Physical exercise has been well-established as a fantastic stress-busting activity. Not only is getting enough exercise instrumental in keeping our bodies and minds in the best shape possible, but keeping fit can work wonders on our self-esteem and confidence levels.
In addition to getting into a great physical shape, exercise has also been shown to be highly effective in reducing stress and a whole host of other mental health problems, including releasing tension, reducing anxiety, and helping with depression.
When exercising, our bodies release endorphins (“happy hormones”), which don’t just make us feel more upbeat but also actively fight feelings of stress. Exercise is also a great way to take your mind off whatever is bothering you and gives you the space you need to clear your head.
Generally, people looking to use exercise for stress relief will go to one of two options: calming, mediative workouts such as yoga, stretching, and mindful movements, or more high-intensity activities, such as kickboxing, that offer a chance to release negative emotions healthily.
You don’t need to be a fitness expert or pay hundreds of dollars on a gym membership that you’ll never use to enjoy the stress-busting powers of exercise. With these exercises, you can kick stress to the curb with minimum equipment from the comfort of your own home.
Yoga practice has been gaining untold popularity in recent years as the general population wakes up to the benefits of “mindfulness” and moving with purpose. In yoga, each movement is backed up with a sense of control and full-body awareness that enhances our mental focus and builds strength and flexibility with every routine.
There are loads of yoga tutorials for beginners and more advanced yogis on YouTube, so you may never need to spend a cent on classes if you don’t want to, and you can always take out your mat for a 15 minute – 1-hour yoga session whenever the mood takes you.
2. Tai Chi
Tai Chi was developed from an ancient Chinese form of martial arts: Tai Chi Chuan. It’s a little similar to yoga in that it can be described as a “moving meditation” and involves a series of gentle, fluid routines that link your movement to the breath for a stress-busting, peaceful workout.
Tai Chi can be practiced anywhere, with absolutely no workout equipment required. Not only is it a fantastic workout for calming the mind, but it is also remarkable for increasing your body’s flexibility and strength and can even strengthen your immunity. From a mental health point of view, Tai Chi has been acclaimed for boosting energy levels, improving sleep quality, and enhancing participants’ general well-being.
If yoga and Tai Chi are a little too slow for you, but you like the idea of moving with purpose, Pilates could be a perfect stress-relieving exercise. This workout is designed to build strength, improve flexibility, and enhance endurance. While some movements and mindfulness are similar to yoga, this workout is classified as anaerobic (not quite as vigorous as aerobic exercise, but still more active than stretches) and is an excellent stress reliever.
You can usually find a Pilates class at your local gym or follow along to a YouTube or DVD tutorial. All you need is a mat for a quality Pilates practice, but for more intensity, you might want to add some additional equipment, such as a Pilates ball or resistance bands (like the ones from Victorem) to really feel the stress-busting burn.
Because Pilates is quite a demanding exercise, experts recommend that beginners start with a slow practice to build the strength, flexibility, endurance, and mental clarity needed for a more intensive workout.
Anyone experiencing stress and anxiety probably doesn’t need to be told why kickboxing is an effective stress reliever… But it’s good for much more than letting out some aggression on the mat.
In kickboxing, you utilize controlled punching and kicking movements with discipline. This means you’re not blinding beating up your “opponent” but are practicing vital life skills while releasing plenty of energy, anger, and emotion healthily.
Kickboxing also offers a fantastic rigorous workout and will help you improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination as you build strength and tone the body. There’s no downside!
Dancing is a fantastic way to release endorphins and bring a smile to a stressed-out face! But dancing (in your kitchen, nightclub, or in an actual dance class) is much more than a bit of fun!
Whatever dance style you prefer, moving your body to the beat is a great way to tone the body and clear the mind. It’s a pleasant distraction from daily stresses and offers a whole host of health benefits for your body and mind!
If you’re really stressed out and simply not in the mood to exercise, heading out for a walk is an outstanding way to calm your mind and get a bit of physical activity without realizing it.
Even just pacing around your apartment for 10-15 can offer a surprising number of benefits for your body and mind, but getting outdoors is even better!
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed out, pop on your sneakers and head for a quick walk around the block. Or try one of the other exercises on our list to enjoy the excellent stress-relieving benefits.
A happier mind and healthier body? What more could you ask for?!