If you’re suffering from work-related stress, you are not alone. In the UK there were 487,000 reported cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the 2013/14 period alone. Workload pressures, interpersonal relationships and changes at work have been reported as contributors to these work-related illnesses.
When faced with these difficulties at work, it’s important that you take the time to find ways to relieve stress. While there are several stress management techniques out there, but one of the best ways to relieve stress is through exercise.
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How Does Exercise Relieve Stress?
We all know that exercise provides several benefits, but how exactly does it help to relieve stress?
People who are physically active have been found to have lower rates of depression and anxiety, compared to those who are sedentary. Some researchers have pointed towards a possible link between exercise and the production of brain chemicals associated with stress, depression and anxiety. Exercise promotes the production of norepinephrine and other neurohormones, which are associated with improved cognitive function, learning and elevated mood.
It’s not just about the production of chemicals, however, as researchers believe that exercise also boosts your body’s ability to respond to stress. During exercise, you force your body’s physiological systems to communicate more closely, essentially giving those systems a workout. These same systems are involved in responding to stress, so the more you exercise, the better your body is able to respond to stress.
Even moderate exercise has been found to immediately improve your mood and mental outlook, with effects lasting several hours. So, if you’ve been looking for stress relief techniques, then exercise should be at the top of your list.
How To Relieve Stress With Different Exercises
The NHS recommends 150 minutes of physical activity for adults’ aged 19 and over every week. You need to be doing exercise in which you work hard enough to increase your heart rate and break a sweat. Remember, even moderate levels of exercise will help with stress.
You can do moderate-intensity aerobic activities, such as riding a bike, walking fast or water aerobics. There’s even an NHS Fitness Studio with online videos you can do from the comfort of your own home. Free videos, podcasts, health loss guides and gym-free workouts; you really have no excuse.
Exercises that help to relieve stress
If you’re looking for specific exercises to try out, the following are great for helping you to de-stress.
Yoga: This exercise is perfect for helping you to deal with stress, as it’s an exercise for the mind, as well as the body. It focuses on slow, steady movements, gentle stretching and deep breathing, helping you to feel focused and relaxed. The best type of yoga for stress is Power yoga, Hatha yoga and Satyananda.
Tai Chi: Like yoga, Tai chi involves slow, flowing body movements paired with breathing exercises. It is used as a way to condition the body, calm the mind and reduce stress by emphasizing relaxation and concentration techniques. This low-impact sport is safe for people of all ages and fitness levels, so it’s perfect if you’re just getting started.
Pilates: Pilates are great for improving circulation, posture and flexibility, without taking a toll on your body. This refreshing mind-body workout teaches you to execute movements with maximum power and efficiency. It emphasizes proper breathing, which can really help to reduce stress.
Kickboxing: This combines martial arts with cardio for a high-energy and incredibly efficient workout. It’s one of the most effective exercises for burning fat and helps to tone your entire body. It involves controlled kicking and punching movements and is great for improving coordination, flexibility and balance. Plus, it’s a great outlet for releasing your anger and frustrations.
Team Sports: Team sports offer you social contact, which is a necessary part of any stress management routine as it helps to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of relaxation. When you are part of a team, you develop a feeling of camaraderie as you all work towards the same goal. If you need motivation to workout, being part of a team can be just the motivator your need.
Outdoor Activities: Being outdoors has a positive impact on your mental health, allowing you to de-stress. You get the most benefits from sunlight and breathing in fresh air. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, which also helps to elevate your mood. Try combining exercise with the outdoors by going for a run, bike ride or taking part in an outdoor team sport, such as football or baseball.
High-Energy Activities: These are great for getting your heart rate up and releasing endorphins. A few high-energy exercises you can try include dancing, spinning and running. Try signing up for a class at your local gym or download a running app to get you started.
Top Tricks To Get You Motivated
So, now you know how to relieve stress with exercise, but the real trick is getting started. Finding the motivation to start exercising isn’t always easy, even when you know that it provides so many benefits. Here are some tricks to not only help get you started, but also keep you going.
Make it a long-term goal: While exercise has been shown to provide immediate benefits, you should be aiming for a long-term commitment. The goal is to help regain your mental and physical health for the rest of your life, not just today. Commit to it for the long term and don’t worry too much about short-term gains, the benefits will soon become apparent.
Make it a part of your schedule: When you’ve got so much going on, it’s easy to convince yourself that you simply don’t have the time for exercise. Stop making excuses and make the time to workout. Doing as little as 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 time a week will make a difference, so try squeezing it into your schedule somewhere.
If you prefer to have a lie-in in the mornings, try working out after work instead. Find a time that works for you and try and commit to doing at least 3 workouts a week.
Find a workout buddy: Team sports are great for keeping you motivated, but if you’re not keen on team sports you should try finding yourself a workout buddy. Not only do you get the positive effects you get from exercise, but you also get the benefits of social interaction and support. If you have someone else going through the same thing with you, you’re more likely to keep going by motivating each other.
Mix things up: When you’re constantly doing the same workout, it’s easy to get bored. Try mixing things up by trying out something new every once in awhile. Not only will it keep you more interested, but it will also help to challenge different muscles in your body.
Before long, you will start to notice the positive effects of exercise. Not only is it a great way to stay in shape, but it will also help you to better cope with the stresses of the workplace.