Any approach to health improvement, if it is not holistic, it is doomed to fail. It is impossible to transform your body if the mind is not in the right place, just as it is impossible to be mentally healthy if the body is being mistreated.
Stress management is no different. You won’t evolve in any other area if you’re stressed out. You’ll underperform at work, have a terrible relationship with your family, and, of course, your physical health will be at its lowest.
So, how stressed are you? Do you know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress? What tools do you have to lower those stress levels?
In today’s Ask Ted episode, Ted answers the question: “What’s your go-to for managing stress?”
He explains how to recognize and detect stress signs and symptoms, how to lower stress levels, and why most people don’t realize how stress affects them.
Ted also reveals, a simple yet powerful 5-step process to annihilate stress and help you hold yourself accountable to get the stress reduction you need.
Plus, he shares his 5-step process to annihilate stress, explains what to do when you pick up stress signs in your life, why scheduling stress-reducing activities is crucial for stress management, and so much more.
- The right approach for any health issue
- The two branches of your autonomic nervous system, and how they affect your stress response
- Why it is crucial to recognize stress signs and symptoms
- What do you need right now, relaxation or excitement?
- Why it is essential to protect your stress reduction activities time
- How to turn stress management into a lifestyle
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: What's Your Go-to For Managing Stress? - Ask Ted
Ted Ryce: On today’s Ask Ted episode, we’re going to be answering the question from Rizwanee, on Twitter. And he asks me, “Ted, what’s your go-to for managing stress?” And what I’m going to share with you today is not just my approach to managing stress. But I also want to give you the framework of how I think about it, how I approach it, and how I hold myself accountable to make sure that I get the stress reduction that I need.
So, if you’re a person who is under stress right now, if you feel like you’re under a bit of stress, then you’re going to want to listen to this episode. What is up, my friend? My name is Ted Ryce, host of the podcast, health coach to entrepreneurs and other busy professionals.
And before we dive into what I would call my simple five step process to annihilate stress, I want to talk a little bit about stress to begin with, to frame this properly. Because when I was in my 20s, I mean, before I was in my 20s, when I was in my teens, I didn’t even know—I’m sure I heard the word stress. But it wasn’t something that was on my mental radar. It’s not a word that I could even think having a conversation about.
It was just not something in my, like I said, my mental radar, if you will. As I got into my 20s, I became a personal trainer when I was 22 years old 1999. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, 23 going on 24 years. And I had the good fortune, I don’t know if you know who this is now, but I learned from Paul Check.
Paul was one of my mentors when I first got into fitness as a personal trainer, and I became a certified health coach under him. And, Paul—it’s a little tricky for me to tell the story because Paul has changed a lot and evolved into a lot of spirituality, a talking about spirituality, and it’s not something… I don’t feel connected with him anymore and in what he talks about, I’ll just leave it at that.
But at the time, though, 23/22 years ago, when I was learning from him, he started opening my eyes like, hey, health is a holistic thing, the stress at your work, the stress in your relationship and the stress that you put yourself under through lifting weights, it all affects—it’s cumulative.
You may compartmentalize things psychologically, but the stress is cumulative. You may say you deal really well with stress at work. And that may be true, but it still has a cost to you. So, maybe you deal with his stress really well, when you’re at work, but then when you’re hanging out with friends, you cave into, you know, drinking and overeating.
Or maybe you get into fights with your spouse or girlfriend boyfriend. So, it’s cumulative. You may compartmentalize mentally, but physiologically it’s cumulative. And another thing that’s really important about stress is that it’s not just some mental feeling. That’s what I initially thought is: oh, well, stress, oh, I’m feeling stressed. That’s just a mental feeling.
It’s not really physical. It’s just all in your head. But that’s not true. You’ve heard of your nervous system, you’ve heard of your brain, right? And spinal cord as being part of your nervous system. That’s your central nervous system. But you also have a few other parts of your nervous system. And I’m not going to go into those—all of them.
But the part that’s important here is you have something called your autonomic nervous system. And if you were to go to medical school, or physical therapy school—now they do this—and dissected cadaver, you’ll be able to see your autonomic nervous system. Where am I going with this? Hang on for the ride? Because I’ll explain it to you.
