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October 2, 2023

Don't Stress Out!

Recently, in our private Facebook group, I asked, “I am writing blog posts; what do you guys want to hear about?”

One suggestion was “how to handle stress when you just can’t get rid of it.”

I thought this was a great suggestion, as the vast majority of Americans report they experience stress. This number has skyrocketed since the pandemic and some reports are as high as 95%!

Stress is definitely something I’ve struggled with (I’m writing this on a disaster of a Monday morning, actually). But I have pretty successfully gotten a handle on it this year. I was feeling the stress of being busy and “on” for most of the day. I pop out of bed at 3 AM and immediately get to work - believe it or not, I get my best work of the day done at this time. I bounce back and forth between running Vero Strength + Conditioning and Cerus Performance and there’s always something to get done. Earlier this year, I found myself tired but wired, and honestly, I could be a little irritable.

Below, I will outline some of the changes I’ve made. Everyone’s source of stress is different. People struggle with work, kids, money, relationships, trauma, or all of the above! But, I hope that just one thing I highlight helps you if you are struggling.


A huge stress reliever for me was setting boundaries. And this meant setting boundaries with other people and with myself.

  • Mentally, I had to step back and realize I could leave tasks incomplete because they would still be there tomorrow. If I was totally gassed at 4 PM after being on the go since 3 AM, it was TOTALLY OK to shut work down for the night.
  • In that same vein, I allowed myself breaks. That could mean a 30-minute nap or reading for pleasure during the day for a little while. Again, the work would still be there. For some of you, blocking out time in your calendar - even 15 minutes - to decompress can be very powerful.
  • I’ve also put my phone on “do not disturb” for portions of the day when I need focus (between work partners and most people in the gym having my cell phone number, this has been a game-changer). Similarly, my phone goes into “do not disturb” mode around 6 PM (and sometimes earlier!) so I can wind down for the night.

Getting Ideas Out of May Head

Writing things down before bed lets me get things off my mind and sleep better. In doing so, I rarely toss and turn at night in a fit of stress about what I have on my plate.


I don't journal every day, but I've gotten in the habit of doing it a few times weekly where I write down some of my dreams, happy thoughts and things that I am grateful for.

Phone a Friend

In this world of direct messages and texting, I found myself rarely talking on the phone to people I care about. I started making phone or Facetime "dates" with friends I don't see often. It feels fantastic to catch up and laugh and is a huge stress relief.

Lighter Workouts

In terms of workouts, if I’ve had a bad night of sleep or a particularly stressful day, I do one of three things:

  • Take a rest day (I’m not going to miss out or lose my gains).
  • Go through my workout at a reduced effort (I move my body, but don't worry about lifting heavy or going hard).
  • Do a 30-minute Zone 2 workout where I simply move and don’t get my heart rate too high. I do this many Saturdays when I don’t feel like pushing myself hard and it feels fantastic and restorative.

A note on this approach to exercise: Yes, exercise can combat stress. But, in my experience with literally thousands of people who have come through our gym, the most high-achieving, stressed out people are the ones who beat themselves up the most with exercise. They focus on performance and they love high-intensity training. But, what they don’t realize is that this type of exercise can add more stress to their bodies. So, it’s ultra-important to have some light days, especially when stress is high. Otherwise, you are on that constant hamster wheel of stress.


Hands-down, the best thing I did for myself this year was go to therapy. I hadn’t been to a therapist since college and I am a big believer that, at some point in our lives, we all could benefit from therapy. This allowed me to get to the root of why I am always fired up, finding more work for myself, etc. I addressed some things that I’ve never fully dealt with, that were manifesting in me further avoiding them with work.

I think we all have elements in our life that we can manage better. If we keep trying to manage stress to no avail, there could be a deeper reason. Therapy can be a powerful tool if you’re ready for it.

As a result of all of the above, I feel more present and my quality of work has actually been better. I am so much calmer and let things roll off my back and as a consequence, I feel that my most meaningful relationships have improved (just ask Rob, I am a complete joy to be around). Every day isn’t perfect, but life has definitely improved.

All of this boils down to self-care. I used to think “I honor self-care because I exercise, get facials, etc.” But self-care is much more than that. It’s allowing yourself rest and it’s stepping back.

Again, these things work for ME. We are all different and some people get great benefits from things like meditation, being in nature, breathing techniques, yoga, etc.

So, all you stress cases out there: what are you willing to do to relieve some of your stress?

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