How Stress Can Sabotage Your Workout

Work challenges, family issues, budgets, and social obligations are all relatable stressors that connect us no matter our race, ethnicity, background, financial position, and lifestyle. It can be a challenge to manage all of our stress factors, but studies show that exercise is one of the most efficient ways to manage stress. It may seem like a good idea to sweat out your stress in the gym, but bringing too much stress to your workout session can have an adverse effect on your goals to decompress and get your body in optimal shape. Keep reading to learn how stress can sabotage your workout and the steps you can take to decrease the stress in your life. 

What are the negative effects of bringing stress to your workout session? 

When you work out, you put your body under a series of motions and activities that exert your body, both physically and mentally. Your primary aim in exercising is likely tied to a desire to train, develop and condition your body with the goal to improve your overall health. You may also want to use physical training to learn how to remain calm and manage life stress more efficiently. While your end goal may be filled with positive intentions, exerting your body is technically a form of stress. When you come to a workout session with the added weight of mental and emotional stress, you are creating a recipe for disaster that will eventually harm the body instead of helping the body. 

Mental and emotional stress can sometimes be unavoidable, but it is important to note that stress is supposed to be a short-lived emotion. We are not supposed to live in an extended state of stress. Just like you should never workout 24 hours a day, you should not live in a state of stress 24 hours a day either. You need to be able to effectively use cognitive functioning during your workout and recover post-workout to gain the full benefits of physical fitness. If you want simultaneously to take advantage of the mental and emotional health benefits of working out, do not bring added stress to your session.

How can you manage your stress before working out?

The Nesfield Performance Pillars are an excellent foundation for balancing and managing stress. If you can find balance and apply these five principles to your life, you can minimize stress and maximize your workout performance. Use these principles to de-stress and perform better in life:

Improve your mindset 

Your thought process, mood, value system, and behavioral patterns all impact your life and ability to manage stress. Examine your current mindset to move forward and create healthy habits that will help you to cultivate a positive growth mindset

Incorporate regular regeneration into your life

Have you ever gone into a workout session doing exercises you have done in the past but struggled to get through the workout? Have you lifted free weights using the same weight from last week but felt weaker than when you started? Workout performance struggles are usually the result of not giving your body a chance to recover fully. If you come into a workout after skipping meals, working long hours, and being stressed about a huge work assignment, you may not have it in you to work out at an optimal level. Regeneration is vital to self-healing, concentration, and focus, leading to optimal performance in the gym and life. Before you come into your workout session:

  • Get a great night’s sleep.
  • Eat a nutritious meal.
  • Calm yourself and leave your work where it is for a short period. 

Create good nutritional habits

Choosing the right foods for your body will not only give you fuel to maximize your workout, but some foods also help you to fight off stress regularly. Meal prep and take time to study the foods that work best for you so you can create long-lasting habits and eliminate stress on all fronts. 

Get physical

You are already on the right track if you are in the gym in an effort to reduce stress. We encourage you to work with professionals to not only get physically fit but to understand how your body moves. We learn how to move and function during our developmental years by watching those around us and being inquisitive about what every part of our body does. At some point, that process becomes subconscious, and we stop filtering out unnecessary information, which could lead to injuries and turn into bad habits and add additional stress, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Keep up with your routine check-ups and doctor’s appointments, and consider consulting with a personal trainer, chiropractor, and other related professionals who can help you to get physically fit and improve your balance and strength through greater body awareness. 

Enhance your lifestyle

Stress can indicate that your life may not entirely be where you want it to be, but applying these principles can help you decrease your stress and possibly identify components in your life that you need to evaluate or eliminate. 

As a performance coaching company, we understand that most of our stress comes from accomplishing some of our primary life goals. While we live in a culture that promotes having a solid work ethic and pushing yourself to the limit, there is a fine line between performing at an optimal level and adding unmanageable stress. Staying in shape and managing your stress will always be great ways to ensure that you do not fall on the wrong side of the line and give you a better chance to perform better in life. 


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