Geekly Get Fit: Dealing with Stress

By Matt Ortiz on


2016 was a roller coaster. There were ups and there were downs. Personally, my second daughter was born in April, but after that there were complications in the family due to my father in law’s serious long term illness.

Within the Geekly community, we’ve had some ups and downs as well. I know a lot of us felt sucker punched by the U.S. election and, regardless of which way you feel, everything feels divided. Between friends, family, co-workers, etc. it’s not really what we want to deal with right now. As geeks and nerds, we are hyper sensitive to what goes on around us. Either because it’s a flinch response to threats like bullies in school or it’s just how our brains work so that we can supernaturally tune in to what interests us. Either way, it’s stressful.

My day used to be rather stressful; I was a manager in a warehouse but was actively looking for a better job and now that I have one, I do feel less stress, but my energy level has dropped quite a bit. It could be the weather – in the Seattle area, it is starting to warm up a bit after a bit of a cold snap so I’m working out a bit more. But it’s still late at night, and after getting up early, traffic, work, traffic, getting kids to bed, sometimes I don’t feel like bothering to work out. I’d rather play Astroneer or play on the PS4.

Stress, I see now, fueled me. I got off work at the warehouse still full of energy, drove home, did what I needed to and worked out for an hour and a half. Now it’s little more than 30 min.

Now, stress is likely the most powerful antagonist in your life as well as the most powerful TOOL that you can use to make your life better. On a basic level, there are two ways you can view stress: eustress, in which you view it positively, and distress, in which you see stress negatively. Even though I may see working all day in a warehouse, getting kids ready to bed as a eustress for a workout, another person may see it as distress and completely shut down. It’s largely your own personal frame of mind which determines this (mental health issues aside).

Now, if you ever had anger issues as a kid, your mom or dad may have told you to go punch your pillow. Surprisingly, as an adult this worked well for me! If I had a rough day, taking it out on a punching bag did wonders. A 30 min routine got me sweating and not thinking about the distress in my life for a bit. Eventually, when I encountered that stressor again the distress lessened and it wasn’t much of an issue again. I had reprogrammed my brain to want to have distress to help my workouts…I turned a DIstress into a EUstress. The chemistry that goes into this is incredibly complex and completely dependent on your own brain. See below for a good article on it.

Since a lot of us probably feel like balloons floating through a cactus field, more than anything right now is to do something about how you feel. Use your anger to fuel your workout – the stress you put on your body (in moderation please) will help you lose weight and get buff. If that’s not your thing or you still want to do more, please follow @Roll4Change and ask what you can do to help.

Most of all, know this: you are not alone! You feel things and they matter to you. It may feel hard to find a good ear that will just listen, but they are out there (free and paid).

Here are some links that may help:

Counselling hotlines.

ADAA article on physical activity and stress.

Mayo Clinic article on exercise and stress.

Here’s a useful guide explaining the link between addiction and anxiety.

There are awesome people on YouTube that inspire me. These guys while male-bodied have good info on working out for anyone and welcome all types of people. Here’s another channel, if you prefer a female-bodied person.

You can follow me on Twitter @foodfistway.

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