Life is a rollercoaster with its ups and downs, from finances to funerals, and as such, stress is an inevitable and unpleasant feature. Stress can affect you physically, mentally and even manifest as emotional strain or tension. It can disrupt your life, interfering with how you go about your daily routine. You cannot eliminate stress from your life completely, but you can use exercise to manage or relieve stress.
Endorphins are commonly called ‘feel good’ chemicals and are naturally produced by the body’s nervous system. These neurotransmitters act as a pain reliever and happiness booster, and have similar effects to opioids. When you exercise you increase the production of endorphins, while lowering ‘stress hormones' like cortisol and adrenaline, boosting your body's ‘feel-good’ chemicals. When this happens, your mood improves because you’ll experience a feeling of euphoria after vigorous physical activity, like running.
Exercise can get you into a meditative state, causing changes in the brain that affect emotional regulation. You become distracted from the things that are weighing you down as you immerse yourself in physical activity, focused on your breathing and muscle movement. You relieve yourself of tension and negative thoughts, allowing yourself to regain focus, a sense of calm, clarity and optimism.
Exercises that are Excellent for Stress Relief
- Walking: Brisk walking is effective because it increases endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones, like cortisol.
- Yoga: With a focus on mind-body connection, yoga release tension and stress through a combination of stretches, controlled breathing, relaxation and meditation.
- Karate: This form of uplifting physical activity forces you slow your breathing and calm your mind, which aids in stress management.
- Swimming: Swimming offers a way to unwind and relax, helping to release stress and tension.
Exercise is an effective way to manage the stress in your life. It will increase the “feel good” chemical in your body, relieve tension, and improves mood.