The short answer? Yes.
But we should probably delve a little deeper than that; and discuss exactly what type of training is going to be most effective at calming us down, after a frantic day at the office.
But first, what’s wrong with a little stress?
Aside from the obvious answer that it’s a thoroughly unpleasant mood to be in, there are also deep underlying health concerns associated with increased stress levels, such as:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Decreased muscle mass
- Increased body fat storage
- Reduce immune functionality
- Increased risk of depression
So whilst you might think it’s something you should just ‘power through’, and you’re convinced you’re ‘embracing the grind’- in reality you’re doing yourself far more harm than good if you don’t acknowledge and address your stress levels.
Alright, so how do we know if we’re ‘stressed’?
It seems like an odd thing to say, but I’ve more often than once been clearly agitated and at a higher stress level than normal, and not noticed until a colleague pointed it out.
(Bear in mind they pointed it out in a helpful, friendly way- not in a judgmental ‘You’re so damn stressed’ manner).
Sometimes you can be so worked up and absorbed in the very thing that’s causing you stress, that you’re unable to take a step back and recognise you might be a touch overwhelmed, and need to address it.
Such signs to look out for that can tip us off that we’re nearing dangerous stress levels are:
- Trouble concentrating
- Issues with sleeping
- Reduced appetite (or) Increased cravings for sugary foods
- Shorter temper
None of which are enjoyable symptoms of what oftentimes is a larger problem.
So how can we address our dangerous stress levels?
As the blog title would have clued you off to, one of the primary and most effective methods of receiving stress is physical exercise.
But, before we get into the profound effect increasing your activity levels will have on your body and mind, let’s quickly touch on a few other tools that can contribute to helping you relax:
- Meditation (If this sounds a little too ‘Woo-woo’ for you, don’t worry, we’ll offer a modern method of achieving this later on)
- Unplugging from electronics (Check emails and messages once or twice a day at set time- no more being controlled by that ‘ping’ in your pocket)
- Spending more time in nature (Anecdotal here, but nothing relaxes me quite as much as a walk in the woods, or a dip in the ocean)
- Creating a schedule (Overwhelm is a huge factor in stress levels- if you feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions at once, consider sitting down and setting a plan and routine out that which will avoid multi-tasking, and keep you on track whilst reducing the mayhem that occurs when too many things are happening at once)
- Limiting your caffeine intake (Feeling stressed and drinking 4 coffees a day? Coffee in moderation is great for you, in excess? Not so much)
These will all have a positive effect in helping you chill out- but still, exercise and movement is king when it comes to ‘resetting’ our brains functionality, and bringing you back to planet ‘sense’.
Why will exercise help us so much?
Exercise Releases Feel-Good Endorphins
Getting into the gym and moving weights around, or going out for a few sprints or a short jog all contribute to the release of ‘happy hormones’.
The endorphins your body produces naturally in reaction to a good training session work to counter the impact of a stressful life.
So whilst it might be tempting to sulk on the sofa after a hard day in the office, it’s almost always better for us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get in a training session to help mitigate the negative emotions stress provides.
Training Increases Productivity
Sir Richard Branson himself accredited a huge boost in productivity to the time he takes out in the morning to exercise; such a boost in your effectiveness at work and life will also be a contributing factor in fighting elevated stress.
So if you’re becoming stressed due to the overwhelming amount of paperwork piling up on your desk, getting in for a 30-minute training session before work might be the perfect solution to help declutter our mind (and your ‘In’ tray!).
It Will Improve Rest
As we briefly discussed earlier; poor sleep is a symptom of higher stress levels- and in a somewhat ‘Chicken-and-the-egg’ situation, that same poor sleep can also be the cause of stress.
Not only will a lack of shut-eye cause you to feel lethargic, groggy, and generally less enthused with life, it can also cause poor regulation of the stress hormone- cortisol.
Cortisol is our ‘fight or flight’ hormone, which was very useful back in the day where we’d spot a sabretooth tiger and have to sprint away from it to avoid becoming it’s lunch.
The secretion of cortisol causes our parasympathetic nervous system (that is to say, bodily functions we don’t often think about, such as digestion) to shut down, so that all of our energy can concentrate on not being eaten.
This was great for when such life or death scenarios were a little more common place- but in 2017 it’s not as necessary- meaning that it’s poor regulation and peaks and troughs caused by poor sleep cause us ungodly amounts of stress.
We can counter this via exercise- training, as I’m sure you’re aware, makes us tired. Being tired, to state the obvious, is pretty important for getting to sleep. Hence the importance of exercise in increasing the quality and duration of our beauty rest- and therefore having a large impact on reaching our stress levels.
It’s A Form of Meditation
I mentioned earlier we’d cover a way to reap the benefits of mediation without having to bulk buy yoga pants and candles- by hitting the gym.
Mediation, in one of it’s purest states, is the act of focusing on one, single thing at a time- for example on your breath.
The act of focusing 100% of your attention onto a single thought, action or task does wonders to drown out all other concerns of life, and give your mental space a little more room to breathe.
If you’re in the gym and struggling to press a bar away from your, or grinding out the last few reps of a squat, do you think you’ll be able to focus on much else?
Training offers your mind the chance to turn it’s attention to a single task, if only for the 40 seconds it might take for you to complete a set. As you become more experienced and accustomed to the practice however, you’ll find that complete focus is present throughout the entire 40 or so minutes you’re in the gym- which has a profound impact on reducing stress levels in everyday life.
So What’s the Best Way to get into The Exercise Habit?
Firstly, any exercise is good exercise, so don’t become discouraged if you’re unable to commit to hours and hours of training.
For example, something as simple as going for a twenty minute walk every lunch time can have a huge impact on calming your stress levels- as could be making the choice to bike to work, or start swimming at the weekend.
Now if you had a little more time to commit, and wanted to greatest stress relief in the most efficient way possible, weight training is your answer.
By lifting weights (and don’t worry- this doesn’t mean you’ll get ‘bulky’) you’ll produce the highest amount of hormones that will contribute to your happiness. And you’ll get the best results in terms of body composition, so that’s a plus.
As little as three, thirty minute sessions a week could be the difference between pulling your hair out behind your desk, or your workmates starting to refer to you as the Office-Ghandi.
And if you’d like to relieve even more stress from the process, and ensure you’re doing everything right, then get in contact with me today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary assessment and taster session or a complementary online taster programme – where I can promise you we’ll deal with not only your stress, but also any and all fitness, physique and wellness goals you can think of.