Last week I talked about small, simple ways to relieve your stress–this week I want to talk about something I’ve got plenty of experience with: workouts that are great for tackling stress head-on. Exercise can be stressful (in fact, it puts your body through short term stress), but it’s actually a good type of stress that helps you combat the bad stress. Exercising regularly will also help your body learn to handle these short-term stresses better, too, so win-win.
There are many reasons why working out is a good way to relieve stress. It can take your mind off of what’s bothering you, the result is a production of endorphins, it helps to release tension in your muscles, it forces you to breathe more . . . I could go on. Essentially, moving your body does you good.
Different things will work for different people, but here are some of the best exercises for stress relief that we’d recommend. And we also highly recommend exercising outside, especially when the weather is nice. The outdoors can do a lot for your mental and physical health.
- Running outside: Depending on your fitness level, walking outside will do you just as good. And based on how you’re feeling, taking a longer, less crowded route might be just what you need. Sometimes, a long solitary run is the perfect solution to your problems. For me, a run is how I like to start my mornings.
- Yoga: Whether it’s a more intense form of yoga or a very relaxing, slow-paced practice, yoga is a great way to become aware of your breath as you flow in and out of movements. It’s an exercise that involves stretching your muscles and being aware of your body to maintain balance. Breath-work is what makes this so perfect for the stress-relief, though. Some recommended positions for those who need it–Cat/Cow, Child’s Pose, Thread-the-Needle, Standing Forward Fold, Easy Pose with Forward Bend.
- HIIT workout: If a vigorous workout is how you like to let off steam, this is for you. You can get your heart rate up and start sweating off your stress in under 10 minutes. It can feel good to work off the negativity with short bursts of intense movements, and we’re here for it–literally.
- Hip, back, and shoulder mobility work: When we’re stressed out, we carry A LOT of tension in these areas. Stretching out your hip, lower back, and shoulders will do a lot for you. Especially if you’re mostly sitting at a desk all day and not paying attention to how you’re sitting. Look up some easy stretches that you can do during the day. There are a lot of good ones that target these areas.
- Boxing: Duh. Well honestly, any sport that you enjoy will be good, but I can’t imagine any other sport feeling as gratifying as punching something with your fists. While most people assume that boxing is all about letting out your anger, it actually calls for a lot of focus, calm thinking, and patience if you’re really trying to learn how to do it right, so it’s a mix of both. Regardless, if you want to let off some steam, boxing is definitely the right sport.
Next time you skip a workout because you’re not in the mood, remember that it might actually help you reverse the negativity, or at least give you a break from it. So try not to give in to your emotions and do one of these workouts instead! You’ll be glad you did.