Stress is defined by the Webster Online Dictionary as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and maybe a factor in disease causation; a state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existing equilibrium”. This definition is based from its use in the medical field as there are more definitions of the word as applied in other fields of endeavor. For the sake of this post, the stress I am describing is all about its application to the medical field as it is related to the human body.
One of the reasons why we should run or involve ourselves in any physical activity or exercise is to be able to relieve the stress brought about our daily lives or lifestyle. This means that the stress we are trying to relieve from our body system is something bad or not beneficial to our health and sound body.
On the other hand, we need stress or extra effort to our body system in order to be a better person or athlete or gain positive results in our improvement to a certain field of sports or physical activity. For example, if we want to have bigger muscles and well-toned body, we have to put some “stress” to our muscles by carrying heavy weights or lifting light weights in lots of sets or repetitions. If we want to be a faster sprinter or enduring long distance runner, we have to put more “stress” to our body by doing fast interval repetitions or tempo runs or LSDs so that our muscles, bones, and other body organs are conditioned to react if needed during races and other forms of competitions. In simple terms, this kind of stress is good for the body.
As for the stress we are trying to relieve from our body system through running, walking, cycling, swimming, and other forms of sports and physical activities, this kind of stress are the bad ones which should be removed immediately from our body system. If not, this kind of bad stress will greatly affect the proper functioning of our body organs and worst is that, it would ultimately cause our untimely death!
There had been so many surveys and scientific studies that show that the main cause of death of mankind in our present generation is STRESS. But such stress is the bad one!
For a person to have a positive attitude in life, he should be able to eliminate stress and have a healthy life. As for an athlete, whether you are an elite or average sports person, if he/she wants to improve and develop his/her potentials in a given or selected sports discipline, he/she should be able to eliminate stress in his body system. It is simply termed as “stress management”.
How do we manage stress? I mean, the “BAD” stress?
Following the suggested technique of Dr Phil Maffetone in managing bad stress to the body system, first, you should be able to identify and make a list of your “stressors” on a piece of paper and you can take your time in making such list. Maybe, thinking and writing such list within a period of 3-4 days or one week would be an ample time for you to have a complete/comprehensive one. From the master list of stressors, you may now categorize/classify them into two—stressors which you don’t have any control and stressors which you can have control.
Examples for stressors which you don’t have any control—traffic, weather, rains, flooding, criminality, terrorism, air quality and pollution, pressures related to work, paying of taxes, politics, national economy, family, accidents, deaths, and others!
Examples of stressors which you can have control—news, TV series/shows, debts, social activities, pressure/s from friends, extra-curricular activities not related to your sports or physical activity, eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, living beyond your means (shopping using your credit cards), higher bills (electricity, Internet access, telephone, water and other utilities), higher
costs of registration fees of road races & high costs of “bragging rights”, reacting to unruly drivers on the road, listening and reacting to “gossips”/blind items and other things.
Depending on your kind of work or profession, you have a better appreciation on your stressors, controllable or not. Make a honest list of your stressors and you’ll be surprised on how easily you’ll be able to find solution on how to eliminate such stressors.
You can’t do anything to stressors that you don’t have any control. Forget most of them and simply focus to your work which is the source of your income and livelihood. Your responsibility to your family is foremost and that’s the reason why you are working to have an income. If you have work-related stressors, then make another list of controllable and non-controllable ones, and start from there! Pay your taxes and live a simple life.
You will be surprised that if you are matured enough and have a good judgement on things that are happening around you, those stressors which you can have control can be easily eliminated by following the best option—IGNORE or say “NO”! On financial matters, it means, “cost-cutting” and simply living within your means!
For the past six weeks, I ignored reading the news, no watching of the TV, no shopping, refused invitations for running lectures, easily driving my car at 45KPH on the main streets (EDSA, The Fort, Buendia, Roxas, MOA vicinity, and others), listening to classical music and old songs (Beatles, Queen, Spiral Staircase, Montovani/Beethoven/Peter Nero/James Last, and Eagles but sometimes listening to Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars would be nice “extra” tunes to hear!), no blowing of horns, staying in one lane on busy roads and never competing for space/lane with taxis, trucks, and jeepneys, never “pissed off” by tricycles on the main
highway, no coffees and sodas to “spike” my calorie and carbo intake, simply no pressure on things that I do, just listen to “bad” news that happened to friends and relatives, no more “hot temper” moods but more on smiles and positive reaction on things…and regularly updating my status at Facebook!
Well, this is the life of a retiree and a long distance runner! As a Race Organizer and Director, I have also “stressors” but I will make a separate post on this matter on my Race Director’s Reports. (Note: Forget thinking of being a triathlete and finish an IRONMAN at the age of 60—that’s a lot of (bad) stress! Hopefully, I will be able to publish a separate post on this topic)
In summary, everybody can manage stress in their life. The lesser number of (bad) stressors, the better for you to develop your potentials in endurance sports or in any physical activity which will lead you to a better and healthier life. Manage your stress for a sound body and a sound mind!