Posted on Apr 7th, 2006

What is stress?

Our body is subjected to constant changes in the environment that affect us both physically and emotionally influencing the way we feel, behave and react in various situations. This weathering that the body undergoes under varied pressures of life is stress. Although stress is the root cause of many common health disorders, it isn’t always harmful. Increase in stress upto a certain level boosts productivity. Stress can motivate an individual to win a race or perform well academically. This is positive stress which encourages the individual to improvise and achieve goals which he would not have accomplished otherwise. But when the level of stress overwhelms us and exceeds a certain limit, different biological responses are triggered resulting in increased heart rate, headache, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, muscle tension, rashes, ulcers and accelerated breathing which might lead to life threatening health disorders. Major trauma like death of a loved one, events like losing friendship, having a baby, credit card debts, high electric bill, relocation to a new town, academic failure, loss of a job, marriage, falling hair, rush-hour traffic, annoying boss or neighbor, parenting teens, chronic illness, heavy responsibilities, performing before a huge audience or a new relationship- all can produce stress which bring about negative effects on the body. So, no stress as well as too much stress, both are harmful. One must find the balance and utilize stress for his benefit and improvement.

Stress and the Exercise Connection

Researchers are working around the clock to gain command over stress or fight it more efficiently. Since it is detrimental to health, relationships and life as a whole, it is essential for every individual to take charge and manage stress. To beat stress and make life more relaxed and peaceful, there is no alternative to exercise.

Exercise is fun.

Identify what activities you enjoy the most and try to include them within your daily routine. Exercising builds up your physical reserves and helps you fight stress more efficiently. You should exercise at least four times each week for thirty minutes each session. Any time best suitable for you can be the time for exercise. Simple repetitive exercises like cycling, swimming, jogging, walking, hiking, racquet sports, dancing, skiing and aerobics are some of the best known stress busters. Doctors of patients of depression often recommend these exercises to free the mind of tension. You should rejoice in any kind of exercise activity otherwise it will feel like a chore and gradually you’ll abstain from it. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after you start your exercise program to avoid injury. Gentle stretching exercises are considered best for the warm ups and cool downs. Exercises help you sleep better and start a whole new day with new vigor and an enhanced feeling of self-esteem.

Shape up and build confidence.

Shed those excess fat, control weight, tone your muscles, increase flexibility, rejuvenate skin and radiate confidence through exercises. Ward off stress while exercising moderately at a comfortable pace and slowly speed up to improve stamina and efficiency. Burning calories fuel you up with new vigor to energize the body throughout the day. When you are full of confidence you trust yourself and accomplish those goals you thought were impossible to achieve.

Stay healthy.

Poor health is one of the leading causes of stress. Regular exercise improves blood circulation and promotes oxygen supply to the vital organs of the body thus strengthening the immune system, lungs and heart which in turn fight diseases more efficiently and the body becomes less vulnerable to various health conditions. Exercise boosts liver functions, digestive activities, metabolism, intestinal movements and kidney functions thus keeping constipation, diabetes and arthritis at bay. Exercise makes you feel better and live happier.

Change your focus.

A daily exercise regime keeps your mind off of the mundane routine and stressful thoughts and channels your energy for productive purposes. You mind stays alert and occupied with the potentials of the brighter side of life. Combat stress and enjoy the beauties of life.

Indulge in restful exercises.

Do whatever is good for you. Take positive steps to reduce stress. Laugh aloud with friends and family, go for an outing or just soak in the tub with some aromatic oils or rose petals. Determine the stress causing elements and be creative in finding solutions befitting your hectic schedule to not let them hamper your life. Sit by the fireplace and quietly watch the dancing flames, stroll on the beach and soak in the sun while enjoying the beauty of the sea, gently pet your favorite animal, lie in the backyard in a hammock, sit by the lake, watch the sun go down behind the pine trees, look at the star-studded night sky or simply play with your kids. Keep your mind engaged with matters other than business or family if they bring about stress in your life.

Try the deep relaxation/meditation techniques of Yoga.

The rewards of yoga are endless, both physically and mentally. Practiced for centuries, yoga, whose other word is meditation, massages the internal organs as well as energizes the soul. Essentially, regular exercise of yoga can magically treat stress and various health disorders. It stimulates the muscles in the various body parts in a non-strenuous manner and brings about flexibility in those areas which were never so much worked upon before thus lubricating the joints, ligaments and tendons comprehensively. Muscles are admirably toned by gentle stretching and massage which facilitates blood circulation in the entire body. This, on the other hand, detoxifies the body by quick elimination of wastes from even the farthest corners of the body thus keeping a myriad of infections and health disorders at bay. Active blood circulation also means efficient transport of nutrients which attributes to prompt healing of wounds, delayed ageing, a boost in stamina, improved digestion, dodging disability, enhanced breathing, rejuvenation of skin and radiation of confidence. You will discover a new vigor in life. Most importantly, the goal of yoga is to attune body with mind and soul.

Many yoga exercises are easy and have a magical effect on the students performing yoga. Regular practice of yoga will relieve you of physical pain and stress giving you a positive outlook towards life and enlightenment of soul. It is the exercise of the body as well as the mind. Thousands have been aroused by yoga’s magical touch and have benefited from it. In essence, the centuries old healing process of yoga will transform your life at the spiritual level.

Practice these moderate exercises.

Workplace is the main culprit source of stress in most cases. So, here are some workplace stress busting exercises that are very easy to follow routinely-

1. Deep breathing:

Inhale deeply. Fill in your lungs with as much air as possible, then exhale. A fresh dose of oxygen will recharge your batteries.

2. Neck roll:

Roll your neck clockwise and then anti-clockwise 10-15 times each way. This relieves tension around the neck and shoulder regions. The same can be achieved by looking left, as far back as possible and then looking right the same way. Repeat 10 times.

3. Rub:

Gently give yourself a neck and shoulder rub. Find yourself revived.

4. Bends:

Stand up with feet 1 foot apart. Lift your arms. Gently bend backwards and forwards, left and right, 5 times. This stretching exercise is great for the back muscles which get easily strained because of sitting at the same spot for hours.

5. Chest stretch:

Stand tall with feet 1 foot apart. Lift and stretch your arms straight and forward. Slowly inhale to the fullest while moving your arms to the sides. Keep arms at the same level. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale and bring the arms back together to the front. Feel the relief.

6. Hand stretch:

Interlock fingers. Extent arms forward at shoulder height and palms facing out. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This stretches shoulders, hands, wrists and upper back and relieves tension around them.

7. Back stretch:

Stand tall with feet 1 foot apart and hands on the waist. Twist your upper body and turn back as much as possible. Hold for 5 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat with the other side. This is particularly good for stretching the middle back.

Any exercise is stress relieving. Actually when we exercise, the brain releases endorphins, that are natural painkillers which give a sense of being healthful thus enhancing the overall mood and of course, that will make you sleep better. So, start exercising and get rid of stress sooner than later.

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