Combat Stress with Exercise
All the little things that aggravate, upset or worry you during the day can eventually lead to a period of stress. Combat this by releasing your pent-up tension in exercise.
Over the course of the day, it’s likely you’ll encounter a number of situations what give rise to strong negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety. These situations are not necessarily life-changing – indeed, they are usually such things as mistakes at work or being late for an appointment because your train was cancelled – but, if you allow the emotions to build up, you may find yourself feeling increasingly stressed.
Release the Tension
It’s easy to prevent negative emotions from building up. Besides learning to relax and talking problems through with a loved one, you will find that one of the most effective ways to combat stress is to release all the negativity of your day in a vigorous exercise or sports session. Channelling all your pent up emotions into an activity not only releases positive endorphins in your brain, but will also improve your sleep and reduce your aggression levels.
Refresh you mind and body with an exercise session designed to release the tensions you have been bottling up.
Choosing a Suitable Activity
When choosing a sport or exercise to help you release your pent up tension, it’s important that you make sure your choice suits your needs. You will need to be able to sustain a high level of effort for as long as possible, so you should choose an exercise that suits your fitness level.
The best activities are those that work best with a little aggression added. A contact sport such as boxing or an intense exercise such as step aerobics can be the perfect choice but, for those who like team sports, tennis, badminton or water polo can be excellent alternatives. Whatever your choice, make sure its one that you can use to channel your aggression into and, above all else, make sure its one you enjoy.
Your Guide to Releasing Tension
Use these tips to help you plan a routine that combats any tension and prevents it from accumulating and causing stress.
- Make some time
Ideally you should set aside some time almost every day for tension-beating exercise. If your schedule is too hectic for this, try to set up a routine that encourages you to take exercise at least three times a week, preferably at the same time of the day. Choose a time of day when your stress or anxiety levels tend to be at their peak – immediately after work is a particularly good example as it will allow you to fight the effects of workplace stress while setting you up for a calm, enjoyable evening.
- Choose a sport or exercise
Make sure to choose a sport that best suits your physical needs and also your mental ones. If you are a naturally competitive person, a team sport may be for you, but for some this can be an added stress factor and a solo activity would perhaps be more appropriate. You may want to look into available courses at your local sports centre or gym if you are interested in learning a new sport. The additional benefit of this approach is that you can try out a number of sports before settling on the one that works best for you.
- Warm up, shake out
Before you begin your exercise session, it can help to spend 10 minutes by yourself in mental preparation. The intention is for you to rid your mind of all the negative effects of stress, so you might try using this time to remind yourself of the various events that have upset you since your last session. This will help you keep these factors uppermost in your mind as you work to counteract their effects.
- Release the stress
It is entirely up to you how long you spend exercising and you may find that you will sometimes feel much calmer after only 10 or 20 minutes while, at other times, you need an hour or more. Try to keep in mind the point of the session, as this will help you focus your efforts.
- Warm down, relax
Immediately after your exercise session, you will feel calmer but more energised. Finish by taking a hot shower or a sauna and remind yourself that this downtime is for you – not the stress. Try to imagine your stresses evaporating as you cleanse your body. By the end of your exercise downtime your stresses should seem smaller and more manageable.
- Carry on with life
After your session you can return to your daily life with a more positive attitude and be less susceptible to stressors. It might not be long before the tension starts to build up again but the more often you repeat this exercise, the more generally relaxed you will find you become.