Written By Jack Boardman
Stress is a part of everyday life. Whether it’s because of work, a change in circumstances or day-to-day seemingly little things that can add up to be a burden, stress levels are something that everyone manages. If unchecked, the symptoms of stress can lead to mental health issues including, anxiety and depression. It can also result in physical afflictions such as low energy, malnutrition, dehydration, all of which can lead to injuries.
There are, however, things that you can do. Along with time management, and talking about your stress in order to put the world to rights, exercise is a definitive solution to combat stress and its detrimental effects.
Want To Manage Stress? Move It.
For even the most avid of gym-goers, you may not realise the link between your mental and physical health. Even for those getting their cardio in on a daily basis – be it running, football, gymnastics, martial arts or body building – you may be taking for granted how this physical activity impacts your well-being of mind as well as body.
Rely On Your Natural Ability To Rival Stress.
Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, and also improve your ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
To benefit from endorphins and reduce those stress levels, you needn’t think in terms of high intensity gym sessions, running marathons or going exponentially out of your comfort zone, either. If you’re a couch potato or a bit out of touch, start small: take stairs instead of lifts, walk instead of driving when feasible, and if you’re sat at a desk at work, take opportunities to stretch your legs on your breaks.
It is generally acknowledged that a low to moderate intensity workout will help you to feel more energised and in better spirits, even if it’s leg day and you’re somewhat wobbly as you vacate the gym. But did you know that your body produces endorphins when you do meditation, massage therapy and acupuncture, as well as the likes of yoga and pilates.
It is proven that regular aerobic exercise can decrease tension and elevate mood, all of which, in turn, have a very positive effect on your self-esteem and ability to deal with stress in the first place. Stress, depression and anxiety can often be a result of a vicious circle of allowing your day-to-day worries to build up to a negative spiral where you neglect your physical health. A solid routine could see you spiral in the opposite direction.
When it comes to producing endorphins, if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, now is the time to think of one that you believe you could realistically maintain. We’re not talking about mass muscle gain programmes or high intensity goals or marathons, instead, think about what you could realistically commit to during your week. If work’s choc-a-bloc, can you make time before and after? Think in terms of effectiveness; if you want to battle anxiety and depression a stolen 10-minute walk in the middle of the day could produce those endorphins you need and make all the difference in the long term. Take those ten minutes – and you know you can – and make it a routine.
Exercise And The Right Fuelling Increases Your Overall Health
Going back to that link between a healthy body and healthy mind, you might take a look at what kind of fuel you’re running on. Whether you attend the gym, are a serious athlete or have any aspirations to exercise at all, what you put into your body on a regular basis could be a simple step to reducing your stress levels. For more on this, see our article: How Does Your Diet Affect Your Stress Levels?