Stress -- it's that feeling we know all too well when things get busy at work, you're balancing what feels like a million different tasks at home and you still have to find that time to squeeze in a workout. It can be overwhelming, there's no denying that. The reality is, stress is just a part of life. However, the way we learn to manage stress makes all the difference in how it impacts our health.
First, let's debunk the difference between the good stress and the bad stress.
Good stress is the familiar pang we feel on a daily basis. It's what drives us to meet a tight deadline, or muster up the energy to get the kids up, fed and out the door in the morning. In other words, it drives us to accomplish our task at hand. If you've heard the saying 'flight or fight' - that's what's happening here, your body is accepting to fight the stress and does so successfully.
Bad stress, the stress we obviously don't want in our lives is chronic. Bad stress hinders our everyday life and can take over every aspect. People who suffer from bad stress often have anxiety, depression and other types of illness. It's bad for your health and takes a toll not only mentally but physically as well.
To find out how you are managing the stress in your life, observe the following:
• Your quality of sleep - it's not quantity of sleep its quality of sleep that matters most. Are you getting the recommended amount of sleep and more importantly, is it deep and uninterrupted? Do you feel rested when you awake?
• Your waistline and body weight consistency - Are you fit, healthy and strong? Your waistline will tell you how you're doing so monitor this closely, any weight gain or fluctuation of waist circumference in particular could be linked to stress.
• Your patience, irritability and agitation levels - the level of patience you have is a good indicator if you are feeling at ease or stressed out.
• Your cravings - are you constantly craving sugar? This is a vice we turn to when we are stressed.
Because we all experience stress at one point or another. Here's a simple prescription to keep your body and your mind healthy:
Participating in moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise regularly burns off the negative effects of stress through increased blood flow and sweat. That's right - you release all those negative toxins through the sweat you produce when working out - so get sweaty! Being consistent with your aerobic exercise is key to counteracting the negative effects that stress hormones such as cortisol plays on the body.
Any form of resistance training, such as lifting weights or hitting a punching bag, is a great outlet to release agitation and anxiety. It will also elevate the hormones that make you happy and confident - that's why when you finish a workout everything, including your mood, feels better.
Find a Mind-Body Connection:
Exercise is vital but so is developing a healthy mind-body connection. A mind-body connection is when your thoughts and feelings, whether they are positive or negative, affect your physical function. For instance, if you are in a good mood, have a positive attitude and a great outlook on life your physical health will most likely reflect that - you feel good and experience higher levels of confidence and self-control. If you're feeling depressed or suffering from anxiety you physically feel weaker, tired and overall unwell and unhappy.
It's important to be conscious of your mind-body connection and act with purpose to achieve the healthy connection we are all seeking. If you wake up each day and start your morning off on a positive note, whether that means saying a positive affirmation, doing some meditation, having a coffee and doing a reading or whatever else works for you, you are more likely to feel your best throughout the day.
When you're fit you think clearer, you're more alert and you're able to make decisions faster. Your energy level is higher, your patience is intact and you have the ability to cope well with whatever life throws your way. If you manage your stress, your health will follow.
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