superficial and visceral (deep surrounding the internal organs) body fat.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help streamline your lifestyle and eliminate some potential sources of stress before they even occur.
The importance of planning
Although exercise is known to relieve stress, finding the time to get to the gym (plus the resultant guilt if you don’t manage it) can often add to your woes. The best way around this is to take control. Plan your workouts ahead and schedule them into your diary and lifestyle well in advance. This will help prevent excuses, poor planning and other commitments elbowing your health goals to one side. As a personal trainer in Brighton and Hove, I frequently meet clients at the initial free consultation stage who comment that they really struggle to motivate themselves to exercise because there is no accountability. This is where personal training, where time is set aside each week, is so effective.
In terms of nutrition, a poor diet is a stressor in itself as it contributes to our physiological stress response. We can help reduce this additional source of stress on the body by ensuring that the foods we eat provide us with all the nutrients we need. A diet rich in antioxidants is highly beneficial in helping to overcome the negative side of stress. A good starting point is to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables in as many different colours as possible each day. Red, orange, yellow, green… your goal is to eat a rainbow!