In fact I’ve written about rest and recovery before here. Feel free to check that post out.

Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Most peoples stressors tend to be external, such as your job, relationships, paying bills, traffic, or any other stressor that kicks in your sympathetic nervous system, such as training.

One thing to understand about stress is the role that brain function plays. Keeping it simple you can categorize brain function into two categories. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for intense physical activity and is often referred to as the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system has almost the exact opposite effect and relaxes the body and inhibits or slows many high energy functions, it’s often referred to as the rest and digest response.

Stress can also influence sleep, food intake, weight gain and weight loss. Various randomized controlled weight loss trials confirm that high stress levels can hinder successful weight loss efforts and any improvements in health. It’s thought, and some evidence suggests, that by improving your nutritional status and sleep patterns that you may be able to reduce the severity of stress and other mental health disorders. [1]

With regards to nutrition there are a number of cross-sectional observational studies that have linked the deficiency of certain B vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and omega 3’s to increased levels of mental stress. [2,3]

As well as maintaining a healthy and varied diet to try to negate any vitamin and mineral deficiencies, time also needs to be spent on promoting rest and recovery. But how to we go about that?

In my opinion it’s about balance. I don’t know anyone who is totally stress free, and I actually think that a little stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we want to try to engage in activities that promote the use of our parasympathetic nervous system.

Think yoga, pilates, meditation, reading, anything that helps you achieve a relaxed state. I tend to use stretching at the end of my training as an opportunity to zone out and relax the mind. But the truth is that the activity you choose really doesn’t matter, it’s the state that you achieve that matters.

Take Lego for instance. I’m 40 this year, but I can quite happily sit there putting together a technic lego set. It’s just another way for me to switch off from worries about clients and work. It’s an activity that works for me, and besides you’re never too old to enjoy lego.

In summary, choose activites that can help you get 30-60 minutes of daily quiet, relaxing, worry free, parasympathetic activity. It really will help you get control of your stress levels.

P.S Don’t waste any money on supplements that supposedly reduce stress, they will just reduce the amount of money in your bank account. No supplement will tackle lifestyle related stress problems. Instead consume a healthy, balanced and varied diet.
P.P.S If your job is the issue causing you endless amounts of stress and worry a sure fire way to lower your stress short-term is to quit.


1. N. R. W. Geiker, A. Astrup, M. F. Hjorth, A. Sjödin, L. Pijls and C. Rob Markus. Does stress influence sleep patterns, food intake, weight gain, abdominal obesity and weight loss interventions and vice versa? Obesity Reviews 19, 81–97, January 2018.
2. Lim SY, Kim EJ, Kim A, Lee HJ, Choi HJ, Yang SJ. Nutritional factors affecting mental health. Clin Nutr Res 2016; 5: 143–152.
3. Bodnar LM, Wisner KL. Nutrition and depression: implications for improving mental health among childbearing-aged women. Biol Psychiatry 2005; 58: 679–685.

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