I've recently gotten my Bachelors degree in Soil Sciences, and am currently working on my Masters degree in City-planning. This has lead to a change in my schedule; while still occupied with Soil Science, I spent hours a day outside, digging, doing heavy lifting, hiking, climbing, and so on. I'd easily burn through 4000 kcal each day, and still be hungry at night.

However, I'm currently sitting behind a desk all day, and I've started noticing that somewhere after lunch, around 2 p.m., I get a growing need to just call it a day, go outside, and just get myself tired. Problem with this is, I can't just do that.

I'm currently starting to experience a lot of stress-related complaints, like insomnia, tiredness, overeating and irritability. I blame these on not being able to dump energy into activities I enjoy. Don't get me wrong, I love my current study, but it's not as energy-consuming as I'm used to. I've changed my diet to cut down on the calories, and am currently at about 2700 kcal each day, but I still have excess energy. I do work out a lot, and I play 2 rugby matches a week, and that helps me relax, but I'm still unable to release energy in-between those activities.

What I'm looking for is your experiences on this subject. Have any of you ever been in a similar situation, and what would be your suggestions for de-stressing at work be? Did changing your diet have any effect on certain complaints?

I'd appreciate any advice you can offer.

-Stefan

Tags: Stress

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Morning hour long run or free weights.  For lunch take a long walk to get you out in the air.

Your body is used to exercise so exercise, you just need to schedule it.

It's the dirty secret about exercise - It's addictive. Not often literally so, but if you start, it's hard to stop; just like if you stop (long-term), it's hard to start.

Try to be as active as possible while at the office. Drink water from a mug or cup, not a big water bottle. Refill it often. Print to the far printer, and don't get into the habit of letting an assistant bring you things.

Do you have access to a nutritionist through your rugby team or your school's health center?

I'm currently walking everywhere in the university building, climbing 8 flights of stairs every chance I get, but it just doesn't seem to work. I keep craving those 'explosive' releases of energy.

I do have access to a nutritionist, and a psychologist, for that matter, who both suggest I miss being challenged. I just can't seem to challenge myself.

Well, go back and ask them to help you make a plan: a nutrition plan and a lifestyle plan. (Do you need to look for a more challenging hobby? Something you can do daily? Do you need foods with an even lower glycemic index? etc.)

Be aware, though, that we all go through phases where our lifestyle can't match our personality. For example, for the next 2 months, I'm doing a lot of travel for work, which means less time with my family and no time at the gym. It's not my favorite, but I have to get the job done.

They say my grandfather always hated his work, but compensated by having great relationships with his family and lots of friends.

School is only temporary, and you have a lot of self-knowledge to make a really good life when you get out. Or, because a good degree is no assurance of a good job, to compensate as best you can.

Is it possible to run during your lunch break. If you have access to a locker room with a shower you could get a few miles in over your lunch break. Some offices may have these facilities but if yours does not then you may need to look for a YMCA or something like that.

According to James Loehr, the sports performance-training coach, people with sedentary jobs do best with active recreational activities, and those with active jobs do better with relaxing recreational activities.

The rugby might be a lot of intensity but not spread out enough over the week.

Do you think that brisk exercise in mornings before work, or evening after, might help? Personally I do body-weight exercise, because I don't have enough time to be somewhere else to find equipment.

You might not need all that much, just a little each day. And you might want to combine it with meditation, to help build up concentration and goal-oriented thinking.

Did changing your diet have any effect on certain complaints?

According to Tim Ferris, diet has more impact on overall health than exercise. I'm not sure what you have in mind to change, which would depend on what your existing diet is like. Most people are eating too much refined carbohydrate and too much saturated fat. "Slow carbs" (eg, whole grains) and more protein might put things into better balance. More vegetables to slow down your digestion to even out your blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels impact the production of neurotransmitters which impact the functioning of the brain.

That's very interesting, Davis. I have that book (Body for Life), and the one by his brother, and am trying to use the information to put together a similar program suitable for me.

I can't do weight training in a gym, because I just don't have enough time to go to a gym. But my understanding is that the principles can be adapted.

I've cut most 'empty' carbs, like sugars and white bread. My current diet consists of mostly lentils, spinach, fresh fruits and tomatoes, and walnuts. I've noticed small improvements in my blood sugar levels (I've measured them, using some apparatus diabetics use), but the complaints still remain. It's not about the amount of energy/calories I take in, it seems to be more about the speed at which I burn them off. And I can't seem to get that speed up.

lentils, spinach, fresh fruits and tomatoes, and walnuts.

All good. I think spinach is rich in folacin, but you might want to add more cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, and their relatives. They're a little more nutritionally substantial than the spinach.

Lentils are rich in all the essential amino acids except the sulfur-containing amino acids. You might want to add a grain if you're not already eating bread.

Walnuts are rich in essential fatty acids. Most nuts are.

I've changed my own diet by switching from anaemic salads to more substantial ones, getting more protein with every meal, and cutting down on refined carbs. My half-Asian family still wants rice fairly often, but I have talked them into brown rice typically about twice a week (I'm getting to the point that I don't want to eat white rice at all any more). I've cut sugar down a lot.

I'm also drinking fortified home-made smoothies to boost nutrition a little. I add supplements like wheat germ, chia seed, and flax seed.

I mostly avoid fruit juice, except for non-sweet fruits. I don't want that sugar hitting my bloodstream too fast.

When I feel "down", I sometimes drink some nutritional yeast with some water. The B vitamins perk me up.

You might want to try some deep relaxation exercises in addition to the exercise. They balance each other out.

Hope it works out.

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