When you are looking for solutions for chronic stress management, exercise is always at the top of the list. My problem is…it goes in one ear and out the other. I have heard it so often that I am basically immune to the suggestion.
But, desperate times call for desperate measures. So I decided to take it up. For me, walking a couple of miles is exercise. In fact, I’ve just recently upped my game and I jogged.
And it is helping. I am definitely a better version of myself when I exercise. If it’s working, I wanted to know why, so I thought I would write about it! Last time we talked about the impact of stress. Today we’re going to delve into the first chronic stress management solution: Exercise.
Why Does Exercise Work?
It releases endorphins
Endorphins are hormones, secreted in the brain and nervous system, that act as an analgesic and provide a feeling of well-being, or relaxation at the very least. You may have heard about the ever elusive “runner’s high.” Endorphins are responsible for this, but it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as feeling “high.” I’ll settle for contentment.
When you are exercising, it is nearly impossible to multi-task. You are moving your body in the present moment. Although you may be thinking about other things, or even watching television, you really only are responsible for moving your body in the here and now. You aren’t able to make the kids’ lunches, make a business call or write an email. You are present, doing one thing in this moment.
It is a physical meditation
Through physical movement, your body is able to release tension that you’ve been holding onto. There is a cellular change to our bodies when we experience stressors, big or small. Our bodies don’t just forget about the accumulated stress, it has to find a way to expel it or hold onto it. Remember, energy cannot be created or destroyed. That means any negativity (which is energy) will either have to stay in your body or be released.
It makes you stronger and gives you confidence
I’m not even talking about toning the body or changing it in any way. I’m simply referring to the feeling of empowerment that a good workout gives you. I know when I don’t want to do that last mile (okay, it might be my only mile), and I hold on until the end, I feel so in control and capable. This was really hard, but I did it. If I did this, then I can do (whatever is stressing me out at the time).
Next week, I’ll delve into another solution for releasing and managing stress. If you missed the last blog on the impact of stress, you can find it here: Chronic Stress. In the meantime, keep your heads up and forge ahead!