Ways to reduce stress when exercising
Whether you have a high-pressure job or simply have a lot going on in your life at the moment, it's normal to feel as though everything's on top of you and become a little stressed. If this sounds like you, it's best to try and not dwell on the negatives and look into the future with an optimistic mind.
What's more, don't just sit and do nothing. Instead, get up and active because exercising can help to reduce feelings of stress. This is because when you exercise or carry out physical activity, the body releases endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers – that work to diminish feelings of anxiety and stress.
But simply performing exercise won't instantly make you less stressed. There are a number of things you can consciously do to help reduce stress when exercising. Why not try some of the following?
Don't overdo it
While it's vital to exercise regularly, it's equally important to not push yourself too much. Making your body work past its limits can exert unnecessary pressure that can cause you to feel even more stressed. Moreover, pushing your stressed body too hard can take its toll on your cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.
Not just this, but if you also push yourself too far, you may end up struggling and begin to feel that you've failed, which can lead to feelings of self-pity.
Instead, carry out gentle to moderate-intensity exercises, such as yoga or walking in a scenic location. This can help to clear your mind and relieve muscle tension.
If you're carrying out moderate exercise, it's likely you'll begin to work up a sweat, which will increase your heart rate and breathing pattern. In this instance, it's important to keep track of your breathing.
It's no good breathing in and out in quick succession, as this could cause you to panic and feel as though you're losing your breath. Therefore, when you begin to feel out of breath, stop exercising for five minutes, sit down and inhale and exhale deeply. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
You should begin to feel less tense and a lot more relaxed.
Take time out
Working a busy job can take its toll on your body, both physically and emotionally. While you might feel that you have to work through your lunch hour in order to complete more work, it's important to make the most of this time by taking a break from your work.
Sitting in front of a computer screen all day can reduce concentration and productivity levels, so make sure you use your lunch break to go outside on a brisk walk. Stepping away from your desk into the fresh air will make you feel more refreshed and ease your mind from any work-related strains.
Upon returning to your desk, you should feel much more ready to tackle your afternoon tasks.
Listen to music
If you find that you can't concentrate properly when exercising in silence, it may help to tune out from the outside world by listening to music. This can help you to focus your energies on the beats of the song and sync your workout to them, rather than thinking about your worries.
What's more, music isn't the only thing that can help you to destress; listening to podcasts is a great way to unwind while exercising. These can be funny, informative and highly engaging, contributing towards keeping your mind at ease.