So many life events cause stress - both good events and bad ones. A new mate, a new baby, a new house, a new job - all good things that happen to all of us at one time or another. Even though these good things are what we choose to do, we still have to deal with how they affect us. Excitement, happiness, and other positive emotions are often offset with feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty, or worry about how life is changing. This balance of emotions causes stress.
When bad things happen, such as a death, illness, loss of job, divorce, or money concerns the stress level can shoot out of control. These serious worries can make some people very sick and unable to function normally. There are feelings that situations will never improve or that nothing will ever be good again. This stress is some of the most difficult for people to manage.
The most common symptoms of excessive stress is fatigue, stress eating, insomnia, and general lack of motivation to do more than necessary during the day. These symptoms can be light or extremely severe. Those affected severely may be almost debilitated by what they are dealing with.
What would be your first response to either type of stress? Think about it - how have you dealt with these issues in your life before? Based on the common symptoms, one of the most effective responses to stress at any level is exercise. We constantly hear that your body will be more energized if you exercise - helping get rid of fatigue. It's also been proven that people who exercise regularly are able to sleep better at night - helping get rid of insomnia. Focusing on an exercise program can help curb stress eating by pointing your mind toward fitness rather than overeating. Also, it has been shown that individuals who are more physically fit often experience fewer health troubles for a number of reasons.
High stress levels can lower your ability to fight off infections and exercise can help counter-act that problem. On top of the physical benefits of exercise, the mental benefits can be many. Some people exercise to look good. Some people exercise to feel good. Some people exercise at a gym for social reasons. Some people exercise to fill time in their day. The reason people exercise isn't usually important - they will get the physical and mental benefits from it either way.
It's recommended that every person exercises at least three to four times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. More is better, but this schedule will be a great start if you're not currently active in an exercise program. A mix of different kinds of exercise will keep your body completely fit and also keep you from getting bored. Aerobic combined with weight training and core strengthening is a great combination.
Motivation is often a factor - especially when stress levels are high. There are a few things you can do to help get motivated to get to the gym or exercise at home. To find the best motivation for yourself, though, you need to be very honest as you look for motivation and make decisions about your plan. Will spending the money to go to a gym really make you go? For some, the money won't matter and for some it will. Will getting a personal trainer that you'll be accountable to help you get the process started and sustainable? For some, this works and others don't care about accountability to others. Will joining an exercise class where you bond with other people and make friends help you? Some people really enjoy the social aspects of a class while others like privacy for their routines. So, you get the picture. It really depends on your personality as to what will motivate you the most.
Just remember that some of the benefits of choosing certain options for adding exercise to your life can turn into stress busters. Getting to a gym with a class of people can help you take your mind off your issues. It can also help you bond with others who may have similar situations to deal with. Working with a trainer who has the ability to push you to do things you normally wouldn't do can build confidence and self esteem - what a stress buster that would be!
Another way that exercise helps relieve stress is that it relaxes tight and tense muscles. Over time, you'll become stronger and the stress won't be able to affect your muscles as much as before. Also, most people experience a relaxation response to exercise that lasts for an hour or two. This can definitely be a mood lifting thing. This reduction in tense muscles and addition of relaxation time will go a long way to helping you handle stressful time more effectively.
Self-image is an important factor for everyone. When we're highly stressed, our self-image can suffer. Exercise does help build self confidence by making you just feel better about yourself and how you look. A new focus on a healthier lifestyle often results from just starting an exercise program. For most people this means improving your diet to more healthy choices.
And one final word on getting as much exercise in as possible - don't stop at following your program or routine. Always look for ways you can get in more exercise by taking the stairs or parking far away from the door. Do your own housework. Play ball with your kids in the yard. Join a softball or volleyball team. It's important to get moving! Everyone agrees that exercise is beneficial for both the body and the mind. As a result, it can relax you when other techniques fail. Exercise does take time and it does require discipline, but the benefits are certainly there if you're willing to make it a regular part of your life. Consider all the benefits in addition to stress reduction and go for it!
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