PRACTICAL TIPS ON STRESS MANAGEMENT AND AN INTRO TO MEDITATION
I want to kick things off by welcoming you to 2019!
I’m not sure what happened to 2018 but it seemly passed in the blink of an eye and now we find ourselves in the New Year with an opportunity to push ourselves to be better than the last!
It was nearly 10 years ago I started my career as a personal trainer. 18 years young, overly enthusiastic to start whipping people into shape.
Initially I thought personal training was about torturing people or making sure they needed wheelchair assistance for the week after seeing me.
I was proud of HOW hard I could push people, I wanted to be known as the toughest trainer in town. If someone threw up I would wear it like a badge of honour. Sure my clients grew physically and mentally.
When you push yourself that hard you’re forced to make both psychological and physiological changes. Don’t get me wrong I’m not steering you away from hard work but rather trying to broaden your perspective to what’s truly involved living a healthy and fit life.
This brings me to the topic of today’s blog, if your eyes are at all open as a personal trainer you quickly realise writing nutrition plans and working people to the point of seeing the white light only brings so much change. There are layers of complexly that go beyond physical and the mind plays a pivotal role in your well being.
I have spent nearly 20,000 plus hours on a gym floor and a topic of conversation that perpetually re occurs is “Stress”.
“I feel stressed”
“I couldn’t sleep, I had too much on my mind”
“I ate so bad, I was feeling overwhelmed”
The drill sergeant in me wanted to tell them to suck it up, but over time it was a topic I couldn’t ignore.
It’s not a 6 pack, a personal best and better sculpted ass but rather something that’s visually transparent. It isn't a macro you can track in an app, it won’t be shown in a perfect angled selfie but it contributes to an overall sense of well being which is tied closely to your health.
We know stress can contribute to disease, lack of sleep, mood dysfunction, fat storage, muscle loss, poor immune function, sub par digestion and more so why don’t we take the steps to train our mind the way we train the rest of our body?
I’m not saying you’re going to completely cut out stress all together, that’s a stupid claim. Stress provides us with an opportunity to come back stronger in the right doses. I’m here to give you practical tips on what’s worked well for myself and clients to live a healthier life.
If the body is stressed the mind follow
Cutting out inflammatory foods, processed junk, soft drink, alcohol, sugar, energy drinks and all the garbage that can pose a physiological burden. What you put in your mouth has an impact on the way your mind functions.
It’s hard to produce those feel good neurotransmitters when the building blocks you put into your body are complete rubbish. Gut health also plays a huge role in stress and mood function. So step one, tidy up your diet! That being said, everything in moderation is fine.
asess your neurotransmitter health here
2. Manage your environment
Your environment shapes you, if you’re around 5 negative and stressed people you’re bound to be the 6th. I think this one is pretty simple, keep battery drainers away. You know the people who constantly complain, wear you down with negativity and shut down any ray of positivity you try putting out into the world. Surround yourself with supportive, upbeat people and watch the lens in the way which you view life completely change.
3. Limit your Social Media/Media time
Now the evidence is clear on the effects social media has on our sleep, self esteem, attention span, memory, depression and human connection. We evolve from small groups who had limited access to what was going on in the rest of the world.
We aren’t designed to digest 7 billion peoples problems. Flip on your late night news program and prepare yourself for a blast of deaths, global hostilities and maybe one positive story.
We are hyper connected in a diluted way, we see the highlight reel of peoples lives on social media and whether consciously or unconsciously we compare.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”.
Don’t get me wrong i’m no saint on social media, I like sharing the cool things I get up to, but like anything the global network of hyper connectivity can be used for good or bad.
4. Make time for self reflection
Sometimes stress shows up to teach us a lesson, reflecting on it and using it as a tool to grow can really help the way it affects us. Ask yourself the right questions to work your way through stressful situations. Reflect, grow and come out the other end a better person
Well documented in the scientific literature we know the positive impact exercise has on the brain, get moving for less stress and a better overall sense of well being.
Before I get into meditation im going to share a funny story about how I first started this transformative habit.
About 6 years ago, a yogi friend was trying to rope me in to coming to a mediation workshop and at the time I was more focused on banging heavy weights, sprinting and training 3 hours a day.
I didn't have any interest on spending time with dirt loving hippies to get in touch with my inner zen. Through some convincing I opened my mind and decided to attend this workshop.
I had no idea there was going to be ZERO talking, chanting and sitting cross legged on a hard wooden floor for 3 HOURS.
The first two hours, all I could think about was how weird this experience was and the agony my feet were in.
As the session progressed I started to feel this calmness drift over my mind, thoughts dilute into gently passing objects through my consciousness and by the time the 3 hours had finished I felt like I was floating on a cloud.
I was hooked!
Over the past 6 years I have taken a very westernised approach to my meditation. Practical and pragmatic with a bit of tech. This is far reaching from the origins of meditation but has suited myself and clients. No need for month long fasts and vows of silence. Rather an easy to implement approach to manage the day to day stress of busy life.
Check out my 2 minute meditation below
I’ll keep this simple, the best gateway drugs for mediation are through the apps CALM and HEADSPACE. They are an outstanding tool that can be used 5 minutes, twice daily for more peaceful and relaxed life.
Well i’m sure I have bored you all by now, so i'll have to continue the rest in a part 2 series. Who am I kidding… I know the only person who reads this is my mom lol.
If you’ve taken anything away from this article I hope you leave with a fundamental understanding that the mind and body should not be trained in a dualistic, separate approach but rather holistically.
Oh boy, not to be cynical but I dislike the overused term “holistic”, t’s the word you see in the instagram bio of the person whos done a week of yoga and a two day juice detox. Anyways I digress, I hope you had a practical takeaway that will boost the quality of your life!
Hope you have an AMAZING 2019!