Dealing With Stress As An Athlete
I am finally getting to the list of post requests that I received over the summer. I was asked about my daily routine and how I handle stress as an athlete and juggle training, work and life.
So first, let’s start with my daily routine. Right now, I’m in my off season and it is about the most stress-free (training wise) that I have all year, but I often encounter an increase in stress at work. Balance, right?
I wake up at 4:15 AM. I head to the gym and work out for an hour. I return home and shower. I grab breakfast on the way out the door and eat in car on the way to the office (often a smoothie or hard boiled eggs). Work starts at 8 AM and I walk into a day of meetings, last minute requests and tight timelines. (I do love my job, by the way). I eat lunch at my desk (often in about 5 minutes) and lately I have been staying at work until about 7-8 PM, but if I have plans, I leave at around 5, go to say, a holiday event and return home around 8 or 9. I prep my lunch and gym bag for the next day and start all over again.
That will change a bit in the summer when I replace some working hours with training hours as I move to twice a day workouts, but I understand that I live at a pretty high stress cadence of life. If I wouldn’t have a job, I would train too much and if I wouldn’t train, I would work too much. I thrive on being busy and say I operate best in the state that is just next to overwhelm, but I am very aware of the toll it can take if I am not careful. Here are some of the things I do to ensure my energy is high, my eyes are bright and I am feeling energised and not exhausted by life:
Focus on sleep
I am not a big TV watcher so often when I head to bed (I try to get there anywhere between 8-10 PM depending on what my evening looks like), I will read. I have a goal on reading at least 10 pages every day. Once I am asleep, I sleep like the dead and I find I am waking up feeling rested and excited for my morning workouts.
Stress increases cortisol. I am not going into the science on why that is bad, but if you are curious, I googled it for you here. I focus on reducing inflammatory foods always, but it is even easier in the off season. I always do a cleanse of sorts (details in another post) but lots of protein, veggies and healthy fats at in my daily diet.
I’ll cover a few other supplements I take in another post, but the supplement I take directly for life stress is called Orotho Adapt by AOR. I got mine from Goodness Me! – one of my long time partners and favourite health food store.
I am a big believer in never talking about a product unless I have truly tried it. I have been testing the product out since August which ended up being an ideal testing time for me because it landed right over my adventure racing season, which, it turns out, is a pretty stressful time. I have continued using it through till now.
Ortho Adapt is a blend of adaptogens that are used in herbal medicine to improve performance after periods of mental and physical stress. The medical ingredients are porcine adrenal gland cortex, vitamin C, Panthothenic acid, licorice extract, siberian ginseng extract, rhodiola rosea extract and ashwagandha extract.
It is recommended to take 2-4 capsules every day after a meal so I take it with breakfast every morning. I find it to be an important and healthy support to my immune system.
Every Sunday night, I sit down with my physical schedule, my phone schedule and my list of tasks and objectives for the week for training, work and social. I literally schedule everything in – my bedtime, the travel time between events (I HATE BEING LATE), a buffer between meetings, when I am going to finish a project, when I am going to answer emails. I have a list of people who my priority and I schedule them in. (Mark, Family, Best Friends).
I realise this is super type A, but I love my life and nothing I do is an accident. If I meet with you, it is because you are important to me and when I am with you, I will be all there. I find that if I don’t schedule things, I won’t know when I am getting things done and then when I am with people, I am thinking about what I need to do and where I need to be. As a courtesy for me and for you, I figure that out in advance so I won’t need to worry about that when we are together. This is another crucial element that keeps me calm and unruffled when I have a lot going on. I KNOW I can get everything done and when someone drops a new task on my plate, I can give a realistic timeline for when I can get it back.
So I work really hard. I schedule a lot of things. But one of the things I schedule for is nothing in the schedule at all. I need time to just think or play or laugh really hard. I learned a long time ago that every day, I need at least 30 minutes where some of the time is all about me and I can do whatever I want.
So that covers off handling stress as an athlete but if you have any more posts you want to see, send them my way and I am happy to post on them…as soon as I can get them in the schedule. 😉