“Breathe, let go, and remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure”
Taking time out to relax is one of the most important yet undervalued things we never make time for. We think relaxation is something we’re going to fit in when we’ve done everything else, but unfortunately for many of us we never finish our to-do list.
A lot of us wake up fully stressed before the day has even started, continuously living in fight-or-flight mode. We are spending our days with cortisol levels elevated, and our sympathetic nervous systems activated.
Our bodies are designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive. It keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to the demands of life, but there are areas of our lives that can overburden us with stress. Your diet may be perfect for your body and you may be getting eight hours of deep sleep every night, but if hate your job, or you are in an unhealthy relationship, chances are your fight or flight reaction is still going to be activated far more often than is healthy for you. Remember, your body doesn’t make distinctions between physical, mental, or emotional stress. The stress to meet a deadline for a project you really dislike and running from a bear while you’re hiking will have the same effect on your body, triggering your fight or flight systems in exactly the same way at the physiological level of reality.
Stress is cumulative, so even several seemingly minor stresses can be significant. It all adds up….The brain responds to stress by quickly producing stress hormones, such as Cortisol, associated with a “fight or flight” reaction. If we don’t recover from this acute stress, they build up, causing health and performance to be impaired in all aspects of life. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body.
Chronic stress can lead to the following:
- Muscle and bone health (injuries, muscle imbalance, bone loss).
- Brain function (reduced memory, depression, anxiety).
- Poor Sleep (Stress impacts on your sleep and lack of sleep causes more stress).
- Blood sugar (hunger, cravings).
- Fat-burning (increased body fat, fatigue).
- Impaired Immune function (increased illness/disease).
- Sex hormones (menstrual irregularity, fertility, sexual impairment).
We, June and I, are all about simplicity. Less is more…. So our aim, with our coaching and all that we passionately pursue in our private life as well, is based on the 80/20 principle. We want you to chill out and relax… Reducing your stress levels will not only make you feel better right now, but will help you perform better when training or racing as well as protect your health long-term, so here are the tips we feel will benefit you the most as far as relaxation is concerned:
- Get outdoors as much as you can. Research has shown that time spent in nature with fresh air is associated with benefits to our physical and mental well-being.
- Intentionally schedule time for yourself every day. Whether that means sitting in a coffee shop, relaxing with a book, listening to some relaxing music, or taking a few minutes’ timeout several times throughout the day.
- Consider finding a relaxation activity you can regularly do such as yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation. These activities can provide an antidote to the stresses of modern life.
Try the following “Box” breathing exercise:
The Box breathing technique, is a simple technique that you can do at any time that you feel stressed. It is called box breathing because that’s an easy way to visualize the breathing technique. You are essentially breathing in a box shape by figuring each of the four seconds as one side of the box.
Basically it works like this:
- Breath in through your nose filling up your belly for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Repeat x 4
If you feel like your life is too busy to take these kinds of breaks, that’s a definite sign that you need it! We challenge you to try it for a few weeks and see how it makes you feel.