The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
I can’t complain about my existence in modern culture. My life is great. I have a loving family. My kids are happy and successful. My wife is a friend and lover and confidante and partner. Business is good and interesting. I care about what I’m doing. Every day is meaningful—and unburdened by concerns around mental well-being. Depression isn’t an issue for me.
But it’s not the case for everyone. The numbers don’t lie. Depression rates are climbing. Antidepressants are among the most common drug prescriptions, even among children. And because it can be embarrassing to admit you’re depressed—like there’s “something wrong” with you if you say as much—many people with depression never seek help, so the real numbers could be even higher. Depression isn’t new of course. The ancients knew it as “melancholia,” or possession by malevolent spirits. But all evidence suggests that depression is more prevalent than ever before.
What’s going on?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering five questions about stress. First, how can someone handle the stress from training five days a week, assuming they don’t want to cut back on gym days? Second, what are the negative effects of chronic stress on athletic performance? Third, what do I do when I’m stressed out and Primal Calm isn’t cutting it? Do I have any practices? And fourth, how can a working mom with three little kids deal with non-negotiable stress? Fifth, can distractions like TV or movies help us deal with stress, or are they just ways to ignore the problem?
For anyone who’s experienced it, the frustration can be miserable. The countless tossing and turning, the minutes that tick by (turning into hours), and you STILL haven’t gotten a modicum of decent sleep. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, that urge to constantly move or stretch your legs just won’t let up.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), aka Willis-Ekbom disease, affects a decent chunk of the population: thought estimates vary wildly, this 2017 representative survey places its prevalence between 5.7 and 12.3% of the population. That’s up to around 40 million people in the U.S. alone who go to bed every night knowing they’ll likely be kept awake for hours with that unrelenting, restless sensation.
Last month, you asked a ton of great questions in the comment section of my post on reclaiming your wildness and being less civilized, covering everything from rock climbing to role playing games, grappling to kung fu, walking meditation to grounding. For today’s post, I’m answering as many of them as I can.
Let’s get right to the questions.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering five questions from readers. First up, do my recommendations regarding violence and martial arts in last week’s “wildness post” also apply to women? Second, what else can you do with leftover wine? Next, how do I approach my rest and work cycles? Fourth, is phosphatidylserine good for mental stress or just physical stress? And last, does changing how we interpret or react to stress change its effects?
I haven’t talked much about stress this month, and I don’t want to give it short shrift. Yes, there’s a lot to take apart with food and exercise, both of which can feel more “actionable” at times. But stress can be a major roadblock to success. How we deal with emotional and physical stress will invariably impact our health, well-being and performance. Until we dial it in, we’ll compromise the results of all our other Primal efforts.
I’ve said in the past that stress has been one of the hardest aspects I’ve struggled with—and continue to now and then. Living Primally means I’m running on full rather than empty to be sure, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world always conforms to logic or sanity, let alone my preferences. And emotional tension aside, I like to push myself periodically in the gym or on an outdoor adventure, which means I’m dealing with physical stressors, too.
Here’s one thing I’ve done for twenty years to counter both emotional and physical stress.