Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't get stressed out by it all!

Bryce Lane put up a good article recently on stress and it made me think. Stress. It is all over the place. From work, relationships and often from our own personalities.

Stress is there especially for those of us involved in exercise or fitness training. We tend to set ourselves goals: I want to lose fat, run faster, get stronger, climb more munros...

These goals are not always bad. I think sometimes that without goals and aims I would just become literally aimless....I don't like people who go through life as spectators , tourists. I want to be doing something - walking, cycling, climbing, whatever. Not even anything massive, just something. Going through life as a spectator doesn't appeal....

However...all these goals can just be a source of extra stress. I want to climb all the munros eventually. But sometimes the desire to do that spoils the enjoyment of other things. If the weather or circumstance mean that a day in the hills doesn't happen for a while then I get seriously depressed.

Goals can be a stressor. This article indicates that stressing over goals can cause real health problems. It is pro-inflammatory. I've noted a couple of times that the mind is really important to training. This shows that the mind / attitude is really important to health.

We really do need to "chill" sometimes.

You've Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em: Goal Disengagement and Systemic Inflammation in Adolescence
Gregory E. Miller and Carsten Wrosch (View AbstractClose Abstract)

The notion that persistence is essential for success and happiness is deeply embedded in popular and scientific writings. However, when people are faced with situations in which they cannot realize a key life goal, the most adaptive response for mental and physical health may be to disengage from that goal. This project followed 90 adolescents over the course of 1 year. Capacities for managing unattainable goals were assessed at baseline, and concentrations of the inflammatory molecule C-reactive protein (CRP) were quantified at that time, as well as 6 and 12 months later. To the extent that subjects had difficulties disengaging from unattainable goals, they displayed increasing concentrations of CRP over the follow-up. This association was independent of potential confounds, including adiposity, smoking, and depression. Because excessive inflammation contributes to a variety of adverse medical outcomes, these findings suggest that in some contexts, persistence may actually undermine well-being and good health.

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