The High Performance Journal

4 Minute Fridays: How To Reduce Stress, Coffee Naps & How To Build Muscle With Stretching

4 minute fridays Jul 14, 2023

4 Minute Fridays

By Dan Go

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The other day I found myself feeling a craving for something sweet to nibble on after a long day of work.

As I was filtering through the cabinets looking for something yummy to eat I stopped and asked myself,

"Why do I want to eat?"

The surface answers were that I was hungry or that I deserved it after the day I went through. Then I went deeper and found that I was at the end of my day and was feeling stressed.

I thought to myself,

"Aside from food (which I know won't fix the emotion) what else can I do to lower my stress levels?"

I decided that a walk was the best antidote to how I was feeling. So I asked my 3-year-old daughter if she wanted to come with me and off we went.

After 20 minutes of walking (more like rucking because I was carrying my daughter), I came back home, and guess what? I didn't feel the urge to eat anymore.

There are many ways to deal with stress and, yes, you can eat food to cope with it. But from personal experience eating only numbs the stress. It always comes back.

The best thing you could do after a long day of work is take a walk or do some of the protocols in this email.

When stress is high always remind yourself that there are healthier alternatives to battle it.

That being said...

Here is your 4 Minute Friday:

1. How to lower your stress levels

Aside from walking, there is another way to control your stress and energy levels that's accessible to everyone.

If you want to decrease stress immediately do a Psychological Sigh:

  1. Double inhale through the nose.
  2. Extended exhale through the mouth while sighing.
  3. Do this 1-3x.

If you want a longer break away from stress, do Wim Hof Breathing:

  1. Exhale through the mouth, then immediately breathe in again.
  2. Take 30–40 such breaths in short bursts.
  3. Take one final, deep inhalation then let the air out and stop inhaling. Hold your breath until you feel the urge to breathe again.
  4. Inhale very deeply to full capacity and hold for 15 seconds, then let it go. This completes the first round.
  5. Repeat the whole process 3-4 times.

Our breath is the key to controlling our nervous systems. When you're feeling stress coming on try these out before reaching for food or alcohol.

2. Coffee naps

This is not something I'd recommend to everyone but it works if you need it.

A coffee nap is exactly what it sounds like. It's drinking a coffee followed by taking a nap. Studies have found that caffeine intake followed by a nap can improve alertness and mental acuity.

You basically drink a coffee after lunch as quickly as you can and then nap for no longer than 20 minutes. After you wake up you will feel more refreshed and focused until the caffeine wears off.

How this works:

Caffeine works by blocking a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which promotes feelings of sleepiness. Throughout the day, adenosine levels build and for some people, this means getting sleepy during afternoons when they need to be productive.

Taking a coffee nap can help with this but there is no such thing as a free lunch. For people who are caffeine-sensitive (like myself) drinking coffee into the afternoon can lead to a decrease in sleep latency and quality.

Coffee naps were originally meant for night shift workers & sleepy drivers. This is not something you want to do on a regular basis especially if coffee affects your sleeping patterns.

3. Loaded stretches to build muscle

We all know that lifting weights builds muscle but did you know that stretching can help you build muscle as well?

What I'm not saying is that normal stretching will lead to muscle growth. If that were true then every person you see at the gym would be Olympians.

The caveat to this is that the stretching needs to be high effort and intense.

Stretching under load is using a weight to get into stretch. As you're trying to resist in a lengthened position you produce more muscle fiber tension.

This form of training may stimulate muscle growth, especially if done as a supplement to regular weight training and performed at the end of your workout.

How to do loaded stretches:

  1. Use a challenging load.
  2. Do an exercise where the target muscles are still under load when they’re in the most lengthened position.
  3. Go down to the lowest point you can reach in the range of motion.
  4. Hold the weight there. Even better, voluntarily tense and flex the muscle while it’s in the lengthened position.
  5. Hold for 60 to 90 seconds. Rest a couple of minutes and do 3-5 total sets.

Here's a video by Christian Thibaudeau on how to do loaded stretches:

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One Quote to Finish Your Week Strong

“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted.

The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.
They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful.”

- Carol S. Dweck from the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success 

No matter what you're situation you always have the ability to change. Having a growth mindset doesn't mean not making mistakes. It's allowing yourself to make mistakes knowing it will lead to more growth.

- Dan

Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

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