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manage stress

3 Ways To Manage Stress That Will Empower You

Getting Out Of Every Stressful Experience Healthy and Strong

As an athlete, I was taught to turn my stress into excitement. The jitters I felt before a big competition was “really just a case of butterflies” – my coaches would tell me. Thinking about butterflies was a joyful thing. All I had to do to win the competition in front of me, was to make those butterflies fly away; far away, so that I could focus on the task ahead.

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Often at the start gate, media would ask me if I was nervous. After all, sometimes my events would be televised in front of millions. Our team psychologist carefully instructed us never to admit to our nerves. We were coached to reply “No, I’m excited!” And to flash them a big smile.

manage stress

Why We Should Manage Stress 

Moving forward despite stress and living without it in the background will not only help us deal with problems better, it stops us from experiencing the harmful conditions linked to chronic stress, especially the following:

  • Unhealthy mind – insomnia, anxiety and depression can result from constant rumination on our problems
  • Muscle pain – under prolonged conditions, muscles constantly being tensed can lead to pain
  • Risk for cardiovascular disease – stress raises blood pressure and constricts blood vessels
  • Risk for obesity – unhealthy eating habits can manifest from constant stress
  • Risk for adrenal fatigue syndrome – after being worked too much, adrenal glands responsible for our stress response can get exhausted and cause a combination of the above

manage stress

1/Find Your Power Within

Why I was taught to turn stress into excitement is due to the little-known fact that our stress response depends on us. It’s our perception of an event that determines how we act under stress; it either makes us excited or afraid. And when it’s the latter, the body prepares us for action through the fight or flight mechanism that increases our heart rates, pumps up our muscles and quickens our breathing.

With that in mind, it is safe to say that we have the power to control our response to stress.

Tip: So instead of getting intimidated by the sudden physical changes you’re feeling, think of it as the body preparing you to overcome the challenge. This sends the message that you trust yourself, which can eventually lead to less anxiety and a more relaxed heart – much healthier responses! [1].

manage stress

2/Seek Comfort For Strength

You know how great you feel from a big hug? That’s the work of ‘oxytocin’ being released. Oxytocin is a hormone that influences our behavior and physiology from lactation to social bonding and sexual pleasure. And during times of stress, it works to help by driving us to seek support from those who care about us and share our feelings [1].

The more we seek for support, the more oxytocin is released. And this helps us physically recover as it relaxes blood vessels and protects the heart from the damages incurred due to stress [1]. What a great hormone to have!

3/Get Moving

To face and manage stress is an act of courage so you might still need to recharge after. Go for a hike with beautiful views or try our low impact exercises that still kick ass. Exercise boosts hormones that overall improve your sense of well-being.

On the other hand, if what’s been stressing you is the challenge of being healthy, we have different programs to kick start or boost your journey

manage stress

Turning It Around

All our lives we were made to believe that stress is the enemy. And it seems obviously so as we remember those sleepless nights, heart-pounding moments, and feelings of frustration under the experience.

But in this modern era, new discoveries and explorations are putting a twist in everything. Isn’t it awesome to know that instead of fighting stress, we can work our way out of it – in a healthy and empowering way? Stress is natural and can be used to our benefit. You have the power to change things for the better!



[1] McGonigal, K. (2013, June). Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

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Cat Smiley

Cat Smiley

Fitness Director at Whistler Fitness Vacations
Cat Smiley is a certified Life Coach, Master Trainer, Wilderness Guide and Sports Nutritionist (author of The Planet Friendly Diet). She has been named 3-time Canadian Trainer of the Year by the International Sports Science Association and is a former professional athlete. Follow her on Linkedin or Facebook - and of course, sign up for a fitness program with us to work with her in Whistler!
Cat Smiley
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