What Stress are you Choosing to Experience?
Check this Health “Balance” Equation out (source):
Health “Balance” = Recovery - (Physical Stress + Psychological Stress)
= R - (E + S)
We all have the ability to control each of the variables in the Health “Balance” equation.
We all can choose to view and experience Stress in a more productive and even useful way in order to maintain Health “Balance.”
For Recovery (R), we can control how much and how well we sleep and eat (meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar) as well as engaging in other Specific Recovery Practices like massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, self-myofascial release, etc.
We can control how much and how often we choose to engage in Physical Stress (E), through how Intense it is (Power Output), how often in Frequency we’re experiencing it, and by the number of times we experience it, Volume. All those variables for Physical Stress are multiplied together to get R, which makes E very potent. You won’t need very much of it to cause an effect or result that you’re looking for.
We can also choose how much Psychological Stress we experience through Work, Family, Finances, Anxiety, Self-Esteem, etc. We always choose the reactions and actions we experience and take, respectively, depending on the situation. The more “negative” we perceive of the situation/stress, like for example, Financial stress, then we have a larger number to enter into the equation. The more we frame stressors in a more neutral way, that they are just as they are, and have a mature approach by thinking and pursuing solutions to the problems causing us psychological stress, then we get to decrease the effect, or the amount, of physical and psychological stress (S) we plug into the equation.
In all, we need to be able to make as many large deposits, or credits as possible, as written in the Whole9Life article, in our Recovery (R) bank, so that when we experience E and S, that we have the ability to come out net positive in the Health “Balance,” or at a net zero.
Using this following strategy or approach to the training (physical stress) we choose to experience, especially when doing constantly varied functional movements at high intensity with our community at the gym, we should be able to dampen the effect of S when playing around with E.
There are two kinds of stress we can play around with in training.
Eustress training means we set up all our conditions for the kind of result that we want, or the adaptations that we want to get after training (stressing our bodies physically). Conditions that we set up training well for include: sleeping and eating well/enough, and engaging in training that will allow us to recover easily.
Distress training means that we intentionally play around with one or more variables that would not normally lend well to the results that we want from the physical stress we put ourselves under. This would mean that we sleep only four hours instead of the eight hours that would normally help us recover and rebuild our bodies well. By only sleeping half as much, we might not be recovered as well, in addition to feeling tired. Having to take on training on half as much sleep is quite the task. Our ability to focus and execute technique while tired might not be all there. Our coordination might be off. We might not feel as fast or strong while training under Distress conditions of sleep.
Also, we can eat different kinds of food that we normally do not or would not, based on the kind of training we are doing. Generally, to power more high intensity efforts in training, carbohydrates should be our go to (depending on our goals). On those high intensity effort days, we can, instead of eating carbohydrates, eat little to none, or even eat fat instead, and conduct our training that way. We’ll get different results in training, or the stress we subject ourselves to and the response we experience from that will be different than if we had eaten carbohydrates. This would give us an experience or even a benchmark to look back on; the next time we’re not able to fuel ourselves properly for training, then we know how we are going to feel and perform under those Distress conditions.
With these two approaches to training, we highlight that we have to make our choice. We can choose to frame training as a series of experiments. If we did not get as much sleep or did not eat that well that day right before doing Fran even though we wanted to do the completely opposite, then we can frame that experience as an experiment in doing Fran in Distress conditions, to collect data on what it is like.
Instead of getting down on ourselves about “failing” to prepare for the test/training and giving ourselves unnecessary psychological stress about it, then we can immediately re-frame our minds to consider that it’ll be just another experience under Distress conditions.
A word of caution though: we should be operating and training in Eustress conditions for the majority of the time, because we can recover easier from them. We should be periodically and intentionally operating and training under Distress conditions, especially when training for competitions or tests. Usually our recovery under Distress training is not as optimal and quick. This brings up the reason why we should be heavily depositing more into the Recovery (R) bank account, in order to buffer against the times when we need/have to train under Distress conditions.
By approaching training and life from this more productive and pragmatic paradigm, then we can better able maintain Health “Balance” by limiting our psychological stress and response to the kind of physical stress we’re subjecting ourselves to.