Why do we have a stress response?
We need to understand that our stress response or more commonly known as “fight or flight” has developed over an extremely long time and has been in built as a protective mechanism. This was obviously extremely useful when our main dangers involved being eaten by predators or starving to death. That initial response to a danger is now the same response you get to being stuck in traffic, work troubles, relationship/family troubles, exercise, extreme sports, injuries, fear, anxiety, lack of sufficient sleep and being in an energy deficit. All of these things can be recognised by your body and mind as stresses and therefore will delegate resources to resolving these stresses. We can refer to this reservoir as our “Stress Cup” and we unfortunately have a finite amount of resources we can give and therefore recover from.
Not all stress is bad.
The key thing you need to understand though is you need enough stress in your life to keep progressing and it is not just beneficial but essential; of course with the caveat that you are able to recover from that stress and use it as an impetus to improve. Most often stress reaches a threshold, becomes too much and causes negative effects - you have poured too much stress into your “cup” at this point and it will start to “overflow”. Understanding that many factors contribute to your own personal stress cup is key here and knowing this can help you make better decisions when life does get very overwhelming.
How do you know if your cup is overflowing?
- Poor sleep
- Not recovering from workouts
- Wanting to nap a lot
- Reaching for poor food choices you normally wouldn’t
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Getting sick more often
- Losing muscle/ strength.
- Low libido
Just like with most things in life, too little of something can be just as bad as too much of that same thing. Stress is exactly the same, not enough and you achieve nothing, too much and you get sick, burnout and hurt yourself long term. So do not fear stress and do everything in your power to avoid it, instead tackle your stresses head on and be wise in what you select to fill your cup with!