As we have seen already, change is inevitable. It comes along in many guises, and can cause stress and anxiety. So as well as accepting that it is a part of life, you need to establish ways to cope with change and the effects it has on you. One way of doing this is through regular exercise.
Most people are aware of the many physical benefits of exercise, but don’t realise that it is great at helping with mental health. Exercise is an effective stress reliever that can help you deal with changes that are affecting your life. Cast your mind back to when you last did some regular exercise – do you remember that good feeling you had?
Regular exercise has been proven to lift depression, ease anxiety, and reduce attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also helps improve your memory, assists you in getting more sleep (as well as a better quality of sleep), and lifts your mood too.
I’m not suggesting you hit the gym every day. But why not go for regular walks? If you have a pedometer or fitness tracker, then you should be able to target a certain number of steps each day (10,000 is the recommended number). Got a dog? If so, you will be well on the way to that in no time.
If you are not a dog owner, then perhaps a walk at lunchtime, or in the early evening? If you are a commuter is it possible to get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way to work or home? Take the stairs rather than the lift – as you can see it is easy to fit more walking into your day.
Shape magazine recently published a great article on walking, and what to do if you aren’t in the mood for going for a walk. I’d recommend reading this afterwards.
My partner has recently got a rescue dog, and so we can now easily fit walks into our routine. We have to, otherwise Paco gets a little crazy! But do you know, we are both much more relaxed in general as well as losing inches off our body – which can’t be bad.
Exercise As Medicine
Exercise releases endorphins into your system, “feel-good” chemicals that can put a smile on your face even in tough times. Exercise also acts as a natural pain reliever, so if you’ve been coping with physical health changes, working out could be just what you need.
Exercise improves mental wellbeing in several ways. If you exercise with other people or as part of a team, you will have the added benefit of socialising with others. It’s also a great self-care method – something you can do for yourself.
If you take a friend along with you to the gym, or out for a walk or run, you can motivate each other, and you may make other healthy changes in your lives too, such as healthy eating changes.
Having a hard morning at work? Rather than skipping a lunch break and continue working at your desk while munching a sandwich, give yourself a break. Walk round the block – the exercise and fresh air will clear your head, maybe give you a different perspective with a problem.
If you get a chance to walk through the woods or a park, this can add a whole new level of relaxation and inspiration. The fresh air and nature will improve your breathing and release toxins. Exercise will also give you more energy and confidence, ready to tackle any current issues you are going through.
Many of us are sleep-deprived in the modern world, so better sleep that exercise brings, will lead to more mental focus and a better-rested body and mind.
Don’t Forget The Kids
Whilst we are looking at exercise to cope with change, it is easy to forget that our children also go through lots of change. New schools, changes in friendships, maybe family relation changes can all have an effect on children. Finnish researchers tested 258 children on the effects of exercise on stress and concluded that it helped tremendously.
It seems as well these days that whilst technology has been great in many aspects of life, children also rely on technology to keep themselves entertained. Many children these days don’t go over the park for a kick about or other exercise with their friends, like we used to do. Personally I was always out doing some sport during the holidays, usually just meeting friends for football, cricket or tennis on an ad hoc basis.
You may have reservations about letting your children out unsupervised, but that is all the more reason to get out with them yourself. So turn off the TV, Playstation or gadget of choice, and get them used to exercise from an early age. That way they will be used to it more when it becomes more beneficial – the dreaded teenage years.
And when it comes to exam time, perhaps they can split revision sessions up by walking the family dog, or maybe an hour swimming or other exercise with friends. Even if they get into the garden and trampoline, hula hoop or skip, this exercise all counts. This will help them relax and be refreshed for their next session of study.
Dog-walking and bike rides are perfect examples of things you can do together. For more exercise suggestions for children, check out this article from Sarah Flynn.
Make Time For Exercise
When we’re stressed, it’s easy to feel drained and wondering how to find time to fit exercise in. It then becomes one of the things that we skip in our daily schedules. As we have seen above, walking is one of the best exercises available, and needs nothing more than a good pair of shoes.
Use the examples above to add steps to your day, and see what a difference it can make to your level of stress and your level of confidence. What other ways can you think of? Get creative, and share your ideas in the comments, so that others can benefit too.
Making time for exercise means taking charge of your life, and taking charge of your life means you will be better prepared to cope with any changes that come your way, no matter how big they are.