The last month or so has been rough and expensive and I’ve been constantly stressed out, waiting for the other shoes to drop.
Dishwasher broke. Replaced it.
The septic tank went out not once but twice.
My wife’s car’s widescreen had to be replaced and the same with her tires.
Her transmission went out and is waiting to be fixed.
My computer broke and had to get replaced.
My son got suspended from school…. again.
Then the bad weather on 12th April in North Louisiana night put a tree on my house. Only minor damage and we lost water and power for a bit. Safe to say this is a lot to handle by anybody’s standard
Truth be told, I didn’t handle it very well, particularly when I saw a huge tree in the yard. But as you can see by this picture my family is extremely fortunate it didn’t do serious damage. This got me thinking about the role of exercise in the reduction of bad stress.
How Does Exercise Help?
Regular exercise helps reduces your body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that is the body’s natural mood elevators.
Because exercise (of all forms) increases the volume of the hippocampus through better blood supply that improves overall brain health by improving the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients and therefore helping to reduce your stress when you’re stressed out. (1)
There are no studies to back this up and this is only from personal experience, but doing something else, like exercise, helps not be constantly in your head. And when you feel (notice I said feel not reality) everything is going against you, rather than stew just do.
Performing this one rep max test was a good way to get out of my head. It wasn’t perfect but I’ll take it.
I get it’s difficult to think about moving when the weight of the world or tree is on your shoulder but here are a few things to do when stress is getting the better of you.
Take 5-10 Minute Movement Breaks
According to Dr. Glenn Gaesser of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University, doing three separate 10-minute workouts was much more effective than a single half-hour session in reducing high blood pressure.
And if one of the reasons for your stress is not having time for exercise, the good news is you can spread your exercise, breaking it up into smaller chunks, and still get the stress-busting health benefits of exercise. (2)
Here are some examples.
But this can take any form you enjoy. Walking, yoga, stretching, housework, or even yard work. The devil is NOT in the details because any movement is good movement when it comes to busting your stress.
Doing Something Difficult
Doing something difficult will get you out of your head in a hurry because you’ll either be in discomfort or its puts’ you in the moment. Then all you can think about is how hard this is or how much discomfort you’re in. One way to do this is to exercise against the clock.
Counting repetitions against the clock and then turning it into a competition against yourself works well for both. When you’re doing this, keep track of the reps you did and try to beat it next time. This is a great way to measure your progress. Set the stopwatch for 30 seconds and do as many reps as you can with good form.
Choose from the following exercises.
However, don’t limit yourself to resistance training. Yoga, rock climbing, and yard work are a few examples of things you can do to take your mind off your troubles.
Self-massage can take many forms such as foam rolling, using your own hands, or using a golf, tennis, or lacrosse ball. Any type of massage will help relieve muscular tension and bring healing blood flow to areas of your body and all of this can help reduce your stress.
Here are a few examples
Self-massage using your hands
Believe it or not, cardio is not all about burning calories and punishment for last night’s misadventures. It will get you out of your head and help when you’re stressed out. Studies have shown people feel calmer after 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise.
All you do is strap on your shoes and go for a walk, run, jog, bike, or row and the stress will slowly melt away. Anything will work here but here is a cardio example using just your body weight.
If you haven’t access to cardio machines and or you have no place to move, then doing 30 seconds of any bodyweight exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest for 10 minutes is perfect.
Repeat for 2-3 total rounds.
Here is an example.
Marching In Place
Alternating Reverse Lunges
Running In Place
Marching In place
Alternating Side Lunges
Running In Place
Note- Almostany bodyweight exercise works in this format
Being stressed out is just a fact of life. It will happen and the question is what you are going to do about it. Take it lying down or are you going to do something to feel better. This is where exercise is so valuable for your health and state of mind. Trust me, I don’t know if I could’ve coped without it.
There would’ve been a lot of holes in the wall.