Hundreds of years ago, stress was only caused by the occasional threat of a large predator. In order to survive, we had to run, and run fast! Adrenaline kicked in: blood flow was pushed to our extremities, our heart beat faster, we took faster breaths, and our blood pressure rose. This enabled us to act quickly and get out of the immediate danger. Once safe, we went back to our normal calm state, and our stress response disappeared. When
stress used to be an actual “fight or flight” response, it was beneficial and necessary; but in our fast-paced world today our stress has unfortunately become constant and harmful.
Stress can be caused by everything from school deadlines, to personal relationships, to eating foods
that you are sensitive to, to exercise. Yes, exercise is a very large stress that we place on our bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE exercise, and in fact I often struggle taking a day off to rest. The benefits of exercise are plentiful, and most people don’t get enough, but some of us could benefit more from rest than from getting that 7th day of workouts in. It is important to think about it this way: when our body is stressed, the blood is concentrated in our extremities meaning that it is not in our stomach digesting our foods. When we don’t have the correct amount of food digestion, we can’t absorb ample nutrients to repair our broken down
muscles, tissues, and cells. This is definitely a problem if we are trying to get bigger, faster and stronger! Another problem with all of this is that since we don’t allow our body time to digest our food during the
day, it works in overdrive throughout the night to try and make up for the time lost throughout the day. Sleep is supposed to be a time for resting and rebuilding, however we aren’t allowing our body to truly rest when it is forced to digest our leftover foods from the day. Not only do we have trouble absorbing essential vitamins and minerals, fats, proteins and carbs, but we also slow down our metabolism, and often have trouble excreting our waste on a consistent basis. When waste builds up in our colon, it allows more opportunity for toxins to be reabsorbed into our bodies rather than being excreted. Sounds messy,
So how do we fix this vicious cycle… Well the first, and hopefully most obvious thing is to take a day once a week and rest. Really rest. Do some deep breathing, eat your meals slowly with people you enjoy, think about things other than exercise, and enjoy every minute of the calm state that you are in. If you feel sleepy, take a nap! Hopefully by the end of the day you’ll feel rested and rejuvenated, and ready to train hard the following week.