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By Columnist Michael Meredith – Athletic Coach:

8992447404_4841799951_bPhoto credit: B&W 200m via photopin (license) –

Stress in life is an unavoidable experience. We all will experience it at some time or another and in some form throughout our life. However, the level of stress we will suffer from and the severity depends entirely on the type of stress, and how we manage it.

When it comes to athletic performance, stress can be your best friend or your worst enemy. An athlete needs stress (acute stress) to stimulate adrenalin, to enhance energy and to promote performance under pressure. But excessive and severe stress, along with poor management can lead to poor performance.

Stress Response

The relationship between stress and performance created by Nixon P. in 1979 (see figure below) indicates that pressure has a crucial influence on an individual’s response to stress. The stress response curve suggests that as stress increases, performance will progressively do the same. Once an optimal or sustainable level is reached, the stress response curve reaches the “comfort zone” of an athlete in terms of the stress and performance relationship. When stress levels become excessive or overwhelming, and no longer manageable, the performance curve will begin to decline, leading to poor performance, breakdown and possibly ill health.


Image credit: Lessstress.net via Creative Commons (license)

As demonstrated, this stress response curve can relate to all forms of stress in life including work, relationships and athletic performance. We all have an optimal level of acute stress that we can manage, that challenges and stimulates us, and improves our standard of performance under pressure. When these stress levels become overwhelming and no longer sustainable, we begin to breakdown. Fatigue, poor performance, and our health will suffer. Stress is a necessary evil when it comes to performance. Managing stress is the most important element when it comes to making it a positive rather than a negative.

Learning to identify when we are no longer in our “comfort zone,” is an essential element of managing stress. Understanding and acknowledging when we are not performing as well as we know we can and when stress is becoming a negative influence rather than a positive one.

Some Useful Tips for Managing Stress

1. Sleep –  Ensure you sleep seven to eight hours every night. This time is when our bodies rest and recover, with your body able to work on repairing any physical damage. Also, your central nervous system gets an opportunity to reset itself, and your hormones begin to function properly.

2. Healthy Nutrition – Good quality natural food sources will give you the nutrients you need to help your body operate as efficiently as possible. Healthy brain function will rely solely on the food you eat. It’s incredibly simple.

3. Stress-free exercise -Don’t be scared to let the pressure go and enjoy yourself. Stimulate your ‘feel good’ hormones and let the adrenal glands rest. Never discount the health benefits of having some fun.

4. Timeout -Take a holiday. Go for a walk on the beach. Read a book. Sit in the park and listen to music. Time out for you is crucial.

5. Staying Calm under pressure – An effective mechanism under acute stress is learning how to stay calm at any moment. Control your heart rate. Take a deep breath and analyse the situation. One of the most common attributes to successful athletes is the ability to stay calm under pressure.

6. Managing your lifestyle and mental attitude – Performance can be enhanced by your ability to manage stress. Listen to your body. Learn to understand how stress is impacting on you. Then work towards turning the effects of stress from a negative to a positive. Manage your stress better and watch your athletic performance go from strength to strength.

About Our Athletic News and Review Columnist – Michael Meredith

Michael Meredith

Michael Meredith, Master Personal Trainer, Elite Obstacle Racer, Former Sydney A-grade rugby league player, Runner, and all-round health enthusiast, is the Founder of Aussie Athletes Health and Performance. As a coach, Michael’s philosophy is to focus on health and performance. His 12-week training programs for men and women, include strength and fitness, OCR (or obstacle course racing) and recreational running. Micheal aims to narrow the gap between strength training and aerobic endurance so that his clients’ can balance the two effectively to create the fittest, healthiest version of themselves.

“After more than 5-years as a Personal Trainer, I have helped celebrities, recreational athletes make it all the way to an élite level of fitness. In addition, I have annually sponsored two ‘everyday athletes’ as a mentor. This give one male and one female the opportunity to take on certain events throughout the year under the guidance of the #teamaussieathletes community.”

“My major focus as a trainer is to complete an exercise science degree and turn my Aussie Athletes business into a community based-group that operates out of its own head-quarters. Aussie Athletes Health and Performance is now operated via two of Australia’s premier Fitness First Platinum Clubs in Sydney Australia, these being in Park Street Platinum and Bondi Platinum.

Disclaimer: The author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion form the basis of this column. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.


  1. Really like the simple advice at the end of the blog.
    Nutrition is a big factor and isn’t talked about enough when it comes to basic stress guidance to the average person.

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