Stress Awareness month is upon us again, and provides an opportunity to bring attention to the ways that we can manage stress in our lives.
What is stress
Stress is commonly defined as how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we don’t feel we can manage or control.
Most of us will experience stress in our lives at some point. Eliminating stress from our lives entirely may be unrealistic. However what is far more important is how we deal with that stress. The good news is there are a diverse range of activities and approaches that have been proven to both reduce stress and to help us to manage it more effectively.
Find your coping strategy
Each individual will tend to gravitate towards the coping strategies that are the best fit for them and that they can fit into their lives with the least amount of disruption. Whilst there are plenty of effective and specific options to choose from such as meditation, deep breathing and visualisations, there is one particular strategy that affords more choice than any other. That strategy is physical exercise.
How physical activity reduces stress
Physical activity reduces the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators. So we know exercise is effective at reducing stress, but the best thing about it is the vast array of different ways that you engage in it.
Khody Damestani, Co-founder of mental health company, MyMindPal shares his thoughts….
‘There is now a body of evidence that physical activity reduces stress. When most people think of exercise, they think of the gym. Whilst gym based activities such as yoga or aerobic classes or weight training may be great for some, it may not the best fit for others.
If that’s the case then perhaps you could consider other options such as surfing, swimming, walking in nature, martial arts, or team sports. No other stress reduction strategy offers the range of choices that exercise does. By engaging in regular exercise not only will you be reducing your stress but you will also be reducing your risk of experiencing a range of mental and physical health conditions in the process’.