Pursuing ambitious career goals, building relationships, balancing finances, acquiring food, acquiring shelter, and all of the daily activities required for human survival are sympathetic activities.
These are stressors and can bump up levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
When we get wrapped up in these activities and let them dominate our life, it can result in:
- Poor blood sugar management and insulin resistance
- Depression, sleep disruption, and carbohydrate craving
- Decreased thyroid hormone output and a reduced metabolism
- Altered sex hormone activity
- Amino acid loss from muscle
If this is chronic, production of stress hormones can slow and the development of ongoing fatigue could occur. This type of fatigue is central, or neuromuscular. The body has been revving too high for too long and it’s shutting down.
Now, removing all stressors from life might sound appealing, but it isn’t a positive thing. Rather than eliminating stress, balancing stressful activities with relaxing and energising activities is the key.
Relaxing and energising activities are parasympathetic dominant. These include:
- Spa treatments
- Meaningful relationships/discussions
- Relaxing hobbies
- Drinking tea
- Warm baths
Meditation, yoga, pilates and tai chi can help to lower stress, improve oxygenation and stimulate recovery. They’ve been around for thousands of years because they work. Spa treatments, sauna time and baths can facilitate lymph circulation and recovery.
Sleep and meaningful relationships can also regulate our recovery. A restful sleep and a good laugh are like a carnival for energising and recovery hormones. And everyone likes the carnival.
Most people need 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night to perform their best. If your sleep has tanked, you may be overtraining.
One activity isn’t necessarily better than another; it’s more about what the specific activity does for you. Remember, the immune system is working overtime between exercise bouts as it tries to bring things back into balance. The least you can do is nudge it along.
Prioritising 30 minutes of parasympathetic activity each day is essential for productive recovery.
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