Life is stressful. Even if you are good at managing your stress levels, there are still times when it all just seems like too much to handle. Between work, personal relationships, bank account balances, amber alerts, kidnapped school girls, rising sea waters, and cancer-enriched foods, sometimes it feels like everything is spinning and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Most of the time, the things that cause stress can’t be changed overnight, and may be out of our control entirely. The most valuable thing we can learn to do is manage stress and try to find a way to release it. Life is too short to be a constant tornado, swirling and swirling and occasionally touching down into a breaking point (natural disasters also cause me unease).
Exercise is a proven way to help manage stress. Whenever I feel as though everything is out of control, a run or a swim brings me right back down to a level I can deal with. Forcing your body to release endorphins is so important, and the happiness that comes afterwards is not something you need to train yourself or trick your body into feeling. It’s chemical. Exercising will always make your feel better.
The hard part is finding an exercise that you truly enjoy doing, and this may take a lot of trial and error. It also may take hard work. I didn’t love running as soon as I tried it (in fact it has taken me 3-4 years to even tolerate running), but each run I went on always made me feel better, even when I hated it.
This is not new information, everyone knows exercise will make you happier and will reduce your stress level, but I think it is important to be reminded every so often. As I sit at work, my stress is bubbling beneath the surface, and I need to remind myself. I may not feel completely in control right at this minute, but taking a moment to breathe, and plan my run for this afternoon are helping me relax. You can’t control every aspect of your life, but you can control how you manage it. Perspective is everything, and if you begin to change the way you look at things, you will begin to change the way you feel. So yes, the cyclone of stress in my brain may be a bit much right now, but I now know it’s only temporary, and even just having a plan to deal with it, is helping tremendously. Plan it out, run it out, and breathe.