The entire world has been dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. We have been under lots of stress dealing with changes in our personal, work, and athletic lives. Everyone’s life has been affected one way or another and there is a lot of uncertainty in the future. Our lives have been put on hold and we don’t know when everything returns to normal. There aren’t races scheduled in the near future, gyms and parks are closed, and so is my favorite running place, the beach. I love running on the beach especially during sunset. It never gets old.
So what can we do to stay sane in this situation? What can we do to deal with stress and what is stress? It is our body’s response to the pressure from a situation or life event. When we encounter stress, our body produces stress hormones that trigger a “flight or fight “ response and activate our immune system. Sometimes this stress response can be beneficial. It can help us push through situations that can be intense, like running an Ultra, or giving speech to a large crowd. We can quickly return to a resting state without any negative effects on our health. Many people are able to deal with a certain level of stress without any lasting effects.
Sometimes stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, you may not realize these symptoms are caused by stress. Here are some signs that stress may be affecting you:
- frequent aches and pains
- lack of energy or focus
- upset stomach
- use of alcohol or drugs to relax
- weight loss or gain
When stressed people often experience headaches, nausea and indigestion. You may breathe more quickly, perspire more or suffer from various aches and pains. When what is stressing you is short lived you will quickly return to normal without any lasting effects. If you experience stress repeatedly, over a prolonged period of time, you may notice changes in sleep and eating, your memory may be affected, or you may feel less inclined to exercise.
There are few things we can do to manage stress:
Healthy diet –
Food is fuel that provides nutrients for our body and can effect our mood. Balanced nutrition, supplements and vitamins are very important especially for athletes who need to fuel daily workouts.
Physical activities provide natural mood boost through the production of endorphins. Our options are very limited and we have to make some adjustments to our workouts but we can still make it happen. Challenge yourself, set some goals, sign up for a virtual race to compete with others.
Sometimes it’s not easy to turn the switch off and do nothing and trust me, I’m the kind of person who has a hard time with that, but your body and mind will thank you when you do. If you can’t sit still like me you can do yoga, stretching, or get a massage. Finding a balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels.
Sleep is extremely important for performance, learning, development and physical and mental health. From an athletic perspective lack of sleep can cause reductions in performance, immune function and an increased susceptibility to injuries.
Don’t be hard on yourself-
Look for things in your life that are positive, notice improvements and be patient.
Be strong, take care of yourselves and stay healthy! I believe we will get through these challenging times and everything returns to normal soon.
by: Petra Blevins