SELF HELP RESOURCE - Self Development / Stress Management

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Any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief, and why exercise should be a part of your stress management plan.  

Detoxification of Stress Related Compounds: When subjected to stress, biochemical reactions take place in our bodies, in preparation for physical 'fight' or 'flight'. In modern times, most human stress is psycho-social in nature, so the need to respond physically in most cases is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the by-products of the stress response continue to circulate in the body and have the potential to create physical illness (e.g., the impact of cortisol secretion on the immune system). 

Regular exercise is useful in removing the by-products of the stress response by providing the opportunity to simulate the fighting or running dictated by the fight or flight phenomenon. As such, regular exercise allows the body to return to homeostasis (a state of balance) faster and reduces the physical impact of psycho-social stress. 
 
An outlet for Anger and Hostility: Exercise provides a socially acceptable means of physically releasing negative energy. Whether hitting a tennis ball, punching a bag, or jogging, the physical release of energy appears to dissipate feelings of anger in a healthy way. 
 
Moving Meditation: Certain forms of exercise (jogging, walking, swimming, hiking, and cycling) require a fairly consistent repetitive motion. Described by some as moving meditation, the physiological effects of regular participation in these activities are very similar to what happens when one practices meditation. The regular breathing and movement may in part be responsible for the feelings of calmness and tranquillity many experience after exercise. 
 
Enhanced Feelings of Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy: Appropriately high levels of self-esteem increase one's ability to cope with high stress levels. Exercise cultivates self-esteem and self-efficacy in several ways including: 

* You feel good knowing that you are participating in a health-enhancing activity. 

* There is a social value attached to participation in physical activities, especially with increasing emphasis on fitness in the media. 

* Physical exercise has the potential to improve your confidence in yourself, and this in turn improves your self-image and increases self-esteem. 

*The fact that you have conquered physical challenges ('I walked 3 km today' or 'I worked out for an hour') fosters feelings of self-efficacy. 
 
Periodic Solitude and Introspection: For some, exercise is a solitary escape from the daily toils and pressures of a stressful society. An early morning run, cycling in the countryside, or walking by yourself provides a mini-vacation and allows you to recharge your energy levels to deal with conflicts when you return. Some use this time to think about issues of importance or to stimulate creative problem-solving. 
 
Opportunities for Social Support: Social support provides an excellent buffer against stress. Taking part in team games like cricket and football or even joining an aerobics class or going to the gym with friends encourages a sense of fun and play with other individuals who have similar interests. It can also provide opportunities to discuss life situations which helps you recognize that you are not alone, and help is available for the asking. 
 
Reduction of Muscular Tension: During stress, muscles contract and lose their normal resting muscle tone. Bouts of physical activity allows muscles to work, thereby releasing stored energy and allowing muscle groups to return to their normal resting potential. This action also reduces further stress that is precipitated by pain and discomfort associated with muscular tension (e.g., tension headaches, arthritic joint pain, and backache). Stretching and yoga are also effective in reducing muscular tension. 
 
Endorphins: Catecholamines including endorphins have been shown to increase during physical activity of twenty minutes or more. Chemically similar to opiate compounds, this morphine-like substance has been shown to provide an analgesic (pain relieving) effect and promote a sense of euphoria. The positive mood states associated with frequent exercise are so significant that some have suggested that this is a more effective treatment for clinical depression than either psychotherapy or the use of anti-depression drugs. 
 
Improvement in Sleep and Rest: A symptom of stress overload for some is the inability to sleep or get adequate rest. A fatigued individual is less able to perform at a high level. Exercise has been shown to be very effective in helping some individuals fall asleep easily and sleep more soundly. The assumption is that one is not overdoing physical training and becoming exhausted from the activity. 
 
Fitter to Fight Stress and Disease: One who is physically fit has organ systems that are functioning at an optimal level. If this individual should become ill, injured, or even pregnant, they will demonstrate more stamina and greater resiliency to fight the discomfort. It is also likely that fit individuals will recover more quickly. 
 
Stressed-out individuals often complain that they do not have time to exercise. But did you know that a high percentage of CEOs of fortune 500 companies indicate that they exercise on a regular basis? Don't these folks have anything better to do with their time? It is more likely that they have learned that they can be at their best only when they make the time to sweat and get their hearts pumping. 
 
So, what are you waiting for? Get moving! 

If you would like to discuss this further or need some help or support in this or any other area, our counsellors would be happy to help. 

 

Latest Comments

55996 on 21 Jan 2023, 15:55 PM

Nice Article ! Thanks you.

Suchismita_ on 07 Nov 2022, 11:47 AM

Very helpful article

narasimhiah on 27 Jun 2019, 23:27 PM

Nice article

ncsharma on 13 Jun 2019, 11:50 AM

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dhakekp on 28 May 2019, 15:14 PM

Nice article

Endurance on 22 May 2019, 17:15 PM

Nice one

happylama on 17 May 2019, 11:34 AM

Nice article.
Being honest and owning up things will make you a better, stronger and trust worthy person. Believe me, by being genuine , you will only gain more rather than loosing, even after making a mistake.

SESA378187 on 08 Apr 2017, 08:54 AM

Very good article....with practical approach!

agarw on 23 Feb 2016, 14:13 PM

great article to read on...thanks a lot!!!!

loveislife on 11 Nov 2015, 12:11 PM

good and thank u so much