With your autonomic nervous system, there are two branches: you have your sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and your parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system. So there are two branches to this autonomic nervous system. Don’t worry, I’m not going to test you at the end of this episode. I’m just trying to set some foundation so you understand stress better.
Your sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and your parasympathetic branch, if you were to take a test in university in physiology, anatomy and physiology like I did, because I studied—I was doing all my pre- med requisites in university, I was either going to be a neuroscientist or a doctor of some type.
So, if you did the anatomy and physiology course, that’s what they call it: sympathetic branch, parasympathetic branch. But here’s the thing, you already know these branches, or at least one of them. The sympathetic branch is known as your fight, flight or freeze response.
So if you've ever gotten really irritable because of some things that were happening, or maybe you read something on social media or saw something on the news, and it got you really irritable, that's your stress response, you got stressed. That's the fight part.
Let's say you were walking down the street, and you're about to cross a road on the sidewalk and a car whizzes by. Runs the red light, whizzes by, because they're running late for work, or whatever—happens a lot in Miami, where I was born, and you like, you see it, and you jump back, you weren't really about to be hit, or maybe you were, but it was way too close for comfort, and it made you jump back.
That's, again, your stress response, but now that's an example of flight. And freeze…I'm trying to think of a good example here. But have you ever heard: o oh, they were like a deer in headlights? That's the freeze response, something is coming at you and you freeze, because you're not sure: should I fight it? Should I run? I'm not sure what to do, and so you freeze.
That's your sympathetic stress response: fight, flight or freeze. Now, everyone knows that you've all experienced that. But there's another thing that you've also experienced, but maybe you didn't know the name of so the parasympathetic branch is your rest and digest branch. Very interesting.
So, meditation causes your parasympathetic, your rest and digest branch to be activated. Sleep does that, meditation, I already said that, getting a massage does that. So if you're understanding, if you're following what I'm putting down here, we have these two branches, you have your stress response, we've got your sympathetic your fight flight, or freeze response, and then we have your rest and digest.
And so the first step of my process is to pay attention to signs and symptoms of stress. So if I'm getting irritable, and argumentative, like if I'm spending a lot of time on social media, and people are like: oh, gosh, I'm so irritating, where if I find myself irritated for any reason, I'm like, “Ah, my stress response is going over.”
And if I'm really irritable, I know I've waited way too long. Now, I'm the type of guy who I tend to fight and I tend to flight, I don't really freeze that much, at least I don't think. Maybe I do and I'm just not aware of it. But I'm very aware of the fighting and the freezing, right. And I'm also aware of when I'm feeling good. I'm like, “Wow, I feel so relaxed right now.”
And really interesting. Pay attention to the name the rest and digest. What we know is that if you're too sympathetically stimulated, if you've got too much fight, flight or freeze going on, it can disrupt your digestion, you can get irritable bowel syndrome.
So, folks, what I'm trying to say here is that this is not in your head, or it is in your head, but it's in your brain. It has to do with levels of neurotransmitters like neuro norepinephrine, and it has to do with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. So your stress response is a hormonal response. And actually, so is your parasympathetic branch it, it runs on acetyl choline.
We're not going to get into what that is. But it slows down your heart slows down a lot of processes. So pay attention to signs and symptoms of stress. If you're feeling like you're irritable, if you're feeling like your flighting, maybe you feel maybe you're not going to run away from your business or your relationships or your family.
But sometimes you might feel that way. That's a sign and symptom of stress. If you're escaping into like what I used to do playing video games for hours, or, I smoking marijuana was stoned every day, when I was in my late teens, maybe 18 to 27. I was stoned every single day. That's how I manage my stress. I was flighting.
People eat because they're flighting from stress. They overeat specifically people eat because they're hungry and they need food to survive, but if you're overeating, you're probably flooding from stress and freezing. Maybe you're maybe you need to take care of something but every time you think about it, it's just so big.
