One of the most important factors in recovering well from workouts is managing stress levels. Most people encounter stressful situations on a daily basis that pose a challenge both mentally and physically. Avoiding stress all together is not a realistic strategy for most of us, so it is important to have strategies that help you return to your “equilibrium”.
Chronic stress results in the over-production of cortisol which will over time can result in symptoms such as the accumulation of excess fat in the abdomen area, poor digestion, and disrupted sleep patterns. Additionally, because both cortisol and androgenic hormones share the same precursor hormone in pregnenolone, the over-production of cortisol will leave less resources to produce androgenic hormones such as testosterone. This means that strength, recovery time, and sex drive will suffer.
Here are two of the strategies that I regularly use to help maintain balance mentally and physically and to have optimal recovery from training sessions.
Use Exercise as Meditation
I approach every training session as meditation. As I am going through the warm-up, my mind is gradually gearing down, shutting down my running thought processes and zoning in on the training session ahead. By the time I am in the middle of the workout, my mind is on autopilot mode and I simply let my body go to work. I listen and respond to my body. I take the time to appreciate how intricate and adaptable the human body is. I imagine all of the neurons firing with precision. It may sound peculiar, but being able to filter out all those extraneous mental processes during a training session allows me to have a highly focused and productive workout, as well as giving my mind a chance to rest and refresh itself. Being able to fully immerse yourself in a training session takes practice, but it will do wonders for emotional well being and it will take your training to the next level.
Dedicating a full or half day to rest and relaxation will help you regenerate from the week past and give you energy for the week ahead. Whatever your activity of choice is, make it something that you enjoy. Personally, one of my favorite activities is spending a few hours in a Russian style banya, or bath house, alternating between the saunas and the cold plunge. Not only is it mentally relaxing, but it also assists in detoxing the body. Studies have proven that sweating is an effective pathway for eliminating heavy metals and toxins such as BPA from the body. In fact, these toxins were found in greater concentrations in sweat than in urine, which disproves the opinion of “detox skeptics” who think that it is a myth that you can sweat out toxins. Just remember to rehydrate and replace electrolytes after extensive sweating. It is said that “A day in the banya is a day without aging.”