Exercise to Relieve Stress

Stress makes you feel like you’re all tied up in knots. In a way, you are. When under stress, your muscles get tense and your head throbs. You want to make the stress go away, but you feel like moving will only make it worse.

That’s not true! Exercise is an excellent, natural way to relieve the harmful effects of stress.

The worst way to deal with stress is to rely on food, drugs or alcohol. Stress eating is not only fattening but can grow into an eating disorder - particularly when stress is compounded by a depressed mood.

Alcohol is a depressant, so any effect it has on stress is temporary, leaving behind more stresses and problems.

Drugs - whether prescription or non-prescription - deliver the same problem as alcohol. Substance abuse isn’t the cure for anything.

Stress eating tends to be an overload of things like chocolate, cookies, ice cream or pizza as well as comfort foods like macaroni and cheese.

Once you start, it’s like the spoon has a mind of its own and just won’t quit. It’s better to close the refrigerator door and open the front door.

Take a walk or run if you enjoy that. If neither appeals to you, do some other soothing motion-based activity like sweeping the patio, washing the car or cleaning the windows. Choose an activity that requires motion, but very little concentration.

You want to free your mind, not clutter it. Better still, your mind will wander into something positive that is totally unrelated to the causes of your stress.

If you start thinking about work, stop and refocus on your activity.

Pilates is more advanced than Yoga and it’s a more vigorous activity that takes a high level of concentration to complete each move.

If you’re focused on your Pilates movements, you don’t have time to think about stressful things.

Dust off your bicycle and find a safe place to ride. Look for quiet streets or parks with bike paths. Pedaling around is good exercise and lets you appreciate your surroundings as you travel.

Dance to your own music. Put on some music with a peppy beat and dance around your living room. Or put on something classical and let your inner ballerina come out.

If those aren’t for you, turn to a rocker beat and have fun banging your head like you did when you were a teenager.

No one is looking, so be yourself. You’ll get exercise and probably end up laughing, which is also a physically and emotionally healthy way to get some stress relief!

Learn more about how to manage stress on my page with all the information you need on this subject: How to manage stress

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