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Exercise and Stress

Can’t have one and the other!

Like some of your favorite cartoon heroes and villains, stress and exercise are archenemies, battling to take control of your mental health. When one is present, the other is likely not in the picture. Ready to do battle with the stress in your life? You’ve got to hit the gym.

A Strong Connection

From a young age, you have known that exercise does the body good. But now research has shown that it also does the mind good, and that exercise is particularly good at reducing stress. It does this by increasing your body’s production of endorphins. Known for making you feel good, endorphins are essential to happiness and a life devoid of excessive worrying.

As such, exercise has an uncanny ability to change your mood from gloom and doom to optimism and hope. A quick jog through the park or a game of basketball both require you to focus on something beyond those things currently causing you to stress out. Once you’re finished with your workout, you are able to see the stressors for what they are – small things that need to be taken care of, one thing at a time. With this new mindset, stress washes away and makes room for productivity and positivity.

“Give your stress wings and let it fly away.”
- Carin Hartness

Your Responsibility

Now that you know exercise can kill your stress, you have a lot of work to do. That’s right – it’s up to you to get exercise. It may seem an easy task to get to the gym, but you probably know by now that it’s harder than you think. And it can be particularly difficult if you’re being bombarded with stress around every corner.

The problem is that stress often makes you want to avoid the gym. After all, you’ve barely got time to get everything done on your to-do list, so how could you possibly squeeze a spin class into your routine? By forcing yourself, that’s how. Because if you allow stress to win the battle, you’ll never overcome the overwhelming feelings that are brought on by those nagging stressors. Getting to the gym may seem like a trial, but the perks of feeling better instantly and getting improved perspective on what is important will help more than you can imagine.

And remember – any kind of exercise is better than none. Know you won’t be able to spend an hour at the gym after work? Take 15 minutes during lunch for a walk. It may seem like a small step – which it is, but it will reap big benefits for your mental health.

Beyond the Gym

Unfortunately, exercise alone isn’t always going to help your stress melt away and never return. Sometimes, it takes a little more effort to fend off the stresses of daily life. If you find yourself unable to relax and lose your stress with exercise, it may be time to take some other steps for maximum stress reduction. Other ways to reduce the stress in your life include the following:

  • eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • spending quality time with family and friends
  • talking with a medical professional, such as a psychologist
  • going to social gatherings when given the opportunity
  • taking a warm bath
  • practicing special breathing techniques

Regardless of what extra steps it takes to overcome your stress, don’t give up on exercise. It may not fight your stress all on its own, but keeping up a regular exercise regiment works wonders on your stress, helping it stay under control and making it possible for other stress-relieving methods to work their magic.

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