Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sweat! Just don't sweat the small stuff!

By nature, I'm a worrier. Its not uncommon for me to take a very normal situation and just get myself all in knots over it; I have a red hot temper and I'm uber emotional. You wouldn't think that these personality characteristics would effect how my body builds muscle, would you? Well, it does!

In learning how to take care of my body, I learned that the physical aspect of it was just half the story. Sure, we need to work out, we need to eat good foods; but there is more! You need to make sure that you are emotionally healthy as well! This all makes perfect sense to me as an Early Childhood Educator, my entire educational approach is to support the "whole child" in all areas of development (social/emotional, physical and cognitive), so why didn't I realize that it doesn't stop at childhood, but extends into our lifelong development?

Let's talk about the "stress hormone". Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is often called the "stress hormone" because its levels rise following emotional and physical stress. This hormone is more than just a simple indicator of stress levels; it's also necessary for the functioning of almost every part of the human body. When we have excess of this catabolic hormone, our bodies actually begin to break down muscle protein.

Don't get me wrong, cortisol is an important hormone our body needs to protect and react to stressful situations (either good or bad stress), but having excess cortisol can actually keep you from developing the muscles you desire!

So what do we do?

1. Don't sweat the small stuff! Recognize your trigger stresses, fix them or move on. Are you spending too much time and putting too much value into something that's just not worth it?

2. Take breaks throughout the day to check your stress level. Take a walk; a step back or a breath.

3. Stretch. I have a few yoga poses that I can do in my office. Just breathing and stretching helps me get myself back in check.

4. Laugh. Call a friend to vent and laugh with or try and find the humor in the situation. A day without laughter is a day wasted!

5. Remember, you're only in control of yourself. No one has control over you. Take care of what is yours and the rest...just let it go. (that's a big one for me!)

I don't want you to think that I walk around like some Disney character with little squirrels dancing my woes away; stress is a very real part of our lives. I struggle to find balance as a mother, wife, business owner and woman. I'm just taking one day at a time and trying to recognize that I control my stress; it doesn't control me.

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