Stress For Performance And Life

By Coach Manny Alayon

Before I begin, I am totally aware that stress isn’t as simple as I am about to make it. I want to keep things general and simple just to get some thoughts going. I know there are a dozen factors that contribute to stress and I am not talking about chronic stress and outliers. With that being said…

Our will to survive comes from our adaptation to stressors from the environment. In more primitive times, we relied heavily on our fight or flight responses. Those who endured and were battle tested are the reason why you are here reading this post. Even in present day, animals continue to evolve and thrive under primitive conditions. Society has changed that for the better in a lot of cases, however, we have found comfort in putting ourselves in as little stress as possible. We are taught that this is a good thing. But our history and science tells us that this societal theory is not all that correct.

We need stress in order to not only survive, but to thrive. Yes, even in the modern world we need stress to thrive! Without stress we lose drive and motivation for everything for just about anything you can imagine. Without stress our bodies actually lose the ability to live longer. This can be seen with the science behind fasting. In short, fasting helps organisms live longer by putting their cells and response systems in a situation where the only option is to use what is available in order to live for as long as possible. Cell age slows down and different mechanisms occur in order in the body and as a result you adapt. Humans are designed to survive and it is actually pretty damn cool. A more observable and common measure is the fact that overweight people do not live as long as non-overweight people. We literally die because of comfort. Our bodies simply never create the mechanisms for survival, since everything it needs is in abundance. We get out of bad situations because of stress. If the body cannot express this ability to survive under stress, then you can refer to Darwinism for the expected outcome.

You can also observe and experience how our bodies thrive under stress by how we improve our physical performance. Whether that improvement measure is strength, endurance or flexibility our bodies need to be under some sort of stress in order to improve. When was the last time you saw someone get stronger from lifting something that was easy for them? When was the last time you improved your mile without being out of breath?  No stress = no adaption = no improvement. It is really that simple. Physical stress takes many forms such as load (amount of weight), volume (how much time, reps and/sets) and frequency (how often). If you overload just one of these physical factors, you will see improvement. If you are not seeing physical improvement, think about if either load, volume or frequency are being stressed. As with everything there are outliers, like over-training, that do exist but to my goal is to keep this very general.

Stress is the key motivator for physical improvement, mental toughness, drive and simply a will to live. If you are not stressed, then you are not improving. Now I am not saying go and stress yourself out to the point of a mental breakdown or go and seek out chronic stress. Just look at stress as an opportunity for self improvement and not something as dreadful as society may tell you. We should fear being complacent, not being stressed. If we are not hungry (literally and figuratively), we are going down the path of complacency. And that is where we die. No motivation for improvement, no will to survive. Your mind and body know this. Stress comes in all forms and we shouldn’t fear it. Embrace the stress to be the best you.