Over the years I have developed and incorporated numerous systems for dealing with stress into both my own life and the lives of my clients.
If you haven’t already read it elsewhere on the website, stress is one of the key reasons that people gain body-fat.
Consistently elevated stress levels lead to increased production of the hormone Cortisol, which, when it works in conjunction with elevated insulin can cause you to store body-fat more readily, particularly around the stomach area.
Stress can also be one of the hardest things to deal with in a person’s life, in order to unlock the key to their weight-loss success.
Changing their diet, whilst not easy, is very simple. It’s something that people will have tried before and they’re aware of the concept, and at least initially, have no problem getting their head around it.
Dealing with stress however, is a much bigger issue. Most peoples’ lives now, contain many, many more sources of stress then they did only a generation or two ago.
And also it’s my honest opinion that the way society is contributes towards this increased, elevated stress.
The vast changes over the last few decades in the sharing of information have meant more and more comparisons of each person’s everyday life to an ‘ideal life’ that is thrown to them on a daily basis.
I recently heard the quote that “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel”.
We are constantly shown footage and images of people living what appears to be a fantastically exciting and enjoyable life.
We’re, supposedly, shown behind the scenes, of celebrities’ lives. And when our life has an enjoyment and excitement level that does not seem to match up to that, then it adds more stress to the general, everyday stress list of work, family, and (if applicable) children.
Now obviously, there are some stresses in your life that I can’t remove.
I can’t take away that annoying boss.
I can’t make your child sleep better.
But, there are some stresses that you can remove and for those you can’t there are things you can do that minimize their impact and their effect on your body composition.
One thing I found particularly useful over the years in dealing with stress is to use specific relaxation techniques.
There are lots of different ones that you can use and different ones work for different people.
But, if you haven’t tried it before I would say experiment with different relaxation techniques and find one that works for you and dedicate time each day to doing it.
Examples of these can be meditation, yoga, Qi-yong, and so on.
Meditation is the easiest and least time-consuming of the relaxation techniques that I’ve tried.
Every day I make sure I give myself at least 2 five minutes blocks of time where I can stop, I can think, I can put things into perspective.
Meditation doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a special place sat with your legs crossed in half-lotus position.
It just needs a little time where you can put the other things in your life, your everyday stresses, into context.
You can think about what’s important to you, and the good things in your life.
Sometimes I do this at home when waking, sometimes while driving to work, other times it might be done in my lunch-break.
Having finished my food I would take 5 minutes to sit and think about my children, to be glad for the fact that I have two healthy, happy young boys, to the fact that I have a house and a car, that I have good health, that I have a loving girlfriend, and that I have family and friends around me.
The fact that I live in a time in history where things are ultimately at their easiest and best ever.
Compared to only a generation, or even 100 years ago, we do have it easier than we ever had before.
We have more leisure and relaxation opportunities. Work generally is less physically demanding. We have longer life expectancies.
When you really stop and think about it, it puts the stresses of life in perspective.
The stresses and strains I face on an everyday basis aren’t really all that bad in the grand scheme of things.
And there a lots (billions even) of people with far worse lots then me.
A second relaxation technique I use is to have specific points on my journeys between the various places where I play the different roles in my life.
When I pass these points I make a conscious decision to put away the previous role I’ve been playing and the stresses related to that and start to concentrate on what I would need to do in the new role I’m about to be in.
For example, having left work, I have a specific location in my journey between work and picking up my children.
When I pass it this point, I make a conscious effort to put away, mentally, the stresses related to running the business and I’ll start to think about my children, what I’m going to do with them, and what’s important to me with regards to them.
There are similar locations on all of the various journeys I make.
Lamp posts that when I pass I switch off from being a boyfriend and switch on my work brain
Corners that I turn where I switch off to being a father and switch to another role in my life.
So, give this a go.
Find certain, specific locations (bends in the road, lamp posts, points of interest) along the routes you take between the different roles you play in your life, and decide that each time you pass them you’ll make a concerted effort to mentally switch from one role to the other and leave behind the stresses and other concerns of these roles.
On your journey home, decide on the points we you will stop thinking about work and you’ll switch back into being a boyfriend, husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, etc.
Once you get into the habit of doing this, it surprising how much a difference it makes in stress levels and their impact on your health and physique.