Endorphins make you feel good, which is why working out tends to elevate your mood – it floods the body with those endorphins. So physical activity in general tends to reduce stress and make you happy, but certain activities go the extra mile in terms of stress reduction.
Yoga is an amazing workout that combines the body and the mind. Instructors instruct you to free your mind of stresses and worries before each session. You sit on your mat, close your eyes, and release yourself of your day-to-day thoughts, leaving yourself clear. You’re instructed on deep breathing and concentration which helps your mind as much as it helps your body.
It might seem easy to an outsider, but this low-impact exercise will make you sweat. You’ll learn poses that focus on balance, strength, and flexibility. Each pose can be modified for your own fitness level and abilities. This workout can be modified based on your other activities to strengthen certain muscle groups as well. There are certain poses to help runners, poses to strengthen trouble areas, and poses to strengthen the core.
Jogging might seem like a rather basic and boring workout, but the great aspect about jogging that helps to alleviate stress is being able to be outside and create your own parameters. There’s something incredibly empowering and calming about putting on running shoes, putting headphones in, and heading out to jog in the neighborhood. You can create your own schedule, map your own route, pick your own pace, and focus on yourself and nothing else. Whether you sweat it out running on a hot day or you stomp through puddles running in the rain, it’s a great stress reliever to get outside and jog at your own pace.
Tai chi is a graceful form of exercise that involves a series of very deliberate movements. This exercise is low impact and, similar to yoga, requires you to focus and breathe deeply. It allows you to pace yourself and flow through the movements in a way that feels comfortable to you. It’s an exercise that feels like meditation in motion and works to free the body and the mind of any stresses. Tai chi incorporates many different styles depending on the instructor, but each type is a great stress reliever due to the slow and calm manner of the movements. It’s great for all types of people at different fitness levels, all health levels, and all stress levels.
Hiking is all about accomplishment. Hiking your way to the top of a mountain and looking out over the landscape below you is such an amazing feeling. It can be a difficult workout, but you are able to go at your own pace and stop if you need. This is a great stress reliever because of the amazing feeling of accomplishment once you’ve reached the top. You aren’t seeing the number of miles you’ve walked or the incline you’ve chosen on the treadmill, you’re seeing your accomplishment in the form of amazing scenery. Being in the outdoors, seeing new things, and being in nature is a stress reliever in itself that is elevated with exercise.
Meditating, doing calming exercises, getting outside, and accomplishing a goal are all great ways to reduce stress, but for some it’s nice to have a more aggressive stress reliever. Releasing tension caused by stress by incorporating a more high impact exercise is exactly what some people need. Kickboxing is a great high impact exercise to relieve some of that tension. You’ll feel more powerful, confident, and your endorphins will skyrocket. For some, they need a more calming exercise in order to relieve their stressful lives. However, for others this fast-paced workout is exactly what they need to relieve the anger and helplessness associated with stress.
Stress is a part of life for everyone. Whether it’s caused by work, people, or finances, it’s incredibly common to feel bogged down by the stresses of everyday life. There are a ton of great ways to alleviate that stress including reading, creating art, or cooking, but working out is a sure way to aid in that area due to the increase in endorphins. To take your stress release further, find the activity that goes beyond endorphins. Whether it’s meditating with some yoga, going on a jog in the rain, trying some tai chi movements, hiking a local trail, or taking a kickboxing class, you might find the perfect workout to reduce the stress in your life.
Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She loves her animals, listens to talk radio, and prefers her coffee cold.