Overloaded by work, family, and social pressures? Deadlines to make, screaming children to take care of, emails to respond to; life ain’t all sunshine ‘n rainbows.
Next to keeping you awake at night and making you breathe fire at every wifi connection failure, these overloads may also press on your gains.
Bartholomew et al. (2008) demonstrated up to 25% less gains for stressed-out students on a 12-week program than their relaxed counterparts.
While a lot of stress remedies exist, a rather ‘woo-woo’ one entered the Western market a few years back: the @headspace app.
Headspace makes it very easy to pick up meditation through its guided 10-minute sessions, which almost everyone can implement into their lives.
Bostock et al. (2018) made 238 stressed out English employees use the app in varying amounts. Some did a total of 10 sessions, while others did up to 45 sessions in the 6 weeks study period.
Those who performed more than 10 meditation sessions of 10-20 minutes felt better, were less anxious, and had less depressive symptoms, which resulted in lower levels of overall stress.
And this effect started at a mere 10 sessions in 6 weeks, which is about 2 sessions per week!
This means that if you take 20 minutes out of every 10,080 minutes of the week, you can seriously reduce your stress levels (and improve gains).
The researchers think practicing mindfulness makes you a pro at actively coping with stress: chopping away at the root of your problems instead of the branches (hint: binging on Netflix is not going to make that assignment go away) [Weinstein 2009].
Previous research showed being stressed can slow your recovery by two-fold and in the longer term strip away 10-30% of your precious muscle gains [Stults-Kolehmainen 2014, Bartholomew 2008].
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger said he incorporated meditation into his workouts, and I dare say it helped him recover from the crazy training volumes he did (of course, the multivitamins he took helped as well).
Do you practice any form of meditation? If so, how does it help you?
P.S. Other meditation apps, such as Calm, probably work similarly.