“Sometimes you have to be a duck and let things roll off your back”
That’s what I told a co-worker last week when she had a stressful day and blew a fuse.
I’m an IT business consultant and I rarely do IT work. My day is spent motivating, guiding business transformations and defusing emotional outbursts. The majority of my time is spent managing stressful situations and advising people play nice.
Stress. It’s an unfortunate reality. It’s part of life and we all have it. Whether it be work, health, money, family, illness or life we all experience stress. Stress is always there. Looming in a corner like a snake, ready to attack. Like a boiling pot of water, ready to boil over. Stress is a constant battle and undoubtedly stress impacts health.
Stress increases risk for:
- Heart Attack
- Chronic Illness
- Prematurely Aging
I’m a self-confessed stress-pot. I stress over the smallest things and sometimes knowing I’m stressed, makes me more stressed. One of the many reasons I exercise is to control my stress so I am better equipped to handle it. By the way, I have some of my best workouts when I’m stressed. My weight training is at it’s best when I’m angry.
The good news….exercise can help control stress. Fitness has many benefits and most people don’t realize it’s benefits for managing stress. Don’t for a minute believe I’m perfect. I’m not. I have my moments. I’m your typical type A personality – controlling, über organized, impatient, over-achieving perfectionist. I battle stress everyday.
These happy feelings are the chemicals released by the body during exercise. They are natural pain killers that give a “high” feeling with moderate intensity exercise. Working out has also been thought to have a positive impact on emotions. The happy feelings help you let go of negativity and focus on moving away from it.
Exercise (i.e. running, biking, swimming, walking, etc.) requires the body to perform rhythms. Repeating these rhythms relaxes the body and mind. The rhythm is familiar to the body and has a calming effect.
Exercise gives you a mental time out. Have you ever received email that makes you angry, type a snarly response, hit send and a few minutes later wished you hadn’t? Yeah….that never turns out good.
Exercise helps compartmentalize feelings and work through facts. When I receive a nasty email & need to formulate a politically correct response, I take a mental time out and workout. I take a walk around the building or I wait to respond until after I workout. When I have a problem I don’t know how to solve, I workout. The answer always comes to me when I workout.
Fitness teaches us to push our bodies beyond it’s limits. Training through physical pain is mental. Overtime you learn to distract yourself or “zone out” from physical activity. Exercise teaches self-control to push through the stresses of fitness. When I was losing weight four years ago. I taught myself to control my stress and re-direct my negative energy to fuel my workouts. The point is you can train yourself to control stress and how you react to it just like you’ve trained yourself to tie your shoes.
In so many ways, fitness has been my savior. It has made me a better athlete, employee and friend. Fitness has made me a better person.
So next time stress hits…be a duck and hit the gym. I promise you won’t regret it. 🙂
What do you to control stress? What do you do to relieve stress? How many times have you been stressed this week?
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