From GORUCK Nation: Physical Training as Stress Relief

Each day, my feelings change on the pandemic – what I should be doing, how I can help in the overall effort and for people nearby and most of all, how I can care for my family. I find myself mentally and emotionally drained in ways I haven’t quite experienced before and I know I must identify ways to stay strong and capable.

For me, I turn to what I’ve long turned to for stress relief – physical training. GORUCK’s #KeepTraining has been encouraging and inspirational for me. Even though I ramped up training, rather than consider letting go of it when our isolation and social distancing began, a simple hashtag is a constant reminder of solidarity. Over the past several days, I’ve identified five strategies for success in my effort to further my gains as well as being a better human in times of high alert and fear.

1. Leave your gear in a visible place or Spruce up your Home Gym

All that food you bought is probably within your sights often. Use your gear as visual reminders too. Leave your ruck in a kitchen chair or near the TV as a reminder to train. If you have a dedicated home workout space, spend some time cleaning or straightening it up. My workout room is transitioning from a little-used workshop to home gym so there’s a lot to clean out, including a second refrigerator and a large workbench. I don’t have anywhere to move those to immediately so I’ve reorganized, installed some hooks for my gear and hung some flags. Even those simple changes help me push harder to combat the stress of self-isolation.

2. Plan to Train

Many of us have kids at home now. Whether young or grown, our kids have our attention. The challenges of managing our own emotions right now is daunting at times. Balancing those of several people?? I don’t know about you but I feel like I’m walking a tightrope in high winds. I’ve established a habit of taking a morning poll to see what everyone’s needs are and what each would like to accomplish during the day. This allows for changing moods and attitudes without conflict and it allows me to purpose a part of my day for training. I’ve found that my kids are even encouraging me to escape to my little home gym more than ever before.

3. Find a Battle Buddy

Actually, let me amend that. How about offer to BE a battle buddy? Our individual worlds are suddenly limited, largely, to the confines of our homes. We are very truly in this together. Many of us are posting how we’re doing and feeling, struggling and coping. Is there someone whose posts you see and you feel strong empathy for…whose words strike you deeply? Reach out and ask if you can offer encouragement or accountability for her in her training. We’ve all got a lot coming at us but who couldn’t use a bright ‘go you!’ a time or two each week? Being noticed feels great. So does giving.

4. Plan Your Sleep Hours

Sleep is life, y’all. There’s nothing better to combat stress, keep you healthy or aid you in reaching your goals than adequate, quality sleep. In my house, we are now writing out and sharing daily schedules to keep our days from slipping away on Netflix or TikTok. It’s perfectly fine with me that my grown kids don’t go to bed at the same time. But as for me, I crave the healing and metabolic power of 7-8 hours of sleep. Again, speaking my plans aloud for this, even writing them down, enables my family to encourage me in staying healthy. If you’re a napper, a 20-30 minute nap can be an effective tool in your gearbox. Conversely, something that works against quality sleep is alcohol consumption. It’s tempting to use alcohol to relax our minds in these trying time and give careful consideration to even short-term sobriety. Just one alcohol-free week can be eye-opening in terms of how you feel physically and mentally.

5. Download a Calorie-Counting or Fitness Tracking App
Like most anyone, if I’m home and unfocused, it’s all too easy to snack mindlessly. There’s an acronym from the therapy world which can be applied to overeating or so-called emotional eating. It’s “HALT B.” Those stand for hungry, angry, lonely, tired and bored. Anytime I’m tempted to snack (or turn to other coping mechanisms), I mentally run through that list. Do I actually need food or am I just feeling something I don’t want to feel? I don’t normally count calories but as soon as it looked like we were going to be home for a while, I downloaded MyFitness Pal again and signed into my account. I’m working too hard toward goals both short- and long-term to mindlessly eat my way out of success. I haven’t felt deprived or not indulged in the yummy homemade treats one of my daughters loves to make. Rather, I watch portions and/or put in some extra miles for adequate calorie burn. Not a calorie counter? Maybe just your daily workouts or step goals met motivates you to eat better. The point is, tracking helps you focus on something positive in the midst of all of this monotony.
These ideas may not apply to or be effective for everyone. Perhaps, though, they can be a springboard for your own strategies for successful training in uncertain times. I can attest to the fact that my efforts to keep training over the last week have not only kept me on track toward my goals but I emerge from each workout a little stronger mentally and emotionally. Much of that is needed to make it through these long and difficult days.

Be well, everyone. Your struggles are valid and your well-being is worth the fight.

About the Author

Renée works as an office manager for a Nashville-based fiber optics firm. A founding leader of Nashville Rucking Crew, she considers rucking, burpees and bear crawls the cure for many of life’s ills.

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