Today, I am very proud to present an article by Haley Perlus, Ph.D. Sport & Exercise Psychology and Certified Fitness Professional. I had the opportunity to meet Haley last year in person and can confirm, the walks the talk.
As some of might be furloughed or having less work than usual at the moment (while other don’t know where to start), talking about stress might sound weird. But let me tell you, that stress is less a result of being overloaded – but more of being overwhelmed – which might be the case for some of us for different reasons. So don’t stop moving – mentally and physially – as it can help you in coping with your stress – not matter of which nature it might be.
Have fun reading, and thanks to Dr. Haley Perlus!
Author: Haley Perlus
We’ve all experienced those days when stress rears its ugly head. One stressful event can set the tone for the entire day, perhaps the rest of the week. The harder you try to ignore it and keep powering through, the worse the negative thoughts, feelings, and fatigue get, wreaking havoc on your nutrition and overall health. The good news is that physical activity can immediately shake off the blues, freeing up mental space and energy to tackle your to-dos and even have some fun while you’re at it.
Here are three reasons why exercise should be one of the primary tools in your stress toolbox:
- EXERCISE ENHANCES YOUR COPING SELF-EFFICACY
Stress is what we feel when we believe we’re not in control or that we can’t cope with a certain situation. Exercise helps because it gives us a quick boost of confidence to successfully meet the challenges at hand. It provides the perfect opportunity to immediately master something meaningful–be it a 30 minute walk outside with a friend, discovering handstand in yoga, performing a quick set of pull ups, etc. In turn, these feelings of mastery help us to feel in control of the rest of our day.
- EXERCISE GIVES YOU A HEALTHY “HIGH”
When we do something that feels good, our bodies release chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, endorphins, and serotonin. Together, these chemicals produce a “high” that carries emotional energy as if to say “more please, because that was soooo good!” In the past, you may have experienced these highs in an unhealthy way by making late night visits to the pantry for your favorite carbohydrate binge that always leaves you low on energy and even more stressed from overeating. Just as dopamine is released while eating a bowl (or carton) of ice cream, it’s also released during a fabulous indoor cycle or yoga class–this time producing a healthy high with the added satisfaction from getting your fitness in that day.
- THE STRESS BENEFITS FROM EXERCISE LAST
Sometimes when we feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, all we want to do is plant ourselves on the couch and take a nice quiet break for an hour. Although an hour rest will reduce anxiety; to stay positive and energized for the rest of the day, using that time to exercise is the better choice. Whereas 40 minutes of quiet rest will improve your mood for up to one half hour, 40 minutes of exercise will improve your mood and create more energy for up to 24 hours.2 This is not to say that you must exercise for at least 40 minutes. Just know that time spent exercising, compared to the same amount of time devoted to rest, will give you longer lasting benefits.
Researchers continue to investigate the best types of exercise for coping with stress. Be assured that anaerobic, aerobic, short, and longer bouts of exercise will all help you reduce muscle tension, positively change your mood, and enhance your feeling of self-control. What’s more important than the type of exercise is that you choose the exercises you enjoy.
Other than that, it’s all good!
About the author
Since she was 12 years old, Dr. Haley Perlus aspired toward a career in Sport Psychology. Within one year of earning her Ph.D., at the age of 28, Dr. Haley became a professor, public speaker, consultant to national team and division I scholarship athletes, published author, and was appointed an industry leader. An entrepreneur, former elite Alpine ski racer, fitness pro and coach, she understands the difficulty of overcoming mental blocks so that you can quickly and consistently get results. Dr. Perlus educates, motivates and inspires people to reach their peak potential in sport, wellness, and business. Taking a unique 3-D approach to performance enhancement, she not only encourages you to dream big, she gives you the steps and answers you need to make those dreams come true.