I remember when I was in debt. I got myself in debt like $10,000 in debt, just traveling around the world doing—I was in my 20s traveling around the world. I had a bunch of things that I was doing, traveling around, doing seminars to learn better techniques, actually, going to Paul Check’s the coach certification in San Diego, it was expensive to go to, it was a few thousand bucks to go to that I had to do thousand dollars or prerequisites and I had to pay for my flight and my..
So anyway, I was in debt. And I just…I'm like, I thought about the debt and it was just freeze. I just pretended it wasn't there. Can you relate to any of this? And I want to ask you, what are the signs and symptoms of stress in your life that you can pay attention to now, that you see happening right now?
How big are they? Are you one of those irritable people? Now very interesting about this, I want to just say one more thing, is that, some of us, we know like, oh, well, I'm not an irritable person, but I'm feeling irritable.
Now, other people are just, hey, I'm just an irritable person. And what I want to tell you is, I used to be one of those people. And here's where that came from. As you know, if you've listened to this podcast, you know some of my life story, my brother was murdered, my sister committed suicide, my mother died in a car accident, it’s a lot of what you might call trauma, a lot of stress.
I, after my brother was murdered, I had PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And so what happens to a lot of people is they undergo some intense stress in their life and it heightens the level of their fight, flight or freeze response. So most of us that haven't had that are walking around normally, and then we'll get stressed, and then we'll get irritable.
Some of us have been through something that was so intensely stressful, that our nervous system, the activation of our fight, flight or freeze response, remained elevated, and didn't come back down. So, I was diagnosed with PTSD from a psychologist after my brother was murdered. And that's how I started to learn about this stuff. It's like, oh, well, I'm hyper vigilant, I respond to things. I'm very sensitive to stress. And the reason is because I was already stressed out just from what I had been through.
And I want to say this one more thing before we move on here, because I think it's important. What happens? So we talk about in the West, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. Another way of thinking about it, though, and something that I've been thinking about more recently, is that it's not necessarily a disorder, it's that the things we go through in life, train our nervous system.
For example, if you went through something, if you've had a family member murdered, you might feel like, well, the world's a dangerous place, people get murdered, I had a family member murdered. And so your stress response is more activated. Why? Because you're more ready to respond to threats.
So it's not so much you have a disorder, you're having a normal reaction to an event that happened into your life, because now your nervous system is trying to say, hey, you live in a dangerous world, you need to be on the edge, ready for action at any time. Are you with me on that? The good news is you can also retrain your nervous system to calm down, because the reality is, yes, people do get—there's violence in our world.
And some of us will either experience violence or know people who've experienced violence. But the reality is, for most of us in the modernized world, if you're living in the US, you're living in the safest time in history, if you don't agree with that, go to Portugal, or Spain or Asia and learn about just a couple 100 years ago, right? Or even the history of the United States.
We're living in the safest times ever, not in safest time in every city in every country. But if you're in the US, rates of violence are down, even though some other things like mass shootings might be up, the overall rate of violence is down. Okay, there might be a little spike in there because of the pandemic or dropped in there. I'm not sure of the statistics, but in general, violence is coming down.
So we're living in one of the safest times in history. But if you go through something traumatic, it can feel like you know what, I need to be ready to fight at any time. Okay, so two things there. Pay attention to your signs and symptoms of stress. And if you've gone through something stressful in the past, and you feel like you're walking around with this heightened level of nervous system activity, heightened level of fight, flight or freeze response, know that you're going to have to do extra work, maybe even therapy to bring it down to the right level that's appropriate for our society because you don't need to be on the edge.
Okay, number two, after – that was a lot for number one, right? I know. But I'm just trying to be comprehensive here. I want you to walk away from this thing like, I've never heard somebody explain it in that way before. So number two is I decide if I need excitement or relaxation.
I want to give you an example. It's Tuesday today, I think, no is Wednesday. It's not Tuesday, sorry, it's Wednesday when I'm recording this. Over the weekend, my first ever private client retreat for my client Glenn. He wanted to level up, have a break through. And he got a massive breakthrough. spending three days with me.
