Right from school till the end of our lives, we face stress in one form or the other. The number of reported cases of stress-related disorders is constantly increasing. And morbidity due to stress and anxiety has spiked over the last few decades. This can be attributed to fast paced lives and lifestyles that are increasingly demanding from us more than we can handle. Right from maintaining a strong personal physical image to maintaining a healthy social media image, the sources of stress are ever increasing and taking newer forms. Though most of the stress goes unnoticed by us, there are times when it warrants careful attention.
We should not see stress only from a negative perspective.
Some stress is good, and some stress is bad. Good stress makes us productive. For instance, the inner pressure to achieve something huge has led to famous discoveries, inventions, etc. But on the other hand, extremes of stress have led to people committing suicides and wallowing in depression.
Each of us has ways of handling stress.
Most people watch a movie or their favorite TV show in order to relax. Some visit their friends or loved ones. Sometimes a silent afternoon reading a favorite novel will help. But there is a one-stop solution for all types of stress and for all age groups – Exercise. Just plain regular exercise.
Before you incorporate exercise into your schedule, it is important to identify what is causing the stress. If the stress is something avoidable, then aim to avoid it. For instance, if arguing with your co-worker causes stress, then avoid the argument altogether. But if you are still stressed, then start exercising.
So let’s now take a look at what makes exercise such a great stress-buster-
- Exercise helps you shift concentration from anything and makes you focus on your body. The underlying mechanism is simple. When you are fighting for your breath, your only goal will be to breathe freely, which makes you lose focus on the things that are stressing you. So the next time you are exercising hard, try to remember that stressful event. You find that you will not be able to.
- Exercise involves no drugs, so side effects are unheard of – contrary to what is the case with stress relieving drugs. You can do it anytime, without the prescription of a doctor.
- Exercise releases a chemical called endorphin, which is also released during times when you are motivated or happy. So these endorphins give you a super happy feeling after a satisfying workout or exercise.
- The most active sensory organ in your body is the skin. The touch receptors in your skin are put into action when you are exercising. If you have ever had a whole body massage, you will understand that when these receptors are activated, you have a relaxed sensation. Exercise gives you a similar sensation.
- Exercises improve cognition by way of forming new synaptic connections and new memories. Sportsmen have high resilience, and this attribute is something that can be learned. Exercise also boosts your confidence level.
- You may have noticed that you breathe faster when you are tensed or anxious. Deep breathing exercises are recommended for people who are fighting stress and depression. A high-intensity workout will naturally increase your breathing rate and depth, as well as your blood circulation, leading to effective relaxation
- Now comes the best part of the exercise – namely, that it will make you so tired that you will have no time to even think. Getting a good night sleep is a challenge for many, and if you are stressed, sleep will evade you. You can cheat stress and fall asleep after a fulfilling workout.
So what types of exercises can you do?
It can range from simple to heavy depending on your ability. You can do aerobic exercises, walking, running, swimming, cycling; as well as engage in a number of sporting activities. Finally, hit the gym to really put yourself to the test.
So the next time you are stressed, you know what to do. Keep calm and Exercise.