by Tony Gjokaj July 15, 2022 7 min read

Dude.

These past few years have been stressful as hell.

According to Stress.org, mental health statistics have worsened these past few years. 

We have all been feeling the tension and the stress from all the craziness of politics, conflicts, and inflation.

As you may know, large bouts of stress can lead to depression, anxiety, or worse. These can be a result of prolonged levels of stress or an extremely stressful event we encounter in our lives.

For others, too little stress or too much comfort in our lives can make us directionless and depressed from an existential perspective. 
In this case, we introduce positive stressors in our lives. This is a topic for another day.

While some of the stressors we encounter are out of our control, the one thing we have a lot of control over is personal health.

Regardless of external things that are happening around us, your physical and mental health should always be prioritized.

Your own personal health is the foundation of everything: how we think, how we feel, and how we act.

Most of the Mood Lifters I help on their exercise and mental health journey come to me with the desire to improve their personal health, because they know that they can improve upon it.

They also realize that, as a result of frequent exercise, quality nutrition, and better sleep hygiene practices, their stress levels can be managed or reduced.

Understanding stress is very important to keep our mood and well-being in check.

So in this post, we are going to cover stress and recovery, and how we can work towards taking some control of stressors in our lives.

To do whatever little things we can to manage our health in this more chaotic world.

So with that, Mood Lifter, let’s get after this.

The Types of Stress

There are a lot of ways to experience stress, but for simplicity’s sake, we can categorize our stressors into two types: Physical and Mental stressors.

Physical stressors can be determined by the quality of nutrition we consume, the intensity of physical activity, quality of sleep, and more. In addition, things like injuries, illness, smoking, and alcohol can add stressors to our bodies as well.

Mental stressors can occur as a result of experiences in our lives, our environment, events, and more.These things can consist of anxiety, depression, being angry, or losing a loved one.

Regardless of what stressors you experience, your body treats both physical and mental stressors the same way.

And they can pile up.

Stress Response

Stressors produce stress responses, and how we respond to these stressors is the following:

  1. It gives us attention to something.
  2. In response, we will either attack the problem head-on or avoid it.

Stressors are not necessarily good or bad. It’s your response to them that defines whether or not they’re good or bad to you.

And that response is different for everybody.

When the stress is good, it keeps you energized, motivated, and focused, and allows us to get slightly out of your comfort zone. This can be things like moderate amounts of physical activity, a project deadline, a competition you enter, and more.

When the stress is bad, it demotivates us, distracts us, and can make our cortisol and adrenaline levels go up. These can be a result of things like breakups, losing a job, sleep deprivation, and more.

In addition, what we experience now as a good stressor can eventually become a bad. For example, adding more intensity to a stressor or adding more stressors to our lives can turn a good stressor into a bad one.

On the inverse, what we experience now as a bad stressor can be a good one that enriches us if we are able to get rid of other stressors or enhance our recovery from our stressors (more on this later).

Stress Management For Mental Health

Everyone has different stressors and some may experience some stressors more intensely compared to others that may deal with similar stressors.

So what happens if we encounter a thing like depression that is a mental stressor that continues to pull you downward?

With managing a big stressor like depression, our goals should be to focus on the following:

  1. Introduce small stressors in our lives that promote positive adaptations.
  2. Remove or limit other stressors that negatively impact us.
  3. Find ways to improve or optimize our recovery from the stressors in our lives.

Let’s explore #1.

I. Stressors With Positive Adaptations

With depression, we can encounter days where we are dealing with high levels of depression and we have little energy or desire to do anything.

And sometimes we will go seek comfort food or seek escape through video games, TV shows, and more.

If this turns into a bad stressor because you feel worse after doing it, one thing we need to do is replace or minimize those activities and find an activity that provides a positive stressor in our lives.

For our Mood Lifters, I typically recommend a TINY amount of exercise.

When they do this, I tell them to monitor how they FEEL after the workout session. If they find that it has made them feel better, then I tell them to keep chasing it.

Exercise And Positive Stress

We are a huge advocate of exercise because it can produce a positive stressor on our body. Exercise has been shown to help reduce inflammation, build a stronger immune system, and handle more stressors that life throws at us.

For most of us, if we work up towards 2.5–4 hours of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity, we will not only get positive physical adaptations but mental ones as well.

