Stress is a part of the human condition. We constantly feel stress as it is a natural response to pressure. We might have pressures in our home life, relationships, work life and other aspects of our lives which can result in stress. The two biggest elements, according to research published by the NHS (NHS, 2011b), found that money worries and work-related pressures formed the two biggest stress factors in the majority of UK cases.
Stress can affect the human body in many different ways. Stress can affect the way you feel, behave, think and even how your body functions. The NHS claims the commons signs for stress include sweating, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems. Extreme signs include headaches, muscle tension or pains along with dizziness. The body always tries to help during periods of stress by releasing a surge of hormones. These ‘stress’ hormones will help the human body cope with the pressure or threats. This is called the ‘flight or fight’ response and it is a primal response to stress.
Therefore it is essential that you can identify the signs early and help yourself prevent stress from getting worse and causing more complications, such as high blood pressure. It should be noted that there are no cures to stress. You cannot prevent stress – stress happens during many different activities from watching an emotional TV episode or film to playing a video game. The important element is to be able to manage stress. Good stress management is vital in helping you find the right balance in your life. One great way to help combat stress is exercise. This article will look at a few ways in which exercise can help you manage your stress.
Let’s look at three great ways that exercise can help you de-stress:
Do something you love
Don’t start lifting weights if you really like the outdoors. The same goes for someone who loves weights starting off with running. This will add to your stress. You need to find an activity you love. You could enjoy cycling, yoga, walking or even dancing. Once you have found your activity why not incorporate it into your day – if you like cycling why not cycle to work every day? By doing something you love you will keep you motivation levels up which will in turn lower your stress levels.
Get in control of your workout
If you love your workout then you can better control it. This is important because you’ll get more out of it if you feel in control. Stress is predicated on the lack of control in a problem relating to work or money. This lack of control creates pressure which pushes up our stress levels. Therefore by doing something you like by having full control over the activity helps de-stress. This ‘control’ could be in the form of working out to both de-stress and lose weight. The ‘losing weight’ element helps you find ‘control’ in a part of your life which acts as a de-stressor for the other areas of your life.
Endorphins are good
Endorphins are good hormones that the body releases into your body to make you feel great. The quick fix is chocolate. However, since we are talking about a healthy lifestyle, you can get a release of endorphins from a 30 minute swim or jog – which can be topped up by a nice treat size chocolate that can help you feel just that little bit better!
When you workout – be it a swim down the pool, cycling through the park, a jog around your village or digging out your camping gear for a night with nature – you can have twenty or thirty minutes to yourself. This distraction from your immediate problems can help you find clarity and therein inner peace as the changes in scenery will help you refocus on the task in hand i.e. the exercise.
Stress is often embodied as an individual issue but we can help overcome stress through social exercise. This could be a spinning class, a yoga class or a hiking/running club. The distractions, endorphins, doing something you love whilst also gaining control of part of your life are all evident here, however you get something else which is a sense of friendly motivation. Friends help friends and when you are in these clubs working together helps form relationships which in turn helps you de-stress.
These five points can help you manage stress – there are no cures – however with some daily activities like cycling, swimming or jogging you can better help manage your stress through the use of the above hints and tips which will help you focus your attention on what you love, getting distracted but in a good way, building a social support group, getting some control over a small part of your life and boosting the endorphins in your body. These five elements are central to helping you manage stress in your life!