Types of Stress: chronic (long-term; mixed drinks) + acute (short bursts; shots)
- 🔴 CHRONIC 🔴: prematurely ages cells (this is the type of stress that’s often vilified in media)
- 🟢 ACUTE 🟢 “initiates your body’s recovery process” by building cells’ resiliency and coaching it on how to handle future states of stress.
High intensity training OR a form of cold / heat exposure
Essentially, it’s short, vigorous bursts of shock to the body. The goal is to strengthen your body’s protection and performance under situations it deems as threatening or challenging.
Think of it as a way to boost the body’s natural or innate adaptive defense mechanisms. For those equally as interested in the scientific terms as I am…studies have shown this type of intense shock burst has “positive effects on brain, musculo-skeletal, and cardiovascular function, reappraisal of threat/anxiety, and training-induced stress-optimization”.
Our modern day to day “conveniences” have allowed exercise / physical activity to be optional for many - especially those in desk jobs! This has brought unintended harm to various benefits that physical activity can have on these same protection and performance responses. Think about smart homes: you do not even need to get up to turn the lights on - Alexa or Google can do that for you.
These are also considered “hormetic stressors” which target the body’s cycle of “hormesis” - “a process in which your body and cells respond, recover, and improve after mild stress”. Simply put, body’s adaptive mechanisms.
EXAMPLES OF STRESS
A job interview, lifting weights, infections (on a cellular level), communicating with a crush, handling crushing medical news, asking for a raise, receiving the “we need to talk” text, experimenting with a new recipe (for some) - send me some other ideas!
The “big three” stress hormones - norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. These three, which you’ve most likely heard of before, act like levers throughout the body to toggling the state of ALL other cells and organs to combat the stress and ease the body.
HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING
TYPES You may have heard of these referred to in different formats or terms like: High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.), tabata ("40 seconds work / 20 seconds rest"), "metcon", etc.
These HIIT style workouts for even just seven to ten minutes at a the end of a training session is an excellent and speedy way to achieve this stress fitness.
I'm obsessed with these kinds of workouts because they help me push myself and prove that I can sustain difficult feats. I have several sweaty examples on my instagram - check them out:
TYPES Cold shower, ice bath, etc.
In addition to the reasons outlined above, this type of cold exposure “stress fitness” has been shown to improve circulation. This is because the freezing water hitting your skin shocks the body - immediately sending your circulatory system (blood flow) into overdrive; overall, this is a good thing for your overall health.
After a warm shower, can you experiment by cranking the cold-dial for 15-30 seconds? A recommendation: I started by singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” two times through…once I nailed that, I tried a mentally challenging feat - like saying the alphabet backward - to try to distract from the discomfort!
In summary, I have found that cold water immersion has been beneficial to my mental health and allowing me to recognize that I can “do hard things' '. I cannot confirm the touted physiological benefits of cold water immersion (i.e.: increase in heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory minute volume and metabolism) at this time, because I think pushing yourself via exercise is equally - if not more - important and impactful :)
TYPES: wet sauna and dry sauna
- Wet saunas (temperature = 70–100 °C; humidity ≥ 50%): “increase the thermal load of an individual by maintaining a high internal humidity to reduce evaporative cooling 
- Dry saunas (temperature = 80–90 °C; humidity = 10–20%), wood, heated by an electrical heater
Some touted benefits involve improved breathing, various positive improvements in “cardiovascular health” as well as lipid profiles (i.e.: on a blood test, these are labeled cholesterol, HDL, LDL etc.). Sauna exposure, like cold exposure, limits the premature aging of cells caused by chronic/negative stress.
Aside from the fact that I'm convinced I am more reptile than human, saunas are my favorite. They promote intense sweating, which releases both toxins and fat molecules. Similar to cold plunging, this extreme heat exosure has also allowed me to focus on sitting with and accepting the physical discomfort of my current state; I repeatedly tell myself that it's only temporary and focus on regulating my breath and/or bring a book into the sauna with me to distract myself. I have been experimenting with 15-20 minutes at a time - ideally working my way up to 30 minutes!
Keywords: eustress/distress, psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunology, wound healing, infection/autoimmune disease/cancer, sleep, stress reduction, stress optimization, amateur/elite athletes, performers/entertainers, armed forces/special operations forces