How to Overcome Stress using Physical Exercise
One of the most common tips you get from people when you tell them about your stress, is to start exercising. Naturally, there is a very valid point behind this tip, and that is because it works very well. Regardless of the reason for you working out, there are several health benefits linked to physical exercise, and it’s a good thing to keep up in general. However, if you’re interested in how exactly this affects your stress, then you’ve come to the right place. Lets dive in to using physical exercise as help of how to overcome stress!
The body’s reaction to exercise
First and foremost, the general health benefits from physical exercise, such as the release of endorphines (hormones that make you feel better), a stronger immune system and improved self confidence, assists in keeping your body more stable, and your mind more at ease in general. In this way, exercise can be a great way to pre-emptively prepare for stress, and to cope better with it if it were to appear. Just imagine; if you manage to stay healthy when the flu is going around – at least that’s one less thing to be stressed over!
The increased blood flow, and the regular use of the muscle tissue also allows your body to get rid of unwanted tensions from stress, and to be able to more easily relax when needed. When the body’s fight, flight or freeze-response kicks in, and activates the nervous system (as described in this article), the blood rushes to the muscles, amplifies the body’s capability of survival and gives you a rush of adrenaline.
As the body is designed for a physical performance in this sense, meeting these responses with some exercise, responds naturally to what your body is doing. And this will ease you in to a deactivated and more relaxed nervous system afterwards, when the adrenaline and tension in your body is fully used and made worth while, for a good purpose.
Hormones, stress and exercise
Apart from merely adding endorphines to your blood stream, physical exercise can actually reduce the amount of cortisol – the negative stress hormone – in your body. As you may recall, prolonged exposure to cortisol can wear the body out, and have a negative effect on well-being, where as physical exercise combats this quite effectively, and constitutes a great tool of how to overcome stress.
On a pure psychological level, it may also be extremely rewarding, and a helpful way of how to overcome stress, to have a set routine of working out. If you perform an exercise that you enjoy doing, what ever this may be for you personally, you get a nice and clean break from the other events of the day. You get some time to spend just for yourself, and it’s even healthy for you at the same time.
In this way, the pure distraction of exercise, from any other type of stress in your life, is a really underestimated fact. The exercise itself, becomes almost a mental relaxation. And when you’re done, the endorphines are there to await you!
Some general benefits of exercise, as help of how to overcome stress:
Replacing stress hormones with endorphines
A mental break from everything else
Increased blood flow in the body
Less muscle tension, easier to relax
Better immune system and increased self-confidence
Potentially making you more resilient for stressful situations
The role of exercise as help on how to overcome stress
Another important thing to remember about physical exercise, when it comes to stress, is the actual effect it has on the body. Exercise can be a great tool for both reducing stress once it has occurred, but also to prepare yourself for future stressors. However, it should be kept in mind that coping with stress through exercise, is mostly focusing on what is symptomatic of stress.
By this, we mean that if you are feeling tense and stressed out a lot of the time, just adding exercise to your life is not a full solution of how to overcome stress. It is merely treating the symptoms of the problem, and if you have recurring problems with stress, then perhaps you need to find the actual cause of the problem and reduce it right at the source, too.
For more help with this, check out how to identify your stressors. That being said, exercise is a great complement when it comes to coping with stress – it just shouldn’t be the entire solution on how to overcome stress.
Preparation, and how to overcome stress in the future
There’s also been some recent discoveries, that physical exercise actually might make you more stress resilient in general. Less responsive to the highs and lows of a changing situation, and rendering you more stable as a person. There are still some uncertainties whether or not this actually applies to humans in the same way as in animals, however what is perfectly clear is that physical exercise in general – is extremely good for you.
And in addition to this, if it can help you realize how to overcome stress, that’s just another reason to lace up the running shoes, and take the first step to a healthier life.
Physical exercise can actually be a great help on how to overcome stress, and a healthy routine to have regardless. Another important part, however, is that you find a type of exercise that you actually enjoy, and find rewarding. Whether it’s lifting weights, going for a run, practising yoga or just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, the important part is that it is adapted to your particular needs. If you enjoy it, that will make it much more likely that you keep doing it regularly, and want to go back for more once you’re done.
Desperately finding a form of exercise, or thinking you have to squeeze in a work out before the day is over, could instead be countering the entire point. Exercise should never be a source of stress itself. So focus on finding something you find fun, enjoyable and exhausting – in a good way. And before you know it, you will get to partake of all these various health benefits, and a little less stressful life!