Stress has become a huge part of our lives today. From kids to adults, everyone seems to use the words – I am stressed – almost on a daily basis. Kids are stressed by exams, class routines, peer pressure, unhealthy home environment among other reasons, while adults are bordering on break down levels just trying to manage finances, home, relationships and work. It seems ironic that all the things that are supposed to give us happiness and pleasure are the very cause of our stress.
And now living amidst the storm of uncertainty that the COVID 19 pandemic has created, it is imperative that we make self care a priority.
Often people end up with a number of diseases, and the doctor who is equally stressed for time writes out a prescription and also tells them to make lifestyle changes, diet modifications, take up exercise.
Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. It is now common knowledge that exercise lowers levels of anxiety, stress and depression. But how exactly does it do that? By the way, I also know many people who are stressed by the idea of having to exercise. Yet the truth remains that exercise plays a key function in your well being. Here’s how: Raising the heart rate can actually reverse damage to the brain caused by stressful events. Stress atrophies the brain which is also responsible for your memory. You may notice that when you are stressed you tend to forget things. Exercise promotes the production of neurohormones that improve cognitive function, elevated mood and learning. If you have to put it simply, exercise actually makes you smarter. Research suggests that greater reserves of the neurochemical helps the brain communicate with the body, and the body has an improved ability to respond to stress.
The more sedentary we are, the less efficient is our body in responding to stress. Something as simple as going for a rigorous jog, brisk walk or bicycling can cause immediate stress reduction. Those who exercise will note that post workout the sense of wellbeing is higher with better mood, memory and more energy freed up. However, this is temporary, making it important for us to make exercise a necessary aspect of our daily life.
Aerobic exercise is the key to the wellbeing of your head just as it is for your heart. Getting into an exercise routine may seem difficult at first, but the more you get into shape, the more you will enjoy it. Regular aerobic exercise brings remarkable changes in the body, metabolism, heart and spirit. It will exhilarate and relax, and it will dissipate stress.
Almost any type of exercise will help. But start today and start knowing that you will commit a small part of your day to your personal wellbeing. Start in moderation, don’t compare and keep progressing. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it’s an active boxing class, a relaxing yoga session or a meditative meander on your terrace — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity will help you unwind and ease stress.
For highly stressed people, I would also suggest meditation, light stretching and progressive muscle relation techniques.
Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.