He came in Thursday night and left Sunday afternoon at 4pm. And it was amazing. But it was also I don't want to say stressful in a bad way. Because one a good point here is that stress isn't bad. It's chronic stress that's the problem, your nervous system stays activated. Your fight, flight or freeze response is activated for too long. But stress you need it to perform your best.
Not enough stress leads to lower performance. Too much stress crushes your performance too. You’ve got to get the right amount of stress to make you perform your best. So it's not a bad thing. But you have to manage it appropriately. It's about creating that balance between your fight, flight or freeze and rest and digest.
So what do I need? Do I need some excitement or need some relaxation? So after the weekend, I felt fried. I didn't even realize it. But I'm like, wow, I'm really exhausted. We did scuba diving. We walked a lot of steps. We did kayaking. We had long conversations, hours of coaching, basically interspersed with really fun activities. And it was a weekend.
And with Glen, what I did was I interspersed excitement and relaxation. So he did meditation and breathwork and other things. And I did some meditation on my own. He was doing that with the person who I conducted the retreat with, Sabine, who I’ll have on the podcast some time to talk about breath work, and how emotions get stuck in us and how breath work helps release them.
But my point here is that after 4pm after Glen left, I was fried. I went and hung out with Sabine for a little bit I was like, “Sabine,” I went and had a green juice and some falafel and quinoa over here at a restaurant in Playa Del Carmen Mexico, which is where I am right now. And I said, “Sabine, I feel great, but I'm feeling really exhausted, like I need a massage.”
So I knew that I wasn't feeling fight, flight or freeze. But I could tell like I was really exhausted. So that's another sign of too much stress, right? And also, I was struggling. It wasn't just the retreat, I was also struggling with jetlag. I think I'm over it now. But when Glen—I had some disrupted sleep while he was here, and it was like I was up at four in the morning, I couldn't go back to bed.
So I needed some relaxation. And she was like, “Hey, let me see if I can get a massage person for you.” And so she was able to, and by Glen left at 4pm and by 6:30pm, I was getting a massage, a 90 minute massage because I knew I needed some relaxation, and I wanted to sleep well that night.
So that's an example of deciding if I needed stress, excitement or relaxation. I want to give you an example of the excitement. I'm feeling good now. I slept well last night, my resting heart rate. …By the way, I'll throw this in as well use my Oura ring to track my sleep and resting heart rate. So those are other signs and symptoms of stress that I pay attention to.
And so I saw that my heart rate was around 49 for the past few nights, but I did 45 minutes of cardio yesterday, boom. Today it dropped to 46. I'm feeling like a rock star. Can you feel the energy? It's not just coffee folks, although I did have a delicious cappuccino this morning. So tomorrow what I've done is I've scheduled a bull shark dive.
And not just diving with sharks, but a bull shark feeding dive. So I'm going to descend to the bottom of the ocean with a feeder, and they're going to feed bull sharks from their hand while they're swarming around us. That's going to be exciting, folks. That's what I'm meant to hear because I can't just do zipline. Zip lines are boring for me.
And I don't like jumping out of airplanes because I get really dizzy on the parachute ride. I love the freefall but the parachute ride is extremely motion- sickness-inducing for me. So now I'm going to get some excitement and I balanced the excitement and relaxation. So I'm always deciding: do I need excitement in my life? Do I need relaxation?
I'm going to say this to you. I need some excitement because I've been feeling a little bit lonely as I've gotten to Mexico—and I'm not lonely, because I know Sabine here, I know a lot of people here but I've been doing a lot of work and I'm feeling— it's not even maybe loneliness. It's that I've switched. You know, I had a magical a few months in Lisbon had an incredible week in Paris. had an interesting week in Madrid and here I am outside.
I'm not in Europe anymore. And just, I'm suffering some culture shock here and like I need to get over it fast so I can get back into the zone, and I'm feeling a little bit like hmm, a little needy, you know? And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way.
But I know if I get stuck in this feeling—feelings are bad, it's okay to feel bad, to feel lonely or sad or happy, it's good to feel all those things. But if I get stuck here, then that's a problem. Because I'm not going to do my work, I'm not going to serve my clients, and I'm not going to grow my business. And I'm not going to be enjoying my life like I want.
