We all know that feeling when you are just stressing out about the most useless things. No matter if you are an athlete, mum with young kids or a businessman, this guide will sort you out.
Would it not be nice to go smooth and relaxed through each day without even the slightest perception of stress?
There are three things you need to know to get closer to a balanced lifestyle:
Stress is always subjective. Stimulus -> Response (I will explain below)
You do not have to do anything if you do not want to
Lowest hanging fruits first (Drink, eat, sleep)
Stimulus and response:
The author Stephen R. Covey told me about this method in his book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” (which I highly recommend). He starts out with a story of a jewish man who was tortured over months in one of the concentration camps, being completely naked not knowing if he would get killed the very next day. That man experienced a great revelation when he decided that the stimulus (being tortured and captured naked) does not have to lead to the response of feeling scared, sad, depressive and down. By realizing that man has always freedom to choose after the stimulus and thereby creating his own response to it. That tortured man became an inspiration to people around him, even some guards by helping them find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence. If that man can handle this incredible situation and change it to the better, we should be able to feel completely stress free any day of the year, don’t you think?
So, to sum this up:
Between each stimulus you experience (it may be a long day at work or whatever tends to stress you out) and the response of getting stressed about that fact, there is always FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.
You decide how you react to this stimulus.
The freedom to choose is based on self-awareness and an independent will (plus imagination and conscience, see book page 79). Once you become consciously aware of the stimulus, you can control how you react to it. Simple example for triathletes: You finished a long day of work and dread the swim workout since you are tired and it is tough set. Then you enter the pool and see that all swim lanes are completely packed with people. Obvious response would be to get annoyed about it, somehow push through that shitty swim and get it done and leave that place as soon as possible. Then you consciously chose to be that way. I am quite sure this will not result in a positive experience or any fun (know what I am talking about). Many times when I go to the pool, I am self-aware that it will probably be full of people and no matter how it will actually be I am telling myself to stay completely calm and relaxed regardless. If its full, its full and I will do the best of that workout, if it is not full, well, great surprise. There is no situation that will affect my workout negatively, I will make the best out of that situation. Always ask yourself that simple objective question in your head “what is the benefit of my behaviour right now?”. If it is not helping me in any positive way, I will do my best to ditch it right away. If you cannot, you might need more practice or read 3) carefully, since that may be underlying reason.
You do no have to do anything if you do not want to
Yes, yes we all like to complain of how tough our life is because we have to get up early for work and then do that workout or prepare this and that for the next day. No, you do not have to do anything really. Who is focing you to get up in the morning? Nobody. You could just sleep in every day and not go to work. Of course, you will have to deal with the consequences of that decision, but you do not have to do anything. Do not feel captured by whatever you are doing right now. If you do not like your life, stop complaining and take the steering wheel in your own hands.
Look for something that fulfills you.
Society tells us all these things we have to do. Go to school, study, work 9-5, buy a house, make a family and then die. If you do not like any part of that journey, then change it. If my mind starts to drift into a negative state I first reboot my system and make a quick reality check. “I m so tired I do not want to work now” – “ohh no then I have to get up really early to get that workout in before work and all” – STOP. Reset. It’s a privilege to have a job in order to finance all the things you love to do in your free time. Same with the sport, once you have been properly injured for longer you wish you could set your alarm to 5am to get up and run. Become aware of your situation and be grateful.
Lowest hanging fruits first
Niyi Sobo helped me to a great extend with this one. Around a year ago I had really low mood for 2-3 hours, 2-3 times a week for no apparent reason. I was aware that everything is fine and I have no reason to complain, nonetheless I was feeling horrible for that duration, unable to get myself out of that state with my mind. Ha, there is the solution. It was not the mind but actually a physical response to the wrong food combined with tiredness.
Whenever you are having low mood or tiredness I want you to repeat this sentence as soon as possible. This has to be your immediate and habitual response to any low mood feeling:
“Lowest hanging fruits first”
What that means is, that you need to look for the lowest hanging fruits (most accessible and easiest to find) first.
Drink. Did you drink at least two liters of fluid (not coffee or others) today?
Eat. Did you eat enough? Did you eat a lot of sugar? (which causes a dramatic insulin response and drop in mood after intake) Did you eat balanced and high quality foods? (enough protein, carbs and healthy fats) Are you allergic to certain foods? (try eliminating milk products for a week and see how you feel. Try eating meat only once a week and see how you feel, eat other sources of high quality protein such as eggs, fish, lentils, chick peas, cottage cheese etc.)
Sleep. Did you sleep enough? (at least 7 hours, highly subjective but normally athletes need 8hours+) Ditch Netflix and just head to bed if you want or not, otherwise you might have low mood throughout the whole next day, have fun. Did you sleep well? (good quality or waking up a lot etc.)
Once I got this sentence into my head and started scanning for an eventual deficit of any of those points, I did not have these low mood sessions anymore. In fact, despite training more, harder than ever combined with a physical and mentally taxing job (16-18 patients a day) as well as balancing girlfriend, family and friends I feel more balanced than ever. I have no reason to complain, since I know I steer my own ship and do not have to do anything I am doing right now. Nobody forces me to do anything. My personal relationships are great and I love my sport more than ever.
Do not let anything stop you from becoming the unstoppable you,
All the best,