Stress. Unavoidable and sometimes unbearable. For an athlete, stress in small doses can help keep you motivated, alert, and gain a competitive edge. This kind of stress can trigger that fight response and give an athlete a laser focus helping them perform at an optimal level. However, too much stress can cause anxiety leading to poor performance and a drop in confidence, but can also come with some pretty serious health issues. Athletes chasing “the dream” can have a lot of stressors to deal with. Making money, training long hours, sponsors, recovery, feeding a family, paying bills, and so much more. While all of this is going on in their lives it is important to learn how to cope or manage the stress so that performance does not suffer.

Five Ways to Manage Stress

  1. Get Rid of Clutter

    Being in any space where there are more things than we can manage sends a visual message that life is out of control. For most people, disorder leads to procrastination which in turn becomes more disorder and more stress, a vicious cycle. Surround yourself with things you use, enjoy looking at, or help you become more efficient.

    General tips for getting rid of clutter:

    • Tackle one project/area at a time.
    • If it’s neither useful nor beautiful, get rid of it.
    • If you can’t “get rid of it” put it in a box labelled with an expiration date and if it is unopened by then, trash it or donate it.

    You’ll thank me when you have wake up to a clean, simple, and clutter free life!

  2. Have More Sex

    If you ever needed another reason to have sex, here it is! Experiences that provide pleasure have been shown to reduce the stress response. That post coital bliss is there for a reason. Sex boosts immunity, relieves pain, and will help you get a good night’s sleep. So, rather than choosing a side of fries, choose having sex with someone you love. Sex will build your relationship and keep that figure you work so hard for! Now let’s get in the mood and reduce some stress.

  3. Music

    Life is busy. Our minds are going all day long from task to task and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Music has a unique ability to link to our emotions and provide a distraction from life’s daily stressors. A good song choice can slow down your pulse and heart rate, even reduce blood pressure. Everyone has their own preference for what music they like to listen to but classical music has been researched as the most calming – give it a try!

    Easy ways to incorporate music in your life

    • Play music in your car
    • Put music on when bathing or showering
    • Listen to your iPod when walking the dog
    • Rather than watching TV try listening to some good tunes
    • Cook with music playing

  4. Enjoy Nature

    When it comes to alleviating stress there is something about being in our natural element that is hard to beat. When was the last time you genuinely took some time to enjoy the great outdoors? Let’s do it! Head outside and search for as much green as you can. Being surrounded by life in the form of nature has been shown to increase immunity, and reduce stress hormones. Go outside, smell the fresh air, listen to the world around you (birds, wind, leaves, etc.) and just enjoy being alive! This will help you put life’s stress into perspective and if even for 20 minutes distract you.

  5. Laugh

    Everyone knows negative thoughts or experiences can have negative impacts on the body. A good laugh can put any issue in a different light and completely turn those negative affects around. Laughing regularly can help to not take life too seriously and ease mental stress. Laughter helps you breathe in more oxygen and can in turn make the body function more efficiently! Don’t forget laughter also builds relationships, reduces tension, and can make you an overall happier and healthier person that people love to be around.

Take some time today and clean up, have sex, head outside, listen to music, and laugh!! You will be happier because of it!

(This post originally appeared on Barbell Shrugged)