31 Jan

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed? Are anxious thoughts keeping you up at night? 

You're not alone. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults yearly!

While pharmaceuticals may be one option for dealing with your stress, they often come with side effects that can be just as harmful as the condition itself. 

Fortunately, there is a natural way to help regulate your stress levels: exercise! 

Read on to learn how exercise can benefit your mental health and help you live a happier and healthier life.

Exercise & Stress

Most often than not, we find ourselves stuck in a rut. We are deprived of the movement our bodies so desperately crave and as a result, we feel dull and stressed. 

Our moods are labile, our energy is zapped, and we just can't seem to focus. But it doesn't have to be this way! 

Just by including some exercise into our weekly routine, we can easily change how we feel. 

Exercise gets our blood pumping, helps to improve our mood, and gives us more energy. 

In fact, a study has shown that even just a moderate amount of exercise can have dramatic effects on our mental health. 

And really, it does make sense, because, during exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. 

In addition, exercise can help to increase energy levels and improve our sleep quality. 

All of these factors combined can help to reduce stress and improve our overall sense of well-being. So next time you're feeling down, remember that a little bit of exercise might be just what the doctor ordered.

So next time you're feeling down, don't reach for the comfort food, and don’t dwell on depressing thoughts.

Choose one of these activities instead!

#1 Weight Lifting!

A lot of people might not think that weight lifting is a good way to relax, because of its intense nature.

But it actually may just be one of the best ways to unwind and manage stress!

When you lift weights, you are creating a powerful stimulus for the body, that boosts you on every level - physical, mental, and spiritual!

In addition, weightlifting can help to increase your strength and stamina, which can give you a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and higher self-esteem. 

And finally, working out can help to clear your mind and give you a break from every day worries. 

With that being said, if you're looking for a way to relax and unwind, don't discount weightlifting - it just might be the perfect solution for you.

#2 Outdoor Activities

Most people have been told at some point in their lives that they should spend time outside. 

And while there are myriad reasons why this is good advice, one of the most important has to do with stress management. 

When we spend time in nature, surrounded by the beauty of the trees, flowers, and wildlife, it can help to reduce the levels of cortisol in our bodies. 

Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress, and it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. 

In addition, spending time outdoors (and especially in the sun) can help to increase our levels of serotonin, which is a chemical that helps to promote feelings of happiness and well-being. 

As a result, spending time in nature can be an effective way to manage stress and improve our overall health and wellbeing.

Pair time outside with exercise activities like hiking and jogging, and you’re on the highway to a well-regulated mood!

#3 Diving

Ever wonder what happens to your body when you take a deep breath and hold it underwater? 

Well, there's actually a science behind it! This reflex is known as the mammalian dive response, and it's an autonomic response that occurs in mammals when they are submerged in water. 

When the body senses that it is underwater, it triggers a series of physiological changes that prepare the mammal for diving and ultimately, help it survive!

The heart rate slows, blood vessels constrict, and the pace of the body drops, as a whole. 

Though this is a survival response, all of its characteristics, lead to one logical thing … The feeling of relaxation and oneness!

Furthermore, that feeling is intensified, when you are observing the beauty of the underwater world.

So next time you're feeling stressed and have some water body nearby… Go for a dive!

#4 Social Sports

A lot of people when they think of exercise, they think of going to the gym and working out by themselves. 

And while that can be a great way to relieve stress, it's not the only way. Social sports can be just as effective when it comes to managing stress. 

Not only do you get the benefits of physical activity, but you also get the benefits of social interaction. 

And that social interaction can be key to relieving stress. 

When you're playing a sport with other people, you're bound to interact with them and that can help to take your mind off of whatever is stressing you out. 

Additionally, the endorphins that are released during exercise can also help to improve your mood and reduce stress levels. 

So next time you're feeling stressed, consider joining a social sports team. It might just be the workout you need.

Final Thoughts

And so, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, don’t forget to reach for your running shoes, diving mask or gym apparel!

Because exercise is a great way to manage stress and can have long-term benefits for our mental health. 

What are some of your favorite exercises? Do you find that they help reduce your stress levels? Let us know in the comments below!