We all suffer from stress occasionally, most days bring a few moments of stress such as being stuck in traffic and knowing you’re going to be late for work or getting behind on a project but it’s quite normal for these situations to present themselves and then pass. Of course sometimes stress can build up to the point where you struggle to cope and everything becomes too much. Sometimes our stress levels can peak without us really even noticing, but our bodies always find ways of letting us know when something isn’t quite right.
Many people assume that stress is solely an issue that is dealt with mentally, if you can clear your mind and organise your busy thoughts, to-do lists and worries up there in your head, then you won’t feel stressed, and in some ways that is true. But often stress manifests itself as physical symptoms too. It can be something as simple as a headache or trouble drifting off to sleep. Our digestive systems can start to feel unsettled when we’re stressed, it can make you over eat or lose your appetite entirely. But if you do notice that you are suffering from stress, or think that perhaps you’re not as relaxed as you should be during your down time, it’s important to find ways to get your body and mind into a place where you can feel good both mentally and physically – and one of the best ways to do that is exercise.
Stress free and healthy
Naturally, when you hear the word ‘relax’, you don’t automatically think of exercise. In fact stress has a way of depleting your energy and making you feel drained or lethargic, so surely the best way to conquer that would be putting your feet up in front of a movie or running a hot bath? Well perhaps it would, but science has long proven than keeping yourself physically fit and healthy is one of the best ways to keep your mind fit and healthy. Physical exercise produces endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, they are what help you get through a workout and contribute to that buzz you might experience afterwards.
Regular exercise also helps to boost your self-esteem, contributing to your confidence and your overall wellbeing and helps to induce a natural and well deserved sleep. Lack of sleep caused by stress in turn creates more stress, irritability and prevents your body functioning as well as it should do. Sleep is one of the key elements to reduce stress, and exercise is the best way to combat that.
Plan to enjoy yourself
When you decide to start a regular exercise regime, it’s important to choose something you feel that you will enjoy. There’s no point deciding to start something new if you’re going to hate doing it. Exercise doesn’t have to include going for a two mile run, although if that’s what you enjoy then go for it! Running is a great way to reduce stress as it gets you in the outdoors and encourages you to focus on breathing and your posture.
Yoga is also a great form of exercise to help reduce stress levels as again it focuses on breathing, lowering your heart rate and works on combining your mind and bodies connection. Yoga is also a great form of exercise for people who don’t enjoy or are unable to participate in cardio based workouts.
Team sports such as football, tennis or racquet ball are also a great way to relieve stress. Spending time working out with other people can be a very effective way of not only taking your mind off the day’s stress but also encourages you to take the time out to participate in the sport itself, particularly if motivation is something you struggle with.
If you really feel like beginning an exercise regime or taking part in sports is not for you, the most basic forms of exercise such as taking a walk in your spare time or even choosing to walk to and from work rather than jumping in the car can be surprisingly effective and helping to reduce stress. Walking is a great way to get outside, take in the fresh air and to spend some time appreciating your surroundings. Even a short walk contributes to slowing yourself down and lowering your heart rate. Taking a step to help manage and reduce stress is vital when it comes to looking after our mental and physical wellbeing, and in helps us to manage any stressful situations that may occur in the future.