When we talk about stress management in sports performance, we need to make sure we include all types of stress. Oftentimes we think there is a difference between stressors, and that there are “good” or “bad” stressors. Some may affect you differently, but the body doesn’t know the difference between you calling a stress good or bad. Nevertheless, mitigating overall stress will have a positive impact on your athletic performance.
Below, we will go through some of the most common everyday stressors and how they impact our lives. You’ll also get tips or questions to think about in order to improve those areas if you feel they are lacking.
These things can positively or negatively impact your athletic performance, because stress is stress and the body doesn’t know otherwise.
Common Stressors and What To Do
Outside of life being life, let’s go through how the below can be stressors that could negatively impact the progress you’re trying to make in the gym and/or in your sport.
An easy one. But even if you love what you do, it can add an incredible amount of stress to your everyday life. If you’re able to leave work at work, then that’s exactly what you need to do. Once you’re out the door, let it go, it’ll be there tomorrow.
But what if you run your own business when you’re “on” 24/7?
Plan out each day to reduce anxiety levels
Have scheduled breaks
Schedule “me” time
Make sure to still have fun each week
Have a blueprint of how you’re getting to the goals you want to achieve
Understand your “why”
There will always be stress attached with running your own business, but take the necessary steps to reduce the amount of added stress and you’ll feel a whole lot better.
Much easier said than done to manage. This is where you might have to do more difficult things, but it’s for you and your sanity.
Are the people around you not the support system you need?
Is your significant other the best compliment to you or are you revolving your life around the relationship?
Are your friends only worried about the next trip, getting drunk on the weekends, or who has more money right now? Or are they talking about their future, creating empires, investing?
Do you have a mentor or are you flying blind through life?
Have you truly accepted that you are where you are in life because of every decision YOU have ever made?
Tough questions, tough answers, and maybe even the toughest actions to be taken. But if you want to handle your personal life, then you have to take back all the control.
Ah yes, the “good” stress. Undoubtedly regular exercise has immense benefits, but it is still a stressor. So if all the other areas of your life are crazy, you don’t need to do a full week of HIIT workouts. Maybe you need to do 1 or 2, and go easier the other days.
I’m not saying to do nothing, but have a lighter lifting day; have a day of just flexibility and mobility; go on a walk. Sometimes you can get more with less, especially when your nervous system is already overloaded.
Want to lose weight? That’s great! It really is a great goal to shed some excess body fat, but you have to make sure other factors aren’t going to serve as a hindrance. If the rest of the things we’ve talked about are more detrimental, then a caloric deficit (another stressor) might actually keep you from losing weight.
Sounds crazy that a deficit might not help, but if the body is under enough duress, it doesn’t want to lose more weight. It wants to maintain what it has because it wants to stay comfortable. So if you want to go into a calorie deficit, make sure you can do so without something else in your life causing you to fail.
Poor Sleep Quality
Arguably one of the most important pieces to this puzzle. I’m guilty of not getting enough sleep at times, watching a show right up until bedtime, but we have to prioritize good sleep the best we can.
Sleeping is when the body finally gets a break and can truly recover. We burn the candle at both ends and expect our body to always be ready to go. You can’t drive your car 1000 miles on a single tank of gas, so don’t expect your body to be able to do it.
Got a lot of work to do? A quality night of rest will help you be even more productive the next day. When the body is rested, it’s under less stress and can push a little harder when you need it to. Rest more, accomplish more.
Stress Management is Crucial
All of these things play a role in your athletic performance. Excess stress will hinder our performance in and out of the gym. But if you’re a competing athlete, then it’s even more crucial that you’re able to perform at peak levels exactly when you need to.
I know that life happens and we can’t nail all of these perfectly all the time. I get it. But if one is seriously lacking, then try to make sure the others are on point during that time. If you’re in a bout of late work nights, then tailor the rest of your body’s needs accordingly, and vice-versa.
When the body is under less stress, it can do a whole lot better in all areas of life. Manage stress and you improve your performance.
If you're looking to improve your health and fitness, Colin Slager is an official partner trainer with Indy Fitness Magazine. Schedule a free coaching call with him by clicking below.