by Tony Gjokaj June 08, 2020 6 min read

The stress and stakes are usually higher for someone who is actively journeying to be greater.

While stress is needed for growth and transformation, too much of it could potentially be bad for your health - physical and mental.

In this article, I wanted to talk about practical ways of reducing excess stress.

Let's dive in!

About Stress

To start this section, I wanted to define stress before diving into an anecdotal example of excess stress.

According to examine, stress is defined as an excessive stimulation of the body's resources. As a result, negative symptoms like fatigue and depression occur.

Stress Impact

With that, I wanted to discuss the impact of high levels of stress by sharing a personal story.

I used to be a manager of four rental car branches that were simultaneously operated. We were down a manager, and our branch manager had to run business to business relations with the demanding body shops in the area.

Every 10-12 hour day was intense, stressful, and chaotic. Most of the time, I would start my day at 6:30 am, and not have lunch until 4 pm.

This occurred for about three months... but to be honest, I lost track of the days. Life just felt robotic - it felt like one long day.

This high-stress situation led to various issues that typically happen as a result of extreme stress. 

The following were a result of my high levels of stress:

  • Poor Cognition. I couldn't focus or think straight. This would make some of the branch operations struggle for a bit.
  • Poor Immune system. I got sick frequently during this time - despite my choice in proper nutrition.
  • Poor Sleep. I wasn't getting enough sleep to begin with.
  • Pain, Tightness, and Soreness. When I would work out, I wouldn't recover as quickly. This was due to sleep deprivation and stress.
  • Anxiety. Try sleeping thinking about how stressful the day will be, or how many hours of sleep you will be getting tonight.
  • Heart Problems. Poor sleep and lots of stress can lead to cardiac problems. I'm glad I was young.

While we performed extremely well (compared last year's numbers), we ran the risk of losing a few business partnerships because of our inability to communicate with our business partners.

We were reacting to whatever was thrown at us, rather than being in control.

It was a sh** show. I might have aged a few years because of it.

Now although your story may be a bit different, you may have felt the same.

Too much stress is a slow killer. It also holds you back from performing your best or being better.

Lifestyle Stress

My situation had various forms of stress: sleep deprivation, constantly working out, environmental stress, and other stresses (relationship challenges I did not talk about).

I wanted to give you a few examples of stress that you can acquire as a result of your lifestyle choices.

  • Poor Sleep. While stress may directly impact sleep, poor quality sleep also stresses your body.
  • Exercise Stress. You need stress to build muscle, strength, or power. However, too much of it can impact you negatively over time.
  • Dieting or Poor Diets. When you are dieting for fat loss, you're going to be more stressed as you are restricting energy in your body. In addition, lack of proper nutrition can also impact you negatively.
  • Environmental Stress. Whether it is at work, home, or elsewhere... an environment can impact your stress dramatically.
  • Other Stresses. Relationships, Financial problems, and more.

Remember that some stressors (like exercise) are not necessarily bad if they're in small amounts. Overexertion and overtraining do have more impact on fatigue, which is a form of stress.

Reducing Stress

In reducing stress, there are probably hundreds of ways to do so.

Each one of us may have hobbies or habits that we do to reduce stress, whether it is reading, meditation, spending time with pets, and more.

In this section, we will give you a few ways to reduce stress, along with strategies for these ways.

Physical Exercise

Exercise has always been my stress relief. While there are plenty of other ways to relieve stress, it's one of my preferred forms. According to the ADAA, cardiovascular exercise has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, improve mood, and more.

Start engaging in 30-45 minutes of exercise about 3-5 times a week. You're going to feel the stress-reducing benefits straight away. 

As the late Greg Plitt used to say (in regards to the muscular "pump"): "...it's one of the better highs in life. You don't need to shoot up for it. You don't need to snort it. All you gotta do is sweat for it."

Sleep

According to a survey done in 2013, stress increases have been reported as a result of decreased length and quality of sleep.

Sleeping 7-9 hours consistently will drastically reduce stress. Make sure you have a consistent sleep schedule, along with quality sleep practices.

If you sleep at a consistent time with ~8 hours of sleep daily, you should typically be in a good spot with sleep. If not, you can learn more about quality sleep practices by clicking below.

Proper Nutrition

According to UCLA Health, proper nutrition can play a huge impact on stress reduction. Consuming a diet with nutritious foods, complex carbs, and omega-3's will help you progress in the right direction.

As we also mentioned, a low-calorie diet or a diet of poor nutrition choices can bring added stress to your lifestyle. When low-calorie dieting, you want to make sure that you are prepared to be more stressed, lethargic, and more.

Mental Exercise

While we associate physical exercise as "exercise", we like to look at personal development, learning, and spiritual readings as mental exercise.

Mental Exercise (and productive habits) consist of the following:

  • Journaling. Whether it is planning out the day or personal writings, journaling is an excellent way to reduce stress. All it takes is 5 minutes.
  • Reading. Reading consistently, even if it's just a few pages per day has a positive impact on us mentally.
  • Personal Development.Learning new things daily has always been a way to reduce stress significantly.
  • Music and Sounds. Sometimes, all you need is to listen to 30 minutes of some focus music playlist on YouTube. 
  • Meditation or Reflection.10-15 minutes of meditation or reflection can make a big difference in stress. Remember that when we talk about meditation, we also mean spiritual exercises and even religious readings. Find the best channel that benefits you.
  • Eliminate Negative Environments. Eliminate any toxicity, whether it is from your inner circle or on social media. My Facebook used to be a toxic place until I muted the negativity and followed more positive content.

Lastly, I think it's important to understand that your environment can really impact your stress levels. If you're around positive people or a positive social media group, you're going to do better.

Too much negativity in your inner circle OR the content you consume can really impact your stress levels.

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are plants that provide a reduction to our levels of stress.

Plants like ashwagandha have been used for hundreds of years for their benefits. According to one study, ashwagandha was able to significantly reduce levels of stress. This included fatigue, cognitive impairment, and more.

Ashwagandha is only one example of adaptogens that are used for stress reduction. Other adaptogens that have stress reduction properties are Bacopa Monnieri, Rhodiola Rosea, Gotu Kola, and more.

Our latest supplement, Spark, is a nootropic formula that includes ashwagandha and various other adaptogens. You can get yours by clicking on the banner below.

Conclusion

Stress is a part of growth and transformation - a part of reforging yourself. However, too much can impact you negatively. Like the story from my previous job, I couldn't perform my best or think straight as a result of overworking myself. I felt like I aged ten years in the process.

My solution to reduce the stress was to move to another division of the company, where I took a pay cut for a few months. As a result, I was able to advance to a position with higher rewards. This allowed me to be one of the best performers for consecutive months - because that intense stress was no longer there.

Remember: you want to experience stress because it makes you better. However, you do not want to overwhelm yourself where it impedes growth, creativity, and effort.

I hope this brought you more perspective on stress. If you have any questions or anything you would like me to cover in the future, feel free to email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com.

Thank you for reading Reforged Legion! Until next time!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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