The autumn to winter transition season doesn’t just mean Halloween, Thanksgiving, pumpkin pies, football games, and end of the year shenanigans. You have to get your finances in order, have enough money left over from those finances to afford Christmas, and have enough after Christmas to last you to the next quarter. You have an intense time of pre-exam studying and final assignments due if you’re in school, finishing up projects at work, and holidays, of course, means stress to the maximum.
Though you love holidays, it means 17 cousins ranging from ages 2 to 16 sprinting around the house, your spouse’s parents criticizing everything you do, and that obnoxious brother with whom you have a constant love-can’t stand-relationship just, well, existing. It means preparing extravagant meals that everyone expects you to nail even though you only make it once every 365 days, or so. It means setting the adult table and the kids table up perfectly or face scrutiny, cleaning the house and making it livable in guest rooms, digging up your blow up mattresses, and stocking up on enough coffee. That’s just Thanksgiving. Don’t get us started on Christmas, Chanukah, Bodhi Day, Saint Nicholas Day, Rohatsu, Solstice, Mawlid el-Nabi, Zarathosht Diso, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, St. Lucia Day, Boxing Day, Omisoka, Yule, Saturnalia, and so many more.
Bottom line, you’re busy — extremely busy. While everything is going down: your energy levels, the amount of space left in your house, the extra time you have for yourself, and the number in your bank account, there’s one important statistic that is constantly rising. Your stress levels around this time of the year, however beautiful it is, are skyrocketing.
There are many ways to deal with stress. Some ways are deemed worse, or unhealthier, than others, such as smoking, drinking, binge-eating, etc. Some just simply don’t work. However, exercise has been a scientifically proven way to gain therapy and lower your stress levels, even when you feel like there is really nothing that can be done to help.
Exercising on a regular basis can reduce the feeling of fatigue, improve your focus and concentration, and in general, boost your overall cognitive function. Chemically speaking, exercise releases these endorphins that have an overall positive effect on your brain, and therefore you. They are seen as natural painkillers, which releases endorphins to help you sleep and reduce stress.
Here are the amazing benefits of exercise on stress levels. We hope that it gets you moving when you feel like you’ve had enough.
1.Get Those Endorphins Up.
These are neurotransmitters that make you and your brain feel good. There’s a reason why those crazy people who run six miles every day do what they do. Well, of course, there are the physical benefits, individual goals, staying in shape, etc., but these runners can easily become addicted to the “runner’s high”. This feeling is another name for those endorphins that kick in and make you forget that you actually hate running.
2.It’s a Mental Thing.
Not only do your endorphins kick in, but no matter what you may be going through, exercising can help you forget. The more complicated the sport or game is, or the more focused you have to be to complete it, the better. Exercises that have you paying attention to your form, for instance, like weightlifting, is a great distraction for those stressful situations. Concentrating on the movement of your own body takes enough mental capacity on its own, where you have to focus on your body more than your mind so much that you often find yourself forgetting about everything else.
The stress you feel in your body is similarly related to that fight or flight situation. Though stressing out about where your sister and her husband should park their mini-van because the neighbors hate cars blocking their yard doesn’t exactly require a physical reaction, the fight or flight reaction is still there. Of course, you may need to crank out a sprint if your cranky, old neighbor is making his way to her car with his cane, but hopefully, that isn’t going to be the case.
The antsy feeling you get when your stressed with anxiety and jitters is a direct proof of those fight or flight chemicals, but unfortunately in this day and age, (or fortunately, because it doesn’t mean we have to get out of the path of an extremely hungry and fast wild boar) our stress usually doesn’t have to do with anything physical and doesn’t require a physical reaction. However, exercising is a great way to take away those jitters and anxiety.
Exercise releases all sorts of chemical reactions loose in your brain. These effects are beneficial to not only your physical health but also your mental stability. Exercising and physical activity, when done on a regular basis, increases the ability your body has to use oxygen, which means more brain power! Exercise also helps improve the flow of blood.
4.Help You Deal with All Those Things You Have to Do.
What if we told you that there was an easy way to feel more energetic and get amazing sleep, without worrying about what your great aunt thinks of your version of her pumpkin pie?
Getting exercise tires you out and can help you get to the point of an adequate amount and high-quality sleep every night.
Here‘s how it works: Exercise increases the temperature in your body, and when you are finished with your workout, your body temperature drops, which causes extreme fatigue and helps you sleep. Exercise can also help you sleep better because it overall decreases arousal, anxiety, and depression.
As for being more energetic, not only is it beneficial to have a great night of sleep the night before a big, stressful day, but exercise actually has direct effects (beneficial ones!) on your levels of energy. Exercising on a regular basis can improve your fitness and cardiovascular health. Since your lungs, heart, and all those functions that work together are improved, there is going to be more blood and oxygen getting to all parts of your body. This flow is important to have the energy to take on your day.
5.If You Aren’t Going Solo, Stress Can Make You Interact with People Who Aren’t Your Annoying Family Members.
Of course, you love them, but sometimes it’s just great to get away from whatever you’ve got going on at home and hear about other people’s problems. You might even realize what you have under your roof isn’t all that bad, after all. Interacting, socializing, and having fun exercising with others is also great stimuli for your brain.
If you feel like the holidays’ buzz, studying for exams or trying to finish piles of paperwork is really getting the best of you, maybe the best thing to do is invest a bit in your body’s health AND your mind, and just go out for a run. There are so many ways that you can exercise and it doesn’t have to be intense either. A light work out can be just what you need to get your endorphins running and your stress levels down.
Comment below on what exercise is your go-to when you are feeling stressed. Also, for our community, let us know what else you do to combat stress that is healthy and fun.