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Kick stress into touch!

Kick stress into touch!

Let’s face it - modern life is stressful. Relentlessly depressing world news, job insecurity, excessive working hours, long commutes, financial problems, dissatisfaction with our appearance, relationship issues, all conspire to make us fearful, anxious and stressed. No wonder then, that there is a huge increase in people going to their doctors because of feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope.

Although a certain amount of stress can be positive, motivating us to try harder and overcome obstacles, too much stress can have a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing. It can weaken our immune systems, cause serious illnesses such as heart disease, and make us feel constantly worried, unhappy or angry. It can lead to low self-esteem, insomnia, chronic anxiety and mental ill health.

However, before reaching for the bottle of wine, comfort eating or asking your GP for anti-depressants, just consider the proven benefits of exercise in helping you manage stress and appreciate the positive side of life.

  • Physical activity improves blood flow and your body’s ability to use oxygen, releasing endorphins. These are neurotransmitters in the brain that act as natural painkillers and produce a feeling of happiness and euphoria, putting your worries into perspective. Even 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

  • Exercise tires you physically and helps you sleep.

  • Studies suggest that exercise works as well as medication in reducing anxiety, depression, and even ADHD. One vigorous workout can alleviate symptoms for several hours, and regular exercise can have long-term beneficial effects.

  • Relaxation techniques, incorporated in exercise disciplines like tai chi and yoga, can calm you down, relieve stress and boost your mood in a positive way. Swimming too can be a calming and soothing activity.

  • Exercising in nature – whether walking, cycling, running or gardening – can be very therapeutic, putting petty worries into perspective and helping you see that life is good and that you need to make the best of the short time available to you.

  • Exercise makes your body stronger, more energized and healthier, reducing feelings of physical inadequacy and insecurity.

  • Joining a gym or taking part in sports, and the social interaction that goes with such activities, helps you build a network of friendships, so you feel less alone and more able to discuss your worries. As the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved”.

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