Research shows that stress worsens or increases the risk of many common diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, Alzheimers, obesity, gastrointestinal problems and asthma.
It seems that there is some weight behind the phrase “you might worry yourself sick”, but let’s not get stressed about being stressed.
There are a wealth of stress management techniques that are scientifically proven to improve your ability to manage stress and boost your mood.
Fight Or Flight Response
You may have heard of the fight or flight response, our body's hardwired defense mechanism that served us well throughout our evolutionary history.
When the brain perceives a threat, it sends signals to your body to release hormones that fasten your heart rate and increase your blood pressure.
This is the fuel that helps you deal with the threat, and in this heightened state you can adapt quickly and think on your feet. Your body is ready to either dart off into the distance, or face your threat by fighting it off.
Once you have dealt with the threat, your body is supposed to come back down to a state of relaxation. Your heart rate is supposed to decrease and your blood pressure comes down.
The stress on your body has gone and your mind is able to relax, free of anxiety until the next threat comes along.
Unfortunately, the way we are currently living means our stress response is always running. Our brain perceives a multitude of threats throughout our day, starting with the brutal morning alarm, through to the stressful commute, the deadlines, money worries, looking after the family, worldwide politics and constant bad news.
But there is a natural way of hacking your biology to release hormones that will relieve your stress and give you the mental health hygiene cleanse that you need.
The Truth About Movement
Humans have a huge tool in our arsenal that has long been overlooked, skewed for the wrong reasons, left out of education curriculums and just generally poo pooed as a genuine mental health and stress manager.
It’s really as simple as: MOVEMENT.
For too long, we’ve had movement promoted as a means to LOOK a certain way; for purely materialistic and aesthetic reasons.
This can lead to:
body image issues; aversion to exercise for fear of guilt and shame; dropping in and out of fitness according to weight loss goals or image-based objectives; neglecting movement as an ongoing lifestyle necessity; lack of education around the mental health benefits of exercise; lack of knowledge around bodily issues, aches and pains, postural issues and more.
The list goes on.
But it’s time we reframe movement (exercise falls under this category) as a health necessity.
We need to see movement as a fundamental part of our lives, day in day out.
We can use exercise as a means to mental and physical hygiene, ensuring that we aren’t only treating issues but preventing them happening in the first place.
Here are some astonishing benefits of exercise:
Releases Feel-Good Hormones
You might have heard of the phrase ‘runner’s high’, but you don’t need to be a runner to feel the mood boosting effects of aerobic activity.
When you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters called Endorphins and these trigger positive feelings and can boost your mood, leaving you feeling more energised and optimistic about life.
Wards of Feelings of Anxiety and Depression
Research shows that exercise is an effective but underused means to treat mild to moderate depression. Additionally, if you’re exercising outside you’re exposing your skin to the sun which can help boost your Vitamin D and your mood.
When you’re in the midst of an exercise routine that challenges your mind and body, you will need all of your focus to get through it. This is a response we hear regularly from our clients; that mid workout, they are thinking about nothing else.
This will leave you with a feeling of calmness after a workout and a sense of renewal for the tasks that lay ahead in your daily life.
Reduces The Negative Effects of Stress
Exercise can be a great outlet for stress as it mimics the flight or fight response, enabling your mind and body to deal more effectively with stress through practising this coping mechanism together.
Furthermore, this will have excellent physical health benefits, including improved cardiovascular, immune and digestive system function.
Moving Back to Movement
Our lifestyles have moved so far into “being in comfort” that we are becoming unable to deal with discomfort. This includes emotional and mental discomfort.
Working your body physically gives you an opportunity to reconnect mind, body and soul, pushing your mind to deal with the discomfort and your body to react to the stressor.
Making regular movement an intrinsic part of your everyday life is bringing you back to your nature, as a moving, flowing entity, able to deal with the ebbs and flows of life as they come.
So get moving. Whether it’s long walks, YouTube workouts, swimming or yoga, let’s reconnect our mind and body and remember our true nature.
If you need some guidance and motivation, we offer both mobile and online personal training sessions catered to exactly what you need.