How to not let stress affect your workouts

How to not let stress affect your workouts

For the past week and a half, I’ve been involved with a very talented and a tad crazy group of people to compete in a hackathon – where we produce a fully developed product delivering actual value to our users and company. Yesterday was the final presentation and judging; we had to pitch to senior leadership. My stress levels were through the roof, even as we were having so much fun! My workouts a chore that was keeping me from doing more with my team. What was that saying … “take care of yourself”? Even my kids noticed my stress levels but it was heightened by getting more stressed at having to do workouts.

Now that I know that I will face the kind of intense stress that will plummet my energy levels, I can be aware of a few things that got in my way of workouts these past 2 weeks so I can learn how to not let work stress affect my workouts.How to not let stress affect your workouts

Work is not always life

When I was on my computer all day and night, worried about finishing up in the deadline, I was carrying the mental stress even after I closed the computer. It was harder for me to get moviing and to do anything else other than work more.

The only times I could get a workout in was when I woke up early enough. But even that backfired since I was going to bed late and early wakeup meant that I was running low on sleep.

Early to bed, early to rise

Not enough sleep can wreak havoc on mind and body. The body is more exhausted and I feel reduced motivation. Even though I was not watching TV late at night, staying up for work was reducing my body’s natural enthusiasm and everything felt like a chore.

Short regular breaks

A desk job sitting at the computer for long hours is definitely not conducive to pulling in workouts. Even when I had my workouts scheduled, I had no energy to get up and actually go. If I had taken frequent breaks to just walk around and stretch, I think I would’ve been a little more effective in sharing the inertia.

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

During the hackathon, we were well fed – breakfast, lunch and snacks were arranged for all the teams. So there was never going hungry or forgetting to eat. But what I did keep forgetting in the stress of it all was to drink water. I’d start the day with a bottle but it would taper off as the day kept going. I could feel myself being dehydrated and that would make me feel like my energy was being sucked out.

Added stress of workouts aka plan better

In a way, this was a weird one for me. I was stressed with work but I was even more stressed when I missed a day. And that feeling compounded when one missed day became three. And the day that I missed my long run – worst.feeling.ever. Even though I knew that I consciously gave up my long run in order to not be hurried with … you guessed it … more work and the minions’ swim meet.

I don’t advocate not making time for workouts, but perhaps if I had reconciled it with a 45 minute run instead of a 2hr run, I would have gotten something in. In this case, the 2hr workout was adding stress that I could’ve avoided.

As much as I HATED missing my workouts and it stressed me out more, it was all worth it. We won the hackathon and await to see where that leads our eclectic team.

Getting through stress

How do you deal with stress? Do you find that it affects your workouts? How do you manage to keep stress at bay and still get a good workout in?


These are some of the weekly linkups hosted by great bloggers. Check out some of the posts in the linkups.

Meatless Monday – Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands
Tunes Tuesday (first Tuesday of the month) – KookyRunnerRun With No Regrets and RunSteffRun
Tuesdays on the Run –No Guilt LifeMCM Mama RunsMarcia’s Healthy Slice
Running Coaches Corner – Running on HappySuz LyfeCrazy Running Girl and Coach Debbie Runs
Friday Five 2.0 –Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness

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  • Kimberly

    These are great tips! When I have big projects at work, I make sure to hydrate a lot during the day. I find that it helps to keep me alert. I don;t drink coffee, but I love having a cup of green tea in the morning for a little caffeine buzz.

  • running and wine lol


    Well done on winning the hackathon!! I must admit I’m not the best at finding time to work out when I am stressed at work. And I don’t hydrate at all. So by the time I get home I actually feel nauseous and sick and tired and blah! I will have to remember all your tips next time I find myself stressing. Such a relevant post.

  • Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    I find that when I work out it helps with me being stress, and sometimes I get an even better workout in because I am putting all my energy int that workout.

  • If I’m under stress and ALSO trying to figure out when I can get in a planned run, I have learned it’s sometimes best to just skip the run altogether or shorten it (like you mentioned). A short, but effective, run is better than a long run that’s sub-par because my body and mind are drained. Congrats on your team’s win!

  • Rachel

    Great tips! I didn’t have a “stressful” workout today, per se, but I definitely needed to hydrate better!!

  • My workouts typically help me reduce stress. But when I’m under extreme stress, I may shorten my workout just to cut myself a little break.

  • I am usually able to tune out my stressors while working out-it really helps a ton

  • Chrissy Carroll

    I definitely use workouts as relief from my stress. But sometimes if stress is affecting my sleep, it totally makes it tougher to train and put energy into runs/rides!

  • I need to run when I’m stressed out. After reading Mindful Running, I tried not to work things out on the run but sometimes you just gotta!

  • Michelle@Running with Attitude

    My workouts, especially my runs, are really my stress relievers – it’s my time to escape!

  • The Accidental Marathoner

    Any kind of a workout, even a short one, is a great stress reliever for me. I sometimes just have to remind myself to take a break from my crazy schedule and get it done.

  • Stress can kill your energy levels and I will often just take a walk and keep it low key when I am running on fumes.
    And just doing something matters…I ran 15 minutes this morning because that is all I had time for 🙂

  • Congrats on the win! I find that making time for exercise can be even more important when other things are stressing me out, but I may compromise on workout length. Even 30 min makes me feel better.

  • Vanessa

    These are really important tips to keep in mind! Working out usually helps me manage stress.

  • Kathryn Thayer

    I often turn to working out as a stress reliever. Its only on the really bad days at work that I’m tempted to skip a workout entirely.

  • Andrea Signor

    I so agree with early bedtimes. And I need to hydrate more. I think that’s been holding me back lately!

  • Esther McNary

    Thankfully my job isn’t too stressful, and I get to take a mid morning break and workout!
    I need to work on getting to bed earlier though!

  • I find it really challenging to fit everything in. Sometimes when I KNOW it’s going to be a stressful few weeks I plan ahead and then I actually make a date with someone to do and do what I want to do! The next couple weeks for me are really busy (well, also we are traveling) so I planned up two weeks in advance and made running and spinning dates with my friend Vincent. No way he’ll let me skip either 😉 So that helps. And yes, sometimes running for 45 min is better than 0 (even if it “should have been” 2 hours).

    but it’s tough… also with doing all the other stuff that you mentioned!

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