Thursday 12 March 2020

How To Combat Stress - Exercising Through a Hard Time

   Life, by definition, is dynamic, both biologically and figuratively. We can be thrown all kinds of curve-balls in life, like losing a job or getting a promotion, having a child or discovering you can't, losing a loved one or getting married. But stress, in all its forms, is the single reliable factor in all of the above, and while that isn't in our power to control, learning how to deal with that stress, on a physiological level, is.
   Cortisol is 'the' stress hormone. It induces fight or flight, but in this world we've made for ourselves, we face it for the silliest (biologically speaking) of reasons we neither have to fight against or flee from. And it's getting our bodies trained up in a way that we can better handle it that will reduce the impact of its effects on us - especially when we face it far more than we ought to, for far less than good reason.
   Exercise is key in a healthy body, and a healthy body can handle hormonal shifts far more easily than an unhealthy one. It also helps to relieve stress with the release of endorphins. And, with the added benefit of putting your body through controlled stress, like exercise and especially strength training - something difficult that you choose to face and will be able to overcome with flying colours - your body will become better adapted to handle more unexpected stress later down the road.
   This article from F. Joe covers some of the easiest ways to combat stress during difficult times.


   Life is rarely easy, and it’s hardly ever predictable. Sometimes when we feel like things are going well, suddenly, the rug is pulled right out from underneath us, and everything changes. Our finely balanced routines are lost, our mood suffers, and we feel stressed out and emotional. It can be hard just to go on as though nothing has happened. 

   Unfortunately, bad things happen. We lose jobs, a marriage breakdown hits us, we face large, unexpected expenses, or someone that we love becomes ill. There’s not always anything that we can do to prevent these things from happening. But we can do our best to cope with them. 

   One thing that could get you through these kinds of hard times is exercise. Regular exercise doesn’t just keep your body fit and healthy, it can also improve your mood and mental health, boost your confidence, help you to sleep, give you a fresh perspective, and just give you a sense that you are doing something for yourself. Exercise can also give your social life something new, and help you to work through your confused thoughts. It can be a powerful tool when you’ve got a lot going on. Here are some things that you could try.

Workout Early in the Day 

   When your mood is low or you are going through a tough time, it’s easy to start putting things off. You might cancel social engagements or even avoid going to work. Exercise is very easy to put off. But, you are more likely to go through with it if you get it out of the way early in the day. Go for an early morning run, practice yoga, or even head to the gym first thing in the morning. Then, it’s done, and you’ll feel better about yourself all day, enjoying the residual adrenaline rush.

Practice Yoga Before Bed

   Sleep is often one of the first things to be affected when we are struggling with something. We lie awake at night worrying, thinking about possible situations, and what we need to do. We struggle to turn off, and then everything is worse the next day because we’re tired.
   Practicing yoga before bed can help to relieve tension and relax your mind. This could help you to fall asleep more easily.

Join a Group or Class

   Exercise can also have a social benefit. It can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Even if you only say hello or smile at people, it can give you a boost. It also gives you an event each week to look forward to, which helps time to pass. Joining a fitness class, sports team, or group can be an excellent idea.

Join an Online Community

   If you find the idea of joining a group intimidating, or it’s otherwise not possible, you can still become part of an online community. Join fitness forums, find health and fitness blogs to follow, and look for accounts on Instagram. Reaching out to people online can be a big help when you are in need of a friend.
[ABE's note: some of my favourite Instagram fitness people - qualified people, not 'influencers' - share science rather than fads and gimmicks, reliable workouts, and the honest truth that a bar of chocolate absolutely will not de-rail you are Ben Carpenter, Katie Crewe and Sohee]