Karl Henry's 10 tips to manage stress
Sometimes life throws you a curveball, prompting you to veer off track with your health and fitness regimes. But it's vital you keep your eye on the prize
Over the past 16 weeks I have been in the process of selling my apartment and buying a new house. One word can describe this process: stressful. In fact, I can without doubt say that it has been the most stressful time of my life.
Between all the different parties involved, chasing people for answers and the overall lack of control, my training and eating has been totally disorganised, along with poor sleep and busy working hours too. But the good news is that we are there, over the line as of last Monday.
What the whole process did do, was give me a huge insight into the effect of stress on the mind and the body, on training and on life in general. I love to learn from any situation that I put myself in and this was no different. It gave me a much better understanding of why people struggle with their health and fitness goals when under serious pressure. I know I did - I put on weight and my marathon training got put on the back burner. For today's column, I thought I'd compile my top 10 list for how to manage that stress better, how to do your very best to stay on track and stay healthy, no matter what life throws at you.
1. Don't beat yourself up: Sometimes in life things get in the way of your training. If you continue to beat yourself up over it, it will only stress you out even more. Just accept that you can only do your best and that you will be able to get back on track in time.
2. Set smaller goals: Big goals are great but if you're stuck for time, it's going to be harder to hit them, so why not break it down to smaller, more achievable ones, that you can do, no matter how small you will get so much motivation from hitting them?
3. You will always feel better after exercise: Even when it is the very last thing you feel like doing, movement, intense movement ideally, will make you feel better. Endorphins - which are one of most effective feel-good factors that you can get - are produced when you exercise.
4. Talk about it: Stress can affect your mood, especially when you hold it in. Simply talking about what and how you are feeling can make a big difference. Men are especially bad at doing this, yet it can make such a difference to how you feel and how you handle the pressure of the situation.
5. Keep eating real food: It's often so much easier to rely on convenience foods when you are busy, but these foods won't supply you with the nutrients you need. As much as you can, eat real food that you cook yourself. It is far healthier and better for you.
6. Get colour onto your plate: No matter what time you eat or what you are eating, aim to get as much colour onto your plate as you can. Foods with colour are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that will help your body to manage the effects of stress better.
7. Keep your eyes on the prize: No matter how stressed you get, just keep your goal in mind and work towards it. As always, it's crucial to have a reward in place for when you hit it so that you can enjoy the moment when it's done.
8. Keep measuring: I'm a firm believer in the fact that we have to measure some health markers to stay healthy for life. Even when you are stressed it's so important to keep measuring. Consistency is key no matter what, so don't let it slip.
9. Read to get better sleep: Books are a great way to help you sleep better. Ideally before you go to bed, you should stop looking at any screens at least 30 minutes before hand due to the light emitted from the screens. Reading can provide an easy way to wean yourself off phones and TV screens before bed.
10. Write it down and map it out: We all work better when we have plans in place. No matter what your problem is, you will always feel better when it's mapped out in front of you. Get a blank page and get writing and organising everything into a plan. Keep that plan visible and tick the boxes as you go along. You will be amazed at how much better you feel.