Catherina McKiernan: Seize control and eliminate emotional stress
There are a myriad of reasons why running has become so popular over the past decade or two. It is a cheap sport to get involved in and, most importantly, it relieves stress and can make us feel good about ourselves.
If you lead a hectic and stressful life, running can be a real friend. Psychologically, running gives you a set amount of time to be alone with your thoughts.
While not all stress is necessarily bad, I believe to perform at your best in any sport or walk of life, you need to be free of stress and anxiety.
If you experience stress over a long period of time, it can interfere with your immune system, exposing you to increased levels of sickness. It can also have an effect on your digestive system.
Stress also affects how we sleep – the more stressed we are, the less quality sleep we are likely to get. This means your muscles don't recover as quickly as they should. If stress levels aren't addressed, you will eventually experience burn-out and injury.
As athletes, we tend to focus on the physical aspect of training, but it is by no means the only important aspect. In terms of wellbeing, we cannot achieve our full potential unless we learn how to de-stress. For example, if you have a really stressful day at work and are mentally and emotionally drained, it will seriously impact on how you feel. Emotional stress is one of the most significant causes of all chronic health. Your body pays a heavy psychological price for every moment you feel anxious, tense, frustrated and angry over a period of time.
We all want to get the benefit from our training, but emotional stress depletes the body and has a huge effect on how the body functions. You can all relate to feeling great some days on a run or a race and then other days, lacking energy.
The reason for this may be because you are anxious or stressed about something. We all find ourselves in such a situation from time to time, but it is how we deal with these problems that dictates our health and wellbeing. It is important to have strategies to overcome and be in control of everyday life challenges.
Here is my four-step plan to counteract stress in my life
1 Take a number of deep breaths to help you relax at regular intervals.
2 Put aside a little time every day and just sit and relax and think of the present moment.
3 Be honest about your feelings. Increase your awareness of what you are truly feeling. Write your thoughts from your mind and heart onto a piece of paper. Doing this on a regular basis can be very beneficial to your emotional health.
4 Make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need for a healthy nervous system.
Feeling emotionally balanced and at peace is what we all strive towards. Once we have peace of mind, everything else follows. Try to think of good things and remember the 'circumstances of your life tomorrow are moulded by your mental conduct of today.'
Health & Living