Chronic stress caused from overwork, worries about money and relationships, self-imposed perfectionism and outside pressure from work and family is common in America. Women in particular strive to meet the needs of others while neglecting their own wellbeing. When you become overly busy and stressed, you are quick to lay your personal self-care strategies aside in favor of meeting life’s demands. Skipping the gym, skimping on sleep, and denying yourself time to relax quickly lead to more stress. Your already limited sleep becomes disrupted, you begin to make costly mistakes, and you are irritable and cross with others.
Down in the Dumps
Unless you make a determined effort to disentangle yourself from your stressful lifestyle, you may begin the downward spiral into depression. Depression is a feeling of hopelessness and loss of control. You may feel that no matter how hard you work, you will never accomplish everything on your plate, much less have time for yourself. In an effort to keep going, you may seek medical intervention, hoping that sleeping pills and antidepressants will solve your problems. But the truth is that drugs only treat your symptoms, they don’t fix what is broken. Alcohol abuse is a common partner with stress and depression.
Eating Your Feelings
Weight gain is another symptom of chronic stress that can contribute to depression. The hormones your body releases during stressful times cause you to crave carbohydrates, and interfere with your ability to metabolize fat. Because carbohydrates cause the release of happy hormones, you may begin to use food as a way to feel better in the short run. It becomes a vicious cycle of eating, weight gain, depression and difficulty coping. Your relationships at home and at work may begin to suffer as you turn into a sad fat irritable version of yourself.
While it is difficult to pull out of a downward spiral of stress and depression, it is not impossible. Begin with small steps like taking a walk in the sunshine or getting a pedicure. Instead of exercising for an hour, try doing high intensity interval training for 20 minute sessions. Indulge in a hot bath before bed to promote relaxation and better sleep. Above all, take a good hard look at your life to sort out what is important, and eliminate activities that do not take you in the direction of your dreams. A lifestyle coach may be able to help you get a grip on your stressful lifestyle and remodel it into a healthier approach to living.
Understanding more about how stress and other factors affect health will help you become a better fitness practitioner. W.I.T.S. offers solutions to the problems posed by your clients. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching and Certified Personal Trainer are two online courses that will equip you to meet your clients’ needs head-on.