Stress is almost an indistinguishable part of the matrix of modern living so it’s important that you develop mechanisms for coping with it properly. ‘Stress’ elevates cortisol levels and puts you in a physical ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response mode. Being stressed for prolonged periods without a system to manage it can be detrimental to your health and inner organs but the good news is that exercise definitely helps to significantly reduce stress. Read on for 5 Top Stress Busting Exercises which aim to motivate you to choose what’s right for you -yep, let’s ditch the old weapons of mass destruction for the new tools of stress reduction!
Exercise promotes the release of ‘happy hormones’ (serotonin and endorphins) to your brain, they act as natural ‘painkillers’ that also help clear mental and emotional stagnation and improve sleep quality which is very often negatively affected by stress. So, what exercises should you be doing? Well anything really, particularly any exercise that triggers the release of your happy hormones!
Dancing is a great way to combat stress; it keeps you focused on the ‘moves’ which in turn helps coordination and body awareness. Dancing is something that comes naturally and your body is made to move to rhythm! The focus here is on fun, it’s extremely important to be able to ‘switch off’ during times of stress! “There are short-cuts to happiness and dancing is one of them” said Austrian novellist Vicki Baum.
Yoga is valuable because of the mind-body connection it promotes; from the breathing techniques, focus on poses and the added overall calming element are very rejuvenative as well as relaxing. There are of course many variations of yoga practice but generally hatha yoga is the primary one, ideal for stress relief due to its focus on the body and postures, slow, deliberate pace and overall easier poses. Yoga benefits muscle relaxation and having conscious awareness of your breathing is essential in coping with, channeling, alchemizing or transforming stress.
3. Martial arts/boxing
These disciplines integrate the body and mind into a fused ‘machine’ capable of heightened ability, coordination and mental focus with a full range of bodily movements featuring lots of repetitions and drills. They provide great stimulus and can be very empowering, something of definite benefit if stress has left you feeling emasculated of confidence and control. The focus on you as an individual that challenges yourself towards measurable goals, outcomes and training objectives is a huge mental and (by extension) physical confidence booster. These do require commitment of your time and energy and aren’t ‘easy’ but these practices so encourage you to tap into your ‘hidden reserves’ of power and perseverance!
4. Weight it out!
Your body is an extremely awesome thing! Take it to its fullest potential through various body weight (calisthenic) exercises as well as lifting weights. It’s easy to lose perspective when under stress but the one thing you owe to yourself exactly at such times is your health and well being. Continue to expand your inner and outer resources to effectively direct stress into something constructive so that you can surf the crest of the next tidal wave you may encounter.
5. Running or cycling
Hit the open road if you can! That feeling of freedom when it’s just you and the open road cannot be relegated and ‘bundled’ up into the confines of a gym. When outdoors, pace yourself as it best suits you; embrace the road and appreciate the ever-changing environment ahead. Clear the mind clutter!
Here’s a solid quote we like that speaks to this topic: “It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it” -Lou Holtz. It’s so important to find your own system to manage stress effectively and actively seek ways to build up extra positivity in the meantime as well!