How To Relieve Stress: Practices, Techniques & SupplementsPosted by Josh Gape on
The harder you work out, the harder you need to work in.
This statement is applicable to not just training, but life in general.
Our culture fosters a sleep when you’re dead mentality but in reality optimisation is just as much about our ability to recover as it is to work hard.
“I’m just stressed”
This phrase is thrown about and overlooked way too much in modern society.
It’s become common place for an individual to recognise they’re feeling stressed, whilst simultaneously carrying on with the task or tasks that got them there in the first place.
Stress has been normalised to such an extent that it’s created the illusion that feeling this way the majority of the time is normal and not impactful to health or longevity.
However, if you actually take a second to think about this, it’s glaringly obvious that chronically feeling this way is going to be detrimental.
In our modern world, stressors are everywhere.
There are environmental stressors from air pollution, chemicals in the water we drink and on the food many of us consume.
There are mental stressors from work, relationships, the “news” etc.
The list goes on.
Regardless of the route of the stressor, if experienced chronically, they all move us away from internal harmony and create dis-ease within our bodies.
In a world where our stress bucket is constantly being topped up, it’s so vital to have practises to help us relax and unwind. Rest and recovery is key to getting the most out of your health and performance.
For us, the weekends are a massive opportunity to get into a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state for long periods.
This gives our bodies and minds time to reset and by Monday morning we feel fresh and inspired to dive into another big week of work, training and growth.
We use a variety of tools to help ourselves ‘flick the switch’ from work mode into rest:
- Getting out in nature
- Cold water (ideally out and about but showers work too)
- Turning off technology
- Deep Sleep
- Breathwork (see more about this below)
- Meditation (free stress relief meditation)
- CBD & Reishi
CBD & Reishi have become well known for their ability to enhance relaxation, deep sleep and recovery.
‘Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.’ - Paul Stamets
We like to mix both of these into a tea on the weekend or at the end of our work day to signal to our bodies that it’s time to start working in. Click here for Reishi + Matcha drink recipe.
Another supplement we love to use on those days when stress creeps up is CBD.
As humans, we contain a vast network of endocannabinoids known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), that plays an important role in helping us stay balanced regardless of what life throws at us.
The process of our endocannabinoids binding with the cannabinoid receptors within the ECS is what triggers changes to help us maintain a state of equilibrium. For example, if someone has high levels of stress, endocannabinoids can bind with cannabinoid receptors to produce a calming effect.
Although we produce endocannabinoids naturally within the body, we can also consume additional cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) by taking CBD.
If you want to find out more, click here to learn more about the effect, benefits and science behind using CBD oil.
Stress and the Gut
Following an IG Live conversation with @bouazizco about Gut Health (click here to watch) we discussed one of the main mistakes people make when it comes to Gut Health.... overlooking stress management.
The health and fitness industry put a load of emphasis on how important gut health is and rightly so.
The majority of our neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with happiness and pleasure are created in your guts.
Therefore logically your mental health will be majorly influenced by the physical well being of your gut microbiome.
Not only this but the gut plays a major role in immunity and digestion.
Due to high levels of stress and poor food quality in modern society, the symptoms associated with gut issues are becoming more and more common.
Brain fog, bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, skin issues... etc.
People are always talking about the the diet and foods to add or avoid when it comes to healing the gut but I don't often hear people talk about stress.
When we're stressed the tight junctions in our stomach wall become loose. If we have food in our system at this time, it can get through the stomach wall in a bigger format than we're designed for. Our body doesn't recognise the food in this larger form, which results in our immune system ramping up and causes major inflammation in the body.
One of our favourite ways to manage stress is through breath-work....
A full breath should start by filling up the lower abdomen and rise up through the body like a wave, filling two thirds of your stomach and one third of your chest.
A simple breath-work pattern, such as; 5 seconds in, hold for 5 seconds, out for 10 seconds, hold for 5 seconds - repeated for a 5-10 minute period has the ability to bring you into the present moment and drastically reduce stress levels.
Even one minute of this prior to each meal can drop you into parasympathetic state, join the tight junctions in your stomach and prevent gut issues from arising.
Also, as human beings we are intrinsically linked with the natural environment of the earth.
There isn’t a point at which it stops and the human body starts.
We are nature and nature is us ♾
If we look at the 2.5 million years humans have walked this earth as 24 hours on a clock face, it’s only in the last minute or so that we as a species haven’t been immersed in the environment our biology evolved to thrive in on a daily basis.
The last few hundred years have seen the masses transition into living in built up communities surrounded by concrete and the noise of cars driving by.
To counteract this and realign with our innate state, it’s important to make time to get out in nature whilst disconnecting from technology.
This makes a huge difference for us personally and that’s why we believe nature, among many of the other practices and supplements we've mentioned, is fundamental to optimal health and performance.
What are your favourite rituals for R&R? Let us know in the comments below.