*Disclaimer- if you believe that you need medical help for anxiety, stress, or depression, please see your doc! Exercise to reduce stress is simply my personal opinion based on my own research and personal success.
Does this sound familiar? You’re pouring your third cup of coffee for the day, and you don’t even care that it’s cold. You’re so tired and stressed. You know why, but you’re just not sure how to fix it. Coffee is amazing, but it’s not quite doing the trick.
I’ve been there. When I worked in the corporate world, I drank coffee like it was going out of style and stress and I were best friends. I didn’t workout often because my job was insane hours and I was tired all of the time.
Little did I know that not working out, drinking too much coffee, and poor sleep was making the problem worse!
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, but I took for granted that exercising my entire life had helped me feel great. When I went through my postpartum weight loss journey and got into the fitness industry as my new career is when I really started to understand the role that exercise played in stress relief.
So, how did I use exercise as my stress reliever?
Exercise to Reduce Stress Tip #1 – Find Two Types of Exercise You Like Doing
Yep, two types. So… What kind of two types? One type of exercise that will get your heart rate up and push your body and another that is more relaxing and calms your body.
Let’s talk examples.
Type 1 – Getting your heart rate up
I legitimately love going to the gym. Especially my gym because it’s well stocked and there are so many options of things to do so I can create super awesome plans for myself. Plus, lifting heavy and doing some circuits to get my heart rate up really sets my day up for success and I feel good literally all day long.
My love for running is something I also balance in as well. However, going to the gym without a plan can set you up for learning to actually hate the gym because it will seem boring and not only seem boring, your results will be minimal.
You also don’t have to spend hours in the gym, but more on that in Tip #2!
Type 2- Relaxation and Mobility
Mobility. Growing up, I was a dancer and had some pretty incredible mobility. When I stopped dancing and focused more on sports such as running and lifting as an adult, my flexibility decreased drastically!
Yoga is actually a fairly new found love of mine and I do Yoga on my off days from the gym. So, my rest days are ‘active rest days’. I don’t go hard during my Yoga sessions, they are literal relaxation and deep stretching techniques.
My stress level has decreased drastically with adding these two Yoga sessions into my week. The focused relaxation on the off days of my go hard days at the gym have made my gym days even more effective.
Exercise to Reduce Stress Tip #2 – How to Make it Work with Your Schedule
Let’s work with that crazy schedule of yours.
There have been many girls that I’ve talked to that said they want to work out but keep missing their planned work out. First question I ask is “When do you schedule it?” This question is crucial because if you have to be at work early (7AM or earlier) then planning to work out before you go to work is pretty much setting yourself up for failure, especially if you’re not a morning person. I say this because if you already have to be at work early, trying to create a new habit while going completely against your schedule is just asking for discouragement.
Try this instead –
Think about your schedule and where there is a break, even if it’s a short one. Example, what time is your lunch and how long do you have? Head out for a run at lunch, or head to the gym at lunch and do a 30-45 minute workout. Yes, you can get a great workout in within 30-45 minutes. My gym and home instant download plans are 30 days of workouts for $25 that are high calorie burning circuits to keep you moving!
There is also the option to go right after work to do your workout of choice. If your gym in on the physical way home from work, even better! That is a great way to make sure that you stay accountable and you won’t chance just driving by on the way home!
I make those two suggestions because morning workouts can be really tough on people that aren’t jumping out of bed like a flower on the first day of spring. I know this, because I’m one of them. Make your workout schedule work for you, not you work for your exercise schedule!
Exercise to Reduce Stress Tip #3– Sleep Well
Wait what? I thought we were using exercise as a stress reliever. We are! Hear me out here.
Sleep is absolutely essential to your workouts. When I do not get good sleep at night, my workouts suffer as well as my everyday life.
Plus, without quality sleep, your body does not have the proper ammunition it needs to recover your muscles to give you the results that you want.
Generally people need between 8-9 hours of sleep. I can personally attest to that being 100% true. When I get 8 hours of sleep is when I feel the most refreshed. Anymore than 9 hours and I’m actually more tired than when I went to bed!
It’s a fine balance.
Tip: create a relaxing bedtime routine and that will help you with your sleep as well.
How do you do that? I’ve got 5 tips for creating a relaxing bedtime routine to help you get your best sleep! See below!
These three steps,
I just outlined are things that I have personally used to help lower my stress levels dramatically.
In fact, a year ago, I was on anxiety medicine I was so stressed out. When I started incorporating these steps, I worked with my doctor to be able to come off of the medicine and I haven’t looked back since.
REMEMBER- I am not a doctor and I am not telling you that incorporating these steps will help you get off of medicine. You should NOT remove yourself from medicine without guidance from your doctor. Ever!
Whether you’re on anxiety medicine or not, sometimes it’s really hard to find something that works to help lower your stress level. I am a firm believer that the proper balance of exercise and rest can be life changing in more ways than one.
While I know that #3 is sleep, I actually started working on my sleep first because I was already on a good workout schedule. Once my sleep schedule was fixed based off of a good bedtime routine, the other two fell right into place.
Ever seen the movie Legally Blonde? Where she says “Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins makes you happy.” While it’s a silly analogy, it’s SO true!
Get your exercise in. Stretch your muscles back out. Relax…. And get good sleep. It might do ya more good than you realize.