Between managing multiple summer schedules and busy workloads, you might find that stress has taken up a permanent residence in your life. At times, stress can be useful or motivating — it can drive you to go above and beyond to get that promotion at work or pull off the perfect summer family reunion. However, if stress is a constant in your life, it can negatively affect your job performance, family life, and health. In fact, more than 70 percent of Americans say they experience real physical and emotional symptoms from it.
When you are in a stressful situation, your body launches a physical response, releasing hormones that prepare you to either” fight or flight.” With short-term stress (known also as acute stress), you may notice that your heartbeat speeds up, your breathing gets faster, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. Acute stress is temporary and your body quickly recovers. However, if your response to stress stays activated over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to serious health problems.
One of the best ways to relieve stress is exercise — being physically active boosts feel-good endorphins and is an excellent distraction from problems and daily stresses. The benefits of exercise are endless: exercise helps to create and foster confidence, it can relax you, and improve your sleep. Furthermore, study after study has confirmed that exercise eases the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.
Here are some exercises that can help ease stress:
- Yoga, a mind-body exercise, can strengthen your body’s natural relaxation response and bring balance. For stress relief, do gentle yoga or yoga for beginners.
- Pilates can improve posture and flexibility, and improve mental awareness. It releases tension in the muscles while using calming breathing techniques.
- Gardening can be a workout! Working in the yard or garden for about 30-45 minutes a day can burn anywhere from 150 to 300 calories.
- Outdoor activities can be the answer to all things stressful. Taking a bike ride, going for a run, or swimming laps in the pool can improve your mood and clear your mind.