The importance of exposing yourself to stress voluntarily

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The mind leads and the body follows, the body achieves what the mind believes. Creating mental toughness is at the heart of training at #bobsgarage.
It is what drew me to Gym Jones and its what drew me to my mentor and coach Andy McKenzie. The phrase ‘The Mind is primary’ from Gym Jones centres around this and so does my training and the ethos of my gym #BOBSGARAGE.
Why is it important to voluntarily expose yourself to stress in the gym? Well sooner or later something is going to come nocking at your door and it will be right up in your face and you will have no choice but to face it you will have to deal with it and it will stress you the fuck out. It will range from losing your personal posessions, being confronted that your fat and overweight, a relationship ending or falling apart, monetary problems, your work getting busier and busier and asking more of you and the ‘work: life’ balance looking more like work:work:work, a death of a pet, a loved one or family member, the introduction of a new baby or child meaning more responsibilities to manage, being unsuccessful at work, accidents of all kinds, being robbed or other criminal behaviour that you have had to suffer.
My point is that your greatest challenge is yet to come and will put all the things you are stressing about now in perspective and in proportion and when you look at the bigger picture you will think Fuck why the hell was I even worrying about this or getting stressed, worked up or angry about it, think about this 5 years from now will this really matter?  No it wont perspective and perception are everything in life. Something that hurt you dearly 10 years ago will seam contrite and will mean little to you know and you will wonder why it ever hurt so much.
So why is it important to expose yourself to stressors voluntarily? Well when you face those situations that I have just listed  above and you will have to face at least 1 of these probably a year maybe more who knows, you can never really tell with life. But when you face it, its going to be hard, its going to hurt and it may even push you to breaking point or to maybe even you losing your mind, it will be right infront of you, and you will be unable to look away or hide from it, ofcourse you can try with some of them but a robbery say for example could be a life or death experience or worst case scenario a terrorist event. The stress will be there and you will fall to the level of your training, or you rise to the occasion that is a discussion for a later date.
There is a way we can make ourselves more mentally robust to deal with these problems we face in life and its through training and I am going to go onto to tell you how you can train it through the principal that is ‘the mind is primary’ I have been thinking about this topic for sometime and spurred on by the thoughts and writings by the coaches at Gym Jones. The main way in which I train this mental resilience is through getting up early most days, I get up between 4.30 and 5am 4 days a week and I coach 3 hours of classes in the morning train for 2hrs go home nap, eat work on my business and then coach 4hrs in the evening come home at 9.15pm and then go to bed at around 10-10.30 I tend to get around 6hrs of sleep and a 30minute nap in the day. I don’t complain I never have and I never will. I look for advice and support and help but I will never complain and I will never speak negatively of what I do. This in short has helped me develop a strong mental robustness. It is needed in dealing with tough customers, challenges with my business, facing failure in training, coaching, life and relationships and has generally been the bedrock in which I have built all my success. Let me stress it began with my introduction of CrossFit by the one and only Jonny Elliot. That man made me suffer.
How can you go about introducing stressors to your training? There are many ways if you are able to control your body and squat or deadlift or weightlift well then it can be done through progressive overload and challenging yourself with heavier loads. The sled is my favourite tool of choice but it could be done with hill sprints, burpees, a 2k row or 500m row, or 1000m row, pick a distance and just give it everything. On Saturday I introduced a different level of stressor, yes the workouts in our Fuck You Saturday were hard and it was long but there was also an element of planning and co ordination at the start, people had to work together at the start in order for the workout to be a success they had to work as a team they had to work together, at the start we could not see a way forward and a plan had to be formulated it was stressful but it also added to the positive effects of the workout it took people out of their comfort zones in a different way just like going up infront of a crowd would do the same or planning a solution to a problem.
For beginners You are rarely able to increase load or intensity instead you can take them out of their comfort zone by forcing them to think about what they are doing by forcing them to start being mindful about how they move and control their body by making them learn new movements, that in its self is stressful because at the start most people fail or don’t get the movement and take time to practice and learn and absorb new information and new ways of moving or doing something they had never though doing like weight lifting.
I was inspired to write this post because just now my main stressor is moving into my own flat for the first time , now it hasn’t started to stress me yet but that will come soon enough, but it has started stressing my mother, we were shopping today for the flat and in all of the madness she dropped her diary in a large department store, she was understandably distressed and it all happened because she was worrying about me and what I needed for my new flat and in all the commotion she dropped her diary that is pretty much her hard drive for her memory, I kicked into gear and went helping to look and gave the store manager all her details to phone us if it was handed in, she was distraught and lost after this event and when we got to the car she didn’t know how she was going to carry on through the week, low and behold a call from the store came in and it had been handed in. A wave of relief had been lifted and she felt elated. It could have been the other way round but thankfully wasn’t.
I am not saying for a second that a PT should put my mum on a rower and make her sick, infact if they did that I would fuck them up because I love my mum. She has been introduced to stressors in her life in different ways one was running a guest house for years until it very nearly ran her into the ground and the other is dealing with me and another her rheumatoid arthritis and her chronic pain in both hips and 1 knee before she got them replaced, and a bunch of other things, my mum is as strong as they come if not physically like me but definitely mentally, however she does get overwhelmed by things like me moving out.
There are many different ways you can get your body to get used to stressors one is cold water swimming or just cold showers or baths or exposure to cold temperatures or dealing with stressful situations, my favourite in the gym has been long endurance efforts like a half marathon row or ski erg or 2hr sled drag, looking at the higher intensity stuff 100 strict burpees or a good IWT or sled work squat breathing ladder if you like having sore legs for a week.
Expose yourself to stressors in your training or just life and you will be more mentally robust for what life will eventually thow at you and could mean the difference between you making it out of the black hole of what ever despair or depression or just fucking mess that your in and it swallowing you up whole.
The choice is yours.
The Mind is Primary.

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