So, when I feel like that, feeling kind of weak, I scheduled something exciting, because it boosts my confidence, I did something tough. Even though I've done bull shark diving before I've even done a bull shark feeding before. I haven't done it in a year and thinking about it, it’s like, woo, and I'm going to be right next to the person. That's what the promise was. So we'll see how that goes.
So those are some examples of how I approach: do I need excitement? Do I need relaxation. So if I'm feeling like I need a boost of confidence, I do something exciting. If I feel like exhausted, irritable, etc. I do something relaxed, relaxing.
The next is, I scheduled it immediately, as I just shared with you when Glen's retreat was over on 4pm. Sunday, by one hour and a half later, I was getting a massage, and I scheduled it immediately. I didn't even feel like I had time to schedule the massage before—actually, I tried to schedule a massage and the person that I normally get a massage from wasn't available.
So I asked my friend, Sabine, “Hey, can you reach out to a few people? I really need a massage.” And I scheduled it immediately. And the bull shark dive. I scheduled that yesterday. I said, “Hey,” I looked at my schedule. I have free time on Thursday, I asked the divemaster that I go with, like, “Hey, what do you recommend?” He's like, “Well, it's bull shark season, baby.” I said, “Okay, let's do it. Let's do a feeding.” And so I scheduled it immediately.
The fourth thing is I protect that time, I'm not going to… I've already let my team know, don't schedule anything from this time to that time, right? I'm going to leave. Ed's going to give me the final time in the morning, when he confirms it with me. But I'm going to protect that time. I'm not going to let anything be scheduled during that time.
That's key, folks. Because people are going to say, “Hey, can you do this? Can you schedule this in your calendar?” “No, I can't, I don't have time. I've already got something planned. Happy to do it later.”
And then number five is follow through. Following through means you're getting into a habit of making this a lifestyle. We are constantly learning through our habits, we are constantly training ourselves. So if you have the habit, for example, if you don't protect the time you let, “Oh, I guess I could reschedule that, because this is really important.”
It's not that important to your business. Unless you're like me, like if I died, it would be tricky to replace me. Or if I got sick, it would be tricky to replace me. Because I mean, it's my business partner…Actually, they could still replace me for sure. But I'm the guy who's doing the podcast all the time, there would be someone new and different.
It would be hard shoes—at least I believe, at least I want to believe—it would be hard shoes to fill. But the reality is I'm replaceable, and you're replaceable too, especially if you're working in a business. And it's not a personal brand business, you're a bit of a number. So, protect your time, that builds the habit of prioritizing yourself and then following through, builds the habit of taking action.
So those are some bonus tips here all right? And just to recap what we've talked about. The first is pay attention to signs and symptoms of stress. Number two is decide if you need excitement or relaxation. If you're feeling exhausted, physically exhausted, like the idea of doing something physical is like, “Oh gosh, I can't hit the gym, I have no energy.”
Or “I'm really irritable and if I go to the gym, I'm going to get even more irritable because it's going to...Oh god, I can't believe I'm working out,” and you know? So, relaxation is what you need. But if you're feeling kind of weak and like you need a boost of confidence, then you need some excitement, whatever that is for you.
Number three is schedule it immediately. Number four is protecting that time and number five is following through. And let me tell you: if you do this, you will annihilate your stress and eventually, you'll become a very powerful but also calm person.
That's what we're looking for, that combination of confidence and calmness or calm, cool and collected, right? calm cool and collected, that saying. That's what we're looking for. Because a lot of people what they do, they’re, “Oh, yeah,” they try to act confident. But it's really aggressiveness. And that's not powerful, that's not coming from a place of true power.
And I don't mean power like power over people but power over yourself, and then that calmness, people who are too calm or just you know they're like you can you can tell they're a bit of a pushover. You don't want to be a pushover either. You want to have confidence and you want to be calm.
If you do these things, if you challenge yourself with excitement, if you bring down the activation of your fight or flight response with relaxation techniques, you will be this confident, calm person and your life will change. That's it for today. Hope you enjoyed it. Speak to you on Monday.
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