How Exercising and Mental Health Help in Stress Management
Modern-day life is quite stressful for people from all walks of life. Add the global pandemic, jobs, school, and relationships to the mix of life, and you find yourself with one stressful situation.
Stress levels are so prevalent to the point where seven out of every ten adult Americans suffer from it daily. While some people might have developed coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, you must understand just how much stress affects you. The importance of stress management cannot be emphasized enough.
How Do You Know You Have Stress?
According to research conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2008, patients experiencing stress reported mental and physical conditions as stress symptoms. In today's life, you can look out for other physical symptoms of stress, which include:
- Indigestion or acid reflux
- Muscle tension, especially around your shoulders, neck, and face
- Sleeping problems- could result in a lack of sleep or sleeping too much.
- Loss or increase of appetite, which results in weight loss or gain
- Dizziness and feeling generally tired
- Aches and pain, especially at joints
- Clenched jaws and grinding teeth
How Do You Deal with Stress?
Stress is inevitable. Therefore, you need to find a way to manage stress before it leads to even worse mental and physical health conditions.
Among the highly recommended practices in managing stress is exercising both the body and mind. So, how do exercising and mental health help in managing stress?
Benefits of Exercising
Regularly exercising your body results in improved body condition and immunity, and scientists from the Harvard Medical School support this claim. One significant activity you are encouraged to participate in is aerobics. These are what you know as cardio exercises. Aerobic exercise examples include:
- In-line skating
- Cross-country skiing
Although they are hard to start and maintain, one of the most significant benefits of aerobic exercise is that it can single-handedly improve your mental health condition. Maybe you are asking yourself, how does exercise reduce stress?
Regular exercise is beneficial for many reasons. Some of them include:
- Improved metabolism
- Stimulating and calming your body and mind
- You get in shape, which is good for your heart and spirit
Now, how does this relate to coping with stress?
Once you get into exercise mode, your body alters its neurochemical combination. What this means is that your stress hormones or cortisol levels drop. Also, your body produces less adrenaline, which could be keeping you in fight-mode.
As these hormones decrease, increased metabolism helps generate energy for the brain to produce endorphins. These are hormones that elevate your mood and help numb the pain. So, by the time you finish cardio, you feel relaxed and optimistic about life. This is how working out for mental health can aid in a better quality of life.
The moment your body's metabolism increases, you start burning calories and losing weight, which also depends on several factors. However, you notice your body being stronger and your stamina increasing. In turn, these results boost your confidence and pride as they instill a sense of mastery in you.
With renewed energy, you can perform better at work, school, home, or competitions, which takes out a large part of why you are stressed.
And that is how you manage stress through exercise.
Mental Health and Stress Management
Although stress is not a mental health disorder diagnosed by a psychiatrist, unmanaged stress levels could result in severe mental health conditions. And this goes two ways: Just like stress can cause mental health, mental health problems can also result in stress.
Taking care of your mental health can help manage stress levels. According to Dr. Herbert Benson from Harvard Medical School, there are four basic steps to follow as a grounding exercise:
- Choose a time when you will be free from distractions.
- Get comfortable- choose a comfortable position that lets your mind relax.
- Relax your mind and aim at a passive mental attitude, which means you block out visual stimuli.
- Concentrate- you could use a mantra or simple words of reassurance and let your mind go.
One of the standard mindfulness exercise practices following the guideline is meditation. Overall, mindfulness bases stress reduction can be an excellent method to reduce stress.
Your physical and mental health play an instrumental role in your well-being. On the other hand, stress could result in some severe conditions for both body and mind. That is why finding a good stress management technique is crucial. Through body and mental exercises, you can manage stress and lead a better and more fulfilling life.
About the Author
Sara Anderson is the head of content for the EzCare clinic, a medical clinic that provides world-class health care services. She has been associated with the healthcare industry for over ten years and specializes in health care and medical content.
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