The month of September means a lot to me and many people. Although summer is not technically over it does represent a big change for many people. The reason this is so is because for many people school starts. I’ll tell you a funny thing: I still feel the anxiety of the start of school and I’m 33 years old. The other night I was outside and it was very cool and breezy and I got that sad anxious feeling like school was just around the corner and the glorious summer was coming to an end. You might ask why I’m writing about this and here’s why: This time of year is a very stressful time of year due to the drastic changes in people’s lives and schedule. September also represents one of this nation’s worst nightmares: The attacks on the World Trade on September 11th. I remember last year feeling really depressed on 9/11 and thinking how I could break through this depression. To my surprise I just looked around and noticed that everyone was affected by this time of year. Sometimes we forget that we’re all connected to the universe and good times and bad affect everyone. When times of depression, profound changes and just very stressful situations hit us we really have to focus on doing what is essential to keep us as healthy as possible so we can better cope with these times. It’s is easy to slack up on taking care of yourself when your stress level is low but that’s not the case when your stress levels are high. My stress levels are really high in September due to coming off a great summer vacation and having to start teaching again (which is very stressful in the beginning), the depression of 9/11 and the change of seasons. If you experience this type of transition here are some tips to help you better cope with these times of high stress.
1. Make sure to get plenty of raw vegetables in your diet: I prefer to juice because I just don’t like to eat enough vegetables. Drinking them is much easier for me. My favorite drink is one of spinach, kale, parsley and green apple juice. Raw nutrients will provide you with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and a host of other nutrients your body can’t get anyplace else. Another important reason to get more raw vegetables in your diet is because our commercial meat supply doesn’t supply the optimal amount of nutrients it’s supposed to. There was a time when animals were fed their natural diets of grass etc… So when we ate these meats we were getting optimal nutrition. This is not the case anymore (unless you buy organic foods) so you must supplement a meat diet with more raw foods and vegetables.
2. Make sure to eat high quality foods like beef, chicken, eggs, fish etc… If possible these foods should be organic. The important factor in here is that these foods are high in protein and fat. These nutrients are important under high stress levels. Fats play a very important role in the production of hormones and are very important during times of heightened stress levels. An important point to remember is that high stress depletes your body of nutrients very quickly. And when your nutrient levels start to drop to far it’s a lot easier to get sick thus adding another stress to your system. So it is at these times that you must get quality nutrition more than any other time.
3. Drink plenty of clean water: stress also happens to increase the body’s waste products and plenty of water will help you to get rid of all this extra waste. A general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 200 pounds you will need 100 ounces a day.
4. Get to bed on time (before 11pm) and get plenty of sleep (between 6-9 hours). Having enough sleep allows your body to fully repair and recover from day to day. The reason I say try to get to sleep before 11pm is because between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am is when your body’s repair cycle are at optimal levels. If you miss these times by getting to bed at 12 or 1 am you will lose valuable repair time for yourself.
5. Exercise but you may want to put off the really tough workouts for a few weeks. Remember exercise is recognized as a stress to the body and since you’re already under heavy stress from the change of season it’s time to ease up a bit. Funny thing is that most people make the mistake of cranking up their exercise intensity during these times of high stress and wind up injuring themselves or getting sick.
6. Make sure to get organized and make yourself as comfortable as possible. Organize your life and surroundings so things like not finding your “whatever” doesn’t add unnecessary stress to your life.
7. Surround yourself with people that make you happy and support you. This is no time to be around people that will bring you down and add stress to your life. In fact it’s a good time to be around your friends and family.
8. Express yourself and find outlets to deal with stress: Talking to someone about how you feel during these tough times can make a big difference in how you feel. Talk to someone you can trust will listen and be supportive. Praying can also be very helpful or writing down your feelings in a journal. The key is getting those feelings out.
The truth is that there are many ways one can deal with very high stress levels and these are some ideas that have really helped me and the people I know. I hope they can help you or someone you know and as always I wish you the best in strength, happiness and health.
For over 12 years Virgil has helped numerous people from all walks of life reach their strength & health related goals. His career highlights include working as a strength & conditioning/baseball coach for the New York Mets Instructional Baseball Academy, serving as an assistant with the WNBA New York Liberty's strength & conditioning staff and creating the Ultimate Stair Exercises DVD set http://www.StairExercises.com which has sold in 6 countries. Currently Virgil continues to teach, train clients and is releasing a new DVD series entitled GetFit Anywhere http://www.GetFitAnywhere.net Subscribe to his free health & fitness journal at http://www.GivStrength.com