International stress awareness week is taking place from the 7th to the 11th of November. It aims to raise awareness about stress management and prevention whilst campaigning against the stigma associated with stress and mental health issues.
Stress has a huge impact on society with 74% of the UK adults saying they have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. The most common cause of stress is work-related with 79% saying they frequently felt it. A recent study conducted by HSE UK found that there were 590 cases of stress per 100,000 workers for men and 920 cases for women, meaning that women workers are one and a half times more likely than men to suffer.
Exercise is a great way to provide stress relief by increasing your body’s production of endorphins. It can help to promote relaxation, confidence and reduce negative effects of stress like high blood pressure and hypertension.
We’ve put together a list of stress-busting benefits to show you why exercise is the best remedy!
Increases your production of endorphins
So, what are endorphins? Well, endorphins are proteins that reduce pain and emotional stress and trigger “good” feelings. A recent study conducted by Gardner found that shorter bouts of moderate-intensity exercise, 15 to 20 minutes a couple of times a week, can bring about a steady state increase in endorphins. This function is often known as ‘runners high’, although any cardio-based activity, such as tennis, swimming or exercise classes can contribute to the same feeling.
Relieving symptoms of stress
Common stress symptoms can include fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and headaches. Whilst it may not be possible to completely get rid of stress, it is possible to prepare your body to respond safely to stressors, and physical activity can help. Your body helps to ease these symptoms by producing cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that quickens your heart and gives you a boost of energy.
Whilst aerobic activity is well known for promoting feelings of positivity, yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and calmness. It provides a “time-out” from stressful situations and can even help to lower anxiety levels. Plus, it has the added benefit of being able to be carried out anywhere and everywhere! Yoga can help reduce stress because it promotes relaxation, which is the natural opposite of stress.
Exercise can boost your confidence by creating a sense of achievement. Whenever you exercise your personal worth increases because it gives you a feeling that you have done something productive rather than sitting passively and brooding stressful situations.
Exercise doesn’t have to be something you force yourself to do! Find an activity you enjoy – whether it’s a gentle walk or a sweaty session in the gym! Include it in your daily or weekly routine to help you de-stress, unwind and relax.