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How to Combat Stress with Fitness

How to Combat Stress with Fitness

Job Loss, Stress, Economy and Fitness!

Here is a great email that is getting more and more common these days. People are seeking new employment and coping with stress more than ever:

Stew - I have been in the financial business since I got out of college and always regretted that I never served in some capacity (military, police, fire fighter, EMT). Well, I am no longer working, thanks to the economy, and now at 30 starting to think more about joining the military or police force. Where do I start?

Sorry to hear about the job loss. I know there are a few million of you out there now seeking employment as well as young high school and college graduates in the same market. It is stressful losing and finding a job and dealing with that stress is not much different than going through a grieving / loss process. You know - shock, denial, anger, resistance, sadness, and acceptance. My recommendation is to get over the job loss quickly and start exercising to relieve the stress hormones coursing through your body. You do not necessarily need to skip the above stages of loss, but speeding the process is helpful. Here is a free plan to help with weight loss and building good habits if you have not done anything in a while.

- 45 Day Plan (PDF)  - A great plan for weight loss and basic fitness and health habits!

And a stretching / core strength / lower back and stomach plan that will help with stiff joints of the torso and lower extremities:

- Lower Back Plan (PDF) - This is the easy way to reduce stress - stretch / work it out lightly!

Back to the Job Loss and New Search:  

Do not be embarrassed by getting laid off. In fact, think of it as a new beginning. These days, the average person will work at 4-5 different jobs before retiring - some even more. Find something you like to do, or have always dreamed about doing and chase it down and communicate with your family and friends your situation and future options. Having support from people closest to you is helpful as well.

Job Opportunities:

Military, National Guard, Reserves, and Federal Law Enforcement agencies are still hiring at above average pace. Some local and metropolitan fire and police forces are slowing down academy classes due to budget shortfalls, but they always need replacements for retiring public servants, so see what is in your city, county, and state that is available. All of these require some form of fitness training so get started running and doing calisthenics like pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups as they are commonly tested. Check out the Military.com Job Board for possible leads and networking.

No Need for a Gym:

Since I have been out of the military (nearly ten years now), I have never joined a gym. No need to spend the extra money when you can run outdoors, find a pull-up bar or build your own. I use playgrounds for pull-ups, high school tracks, community center pools, and floor space for some dumbbell weights and calisthenics. Check out the article "Getting Fit on a Budget" for more ideas.

Get Some Education:

This maybe the time to get to college if you can find scholarships, loans, or use the GI Bill if you have it. Get some training in a field of your choosing AND more than likely you can use the school\'s gym / pool facilities while a student for free!

Regardless, life is stressful no matter if you are in the civilian sector or serving your country in any capacity. Dealing with that stress requires effort otherwise you will pay for it in the long run with more illness, lower energy levels, and a disrupted life. Other than exercise and relaxation you need a healthy diet and sleep too:

Diet:

Where have you heard this before - "proper exercise and diet." Well it helps with stress too! Foods rich in anti-oxidants like many fruits and vegetables are your best bet for snack foods and should make up a larger percentage of your overall meal preparation. Limit foods high in sugar and drinks high in caffeine in order to have a more relaxing evening prior to sleeping.

Sleep:

People who exercise actually sleep better than those who do not. Some people with insomnia also have high levels of stress hormones in their blood stream when trying to fall asleep. But regardless of diet and exercise, if you are not getting enough sleep / rest, you will not handle stress very well and succumb to the side effects of a stressed out life. Check out the article "The Importance of Sleep" for more information.

See my article archive for plenty of free information on fitness programs for various groups. And google your local, state, and federal programs if you are interested in finding a profession in the public service of our country. There are plenty out there and they are hiring.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

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