Autoimmune Strong Tips on How to Manage Stress & Anxiety
Autoimmune Strong is, at it's core, an exercise and physical fitness program. However, for me, the idea of being "Autoimmune Strong" is a metaphor for life in general. You see, there are two ways people typically exercise, and these represent two very distinct ways of living our lives.
1. People who don't exercise at all. These people find exercise scary, painful, and overwhelming. The idea of sweating, being in pain, or sometimes even just going to the gym fills them with dread. So, even though they know that exercise is good for them, they avoid it. OR...
2. There are the people who work at intense levels of exercise at all times. They push themselves harder and faster, working their bodies to the limit. They feel that failure means not working hard enough. They push through the pain and exhaustion, and they try to accomplish what they think needs to be done to stay healthy and fit.
These two examples are both different ways to deal with the same thing- stress and anxiety. And in life, these metaphors hold true. For some, the anxiety is paralyzing, for others the need to "overcome" the anxiety is so strong that they push far beyond their physical and metal limits. I have lived at both extremes, and I can tell you personally, neither is healthy.
So, for people living at both ends of the spectrum, I challenge you with this-
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
For those who relate to the feeling of paralysis, this is a time a time to push through. Challenge yourself. Try something you thought was scary or intimidating. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You must do the things you think you cannot do". This will feel uncomfortable, your brain and body might resist. Push yourself forward a little bit despite that discomfort, and you will find that you are stronger and more capable than you think.
For those on the other extreme, this is a time to slow down. Press pause. Listen to your body, and take a rest. Take some time for yourself, relax your mind, take deep breaths. Do something fun and silly. Let yourself go for a few days. Don't hold yourself up to such a high standard all the time. This will also feel uncomfortable. Breathe into the discomfort, and push yourself to find a space to unwind. You will find that when you return to the things you are passionate about, you will be better focused and more capable of handling the pressure that comes at you.
Both types of people can most certainly participate in Autoimmune Strong's fitness program. For some, they will feel that these exercises are challenging. For others, they might find the exercises too slow. I encourage both groups to give it a try- I promise you will learn something about yourself through the process.
Either path you choose, no matter what, requires hard work. But I promise you, it is worth it. I designed Autoimmune Strong's exercises as a progression- it is a slow buildup of foundational strength over time. This too is the metaphor for life. Build proper foundations, go slow but keep moving forward, take rest days when you need them, and soon enough, you will find yourself at the crossroads between strength and security- at peace with yourself.