The 2A “passionate” has low methylation which gives him a lower serotonin level than the 2A “actor”. As such he is more at risk of anxiety in stressful times because serotonin prevents brain overactivity (which is what anxiety really is).
In your case the anxiety is likely due to an excessive sympathetic (fight or flight)/parasympathetic (rest and recover) ratio. Probably brought up by an adrenergic (adrenaline)activity that is too high for your inhibitory neurotransmitters to control.
If you understand the connection between cortisol and adrenaline, you now that any cortisol release will also lead to a release of adrenaline (cortisol increases the conversion of noradrenaline into adrenaline).
So any stressor (which increases cortisol) will increase adrenergic activity, making it harder for your inhibitory neurotransmitters to calm the brain down at night.
When you are in a high stress period you produce tons of cortisol, when you train you also produce cortisol… and depending on how you train you can produce a lot of it.
If you know that you are sensitive to anxiety under stress, it is likely that training too hard can tip the scales in the wrong direction.
5 elements can trigger a cortisol release in training.
Volume: cortisol is needed for energy mobilization. More volume means more energy requirement which leads to a higher cortisol release to mobilize the required fuel.
Intensiveness: this is how hard you are pushing each set. The closer you get to failure, the more cortisol you will produce. That’s because at that level the brain thinks that it’s about to fail and is in danger.
Psychological stress: any load or exercise that causes some “fear” or uncertainty, or required any psyching up, will release a good amount of cortisol.
Neurological demands: the harder the brain needs to work, the more adrenaline you need (to increase neurological activation, awareness, focus, motivation). More complex movements can thus increase cortisol more than simpler ones. Exercise combinations (A1/A2) will also increase it more than normal sets. Adding new exercises also increase neurological demands. Heavier and more explosive work does the same.
Density: the shorter the rest intervals, the more cortisol/adrenaline increase, keeping your heart rate up. Great to stay in the zone, but comes at a cost.
If you only have a high stress day, I would probably skip training (for example, I never train when I give seminars). If you have a high stress period of several days I would simply decrease the variables that increase cortisol:
- Low volume
- Don’t go to failure, leave 2 reps in the tank
- Stay in the moderate load zone (6-10 reps/set)
- Use more machines and pulleys
- Use longer rest intervals.
The melatonin after 5pm will help. Glycine 3-5g post-workout and at 5pm will help (by directly calming the brain down and by increasing circulating serotonin), magnesium 200mg post-workout and in the evening can help (by dislocating the adrenaline from its receptors), SAM-E can help (it’s the end product of the methylation cycle, if you are a poor methylator, SAM-E can compensate for that).