Sign of up-regulation and being hormonally stressed
I work with a lot of athletes and high performing people. I love being around them because it is infection how awesome and effective they are in their craft. Being around a high performance person is like scrolling through a motivational Instagram page x1000. It’s inspiring and challenging to keep up. It often relay in making me better.
But, being around high performing people often has a dark side. I see a lot of suffering, both overt and hidden. While it is valuable and good to have many accomplishments, we often forget that high performance often means adequate rest and recuperation.
The funny thing is, most people need to practice down-regulation techniques.
In athletics, we can spot talent easily. It is relatively easy for people to show up and smash in practice. But the athlete that is able to down-regulate in a high stress situation is the one that will be the super star. The one that can sprint and jump and race, but quickly return to normal breathing patterns and keep calm during a competition. THIS is what an athletic talent scout is really looking for.
There are a number of signs that you are over stressed. Being stressed is not a bad thing, but relying on constant external stimulus can rack our brains and adrenals. The inability to relax has many signs.
Anxiety and anger when not working out
Many athletes start to lose it when they cant workout. I actually think this is fairly normal. I know I get grumpy when I don't workout but I can easily channel my stress into other activities and opt of other forms of activity, like walking to my appointment or just getting a quick sprint in or two. This becomes a problem when you start having anxious behavior, guilty thoughts or anger when you cannot get your workout in on time.
Getting up multiple times a night to pee
This is a BIG hidden sign that you are unable to relax completely. If you are getting up more than once a night to urinate and never sleep a whole night through, this means your body is having trouble going into deep relaxed states and staying there.
Menstrual cycles are the gateway to a woman health. Irregular period is a sign that you need to change something or check out something - STAT. Either your diet, job, commute, relationship needs to change to get your hormones level and functioning in a regular pattern.
Unable to perform without an intense morning workout
Ah, the morning warrior. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand it is EXTREMELY healthy to get you morning workout in. On the other, if you feel you can never truly wake-up without killing yourself in the gym, this might be a sign that your body is relying too much on that hit of cortisol in the morning to get going. You training should be in cycles and change in difficulty over the week or weeks. It shouldn’t be a murder session first thing each morning. If you skipped a workout and still don't feel awake 3 or 4 hours after you wake, this might be the sign.
Don’t go out, inability to enjoy going out with friends
You love you friends and family but you just don't have the energy to go out and see them. This is something I see a lot of extremely competitive gyms. They love coming to the gym and work is pretty good, but they haven’t gone out and made an effort to hang with other in weeks or months. When your ability to rally, foster your relationships and enjoy yourself goes down the toilet, this is a big red stress flag.
Frequent or elongated sickness
Do you always get the sniffles? Does it take you longer than three weeks to get over a cold? You, my dear are overworked or stretched thin. This means that your stress levels are taking a big toll on your immune system and you need to address that or risk getting other, worst diseases.
Inability to sleep or rest when needed
Do you get sick and stay home to rest, but end up reorganizing the kitchen, watching TV restlessly or walking about. Are you unable to sit around for an afternoon without losing your mind? This is definite up regulation. You need to work on savoring moments of peace without thinking that you are being useless or bored.
Poor digestion or irritable bowels
If you frequently get bubble gut or IBS, this is a sign you need to make things right in your life. You are internalizing stress and swallowing it. Frequent gas, diarrhea and bloat are common but not normal.
Not being able to function without a cup of coffee within 20 minutes of waking
I know that this is the inspiration to many memes and t-shirts but filling you blood with a stimulant after it was deep resting minutes before is NOT a good way to start your morning. Your body's a complex machine and you should give it some time to boot up before you press the jet fuel button. This act alone messes with our self-regulating hormonal system. You should be trying to use that coffee for when you need a boost, not when you wake up.
Good news is there are many ways to handle all these problems. Most if it is the unsexy techniques of diet, exercise and figuring out where to say “no.”
But the real gold is doing the deep work such as healing trauma, making peace with peace and learning actual techniques for breathing and calming yourself. It all take practice and a high amount of self awareness.