Exercise not only has been shown to help mood and well-being, but it can make us physically capable of handling more stress.

In fact, research supports that exercise can promote the brain’s resilience to stress.

And remember: our body doesn’t recognize physical or mental stressors. So in being able to build stress resilience through exercise, we can better handle both physical and mental stressors in our lives.

II. Removing Stressors

What I would recommend is to do a one-minute brain dump of all the stressors you experience in your life.

Write them down and then analyze them.

You might find that some stressors in your life are things you can minimize or eliminate.

For some, surrounding themselves in a negative environment stresses them out. In this case, you limit interaction of that environment or avoid it completely.

This is ultimately different for everybody, and only you would know what is the best solution for you.

I had an experience where one of the jobs I worked at made me stressed and it negatively impacted my attitude. 
I found that replacing it with another job reduced my stress dramatically.

III. Optimizing Our Recovery

If we encounter levels of stress in which our recovery to said stress is poor, then it’ll start impacting our performance, energy levels, mood, and overall well-being.

So with a proper ability to recover from stress, we can produce favorable responses to it.

Recovery is the process of returning to homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s preferred state of balance. With homeostasis, one’s preferred state of balance can be different than another.

We all have different levels of recovery depending on a variety of factors:

  • Genetics
  • Outlook on Life or Life Experiences
  • Careers
  • Environment
  • Support System
  • How we handle our emotions.

Some of these factors can be changed with time.

You may find that you are financially struggling and it is largely limiting your recovery.
Then, you find a job in which you no longer have to work 3 jobs and your recovery improves as your financial stress decreases.

Regardless of whether or not our burnout is physical or mental, we can incorporate practices that reinforce recovery.

Let’s explore the best things we can do for recovery.

Improve Sleep Quality

Sleep is one of the best forms of recovery we have in our arsenal and it is the most underutilized.

It’s no wonder that there are strong correlations between sleep deprivation and stress.

Sleep is a metabolic regulator that helps us do a variety of things:

  • Helps us lose fat or gain muscle.
  • Helps rebuild our bodies.
  • Helps regulate our sex and hunger hormones.
  • It gets rid of brain and body waste.

On average, most people need about 6–8 hours of sleep. Some need more while others need less.

What we recommend for better sleep is to build a consistent sleep ritual that you can stick with and do regularly.

I’ll even incorporate our nighttime sleep supplement that has L-theanine and Lemon Balm for calmness and relaxation before bed.
You can grab yours here.

Eat More Nutritiously

A nutrient-dense diet can help support a stronger immune system and it provides the proper energy and nutrients needed to manage stress.

With nutrition, there isn’t one specific food you can eat to reduce stress.

It’s the culmination of many whole foods that consist of healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and more.

In eating nutritiously, you should focus on these fundamentals:

  1. Eating lean proteins like chicken, eggs, egg whites, and fish.
  2. Eating healthy fats (Omega-3s) that come from fish, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Have a diverse palate of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  4. Staying hydrated throughout the day.
  5. Have a diet that consists of mostly whole foods.

If you focus on following these guidelines, you should see improvements in your stress levels.

For more on nutrition, you can read our ultimate guide here.

Mental Recovery

Last on the list is mental recovery.

Mental recovery is more individual in that there are a variety of things that can help us improve our mood and well-being.

I find that light physical activity, working on this brand, and listening to binaural beats or self-help podcasts really help my mental recovery a lot.

While the possibilities are endless, here are some things you should consider for mental recovery:

  • Binaural beats or white noise. These can really help bring calmness or focus to our lives.
  • Going outdoors. This is not only good for your well-being but good for Vitamin D!
  • Technology detox. No social media, movies, or video games. Focus on relaxing with purpose.
  • Meet and bond with people. Spend time with friends and family.

Ultimately, this is individual to you and what preferences you might have.

Conquer Your Stress

So you now know that stress can have a large impact on your mental health.

You now know that there are good and bad types of stress.

With this knowledge, it is my hope that you incorporate this knowledge to improve your mood and well-being.

If you plan on using exercise as a way to battle depression and you are new to it or haven’t been consistent with it, let me help you.

I created a free 30-day course that can help you LIFT your morning mood. You can sign up for it here.

With that, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to direct message me on Instagram or in our Facebook Group.

Until next time, Mood Lifter!


Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.



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