Stress from the holidays, work, family, and the negative effects on your health

So I may be relatively new to the world of fitness, but certainly not to the effects of stress on your health, particularly that related to the holidays, family, and work (which includes money). Most people in modern society have a level of stress from a myriad of sources that is simply unprecedented in recent history.

Family stresses can come from infighting, caregiving strain, divorce – especially its after-effects, and money, just to name a few. Although you could, theoretically, change jobs to alleviate work stress, there is no easy way to quit your family. Sometimes, however, you do have to separate yourself from toxic family members, if only for self-preservation.

While generally associated with younger people, social media stress is growing even among adults. It’s a tremendous “keeping up with the Joneses” effect that has manifested in virtually all age groups and demographics. The need to keep up and have and do and show off as much as the next guy on Facebook or Twitter has hit an insane level.

Stress and your workout.

The effects of stress on your workout routine can be seriously detrimental. It’s pretty tough to focus on going to the gym or getting on the bike when you feel like you have to be working all of the time, or taking care of an elderly or infirmed family member, getting holiday plans together, and so on. For me, it’s been two things – work and family. My father has been deteriorating so he is requiring more of my time. Add to that a large contract that has been cut recently but is likely to go away altogether, well before I was ready to supplement the loss with other work, and my stress level is at a peak. Maintaining my health is vital to my future, but paying the mortgage is vital to the present. And it’s not simply about money. We all have to feel valuable and productive – I have felt neither for some time. When you don’t feel valued or have lost a sense of purpose it piles on another layer of stress that’s tough to shake, mostly because it’s dependent on how you think others see you. Self-esteem and professional confidence suffer in a situation like this and you may feel powerless to change those feelings.

How to overcome.

Combatting all of this requires a massive level of focus and determination. If you can’t find it on your own, seek out a friend or colleague who may be going through a similar situation and partner up. Give each other some motivation and accountability, and I don’t mean in a competitive way. You should support each other and provide positive reinforcement, but be honest. If your partner is slacking, help them find motivation and focus again.

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