Five Ways Exercise Helps You Cope with Difficult Life Changes

Go-joggingWhen you are going through stress, dysfunction, and difficult life changes, often the last thing you want to do is exercise. You’re probably already tired and your body is telling you that it wants comforting foods (foods usually full of fat and sugar), not that it wants to go for a jog. In this moments, sometimes the most beneficial thing you can do is ignore your food cravings and do something that you intellectually know will be better for your stress level and health, even if your body initially resists. Exercise has proven to be an excellent stress reduction tool, especially in the most trying times of your life. Here are five of the biggest benefits of exercising during a time of challenge.

  1. Exercise acts as a distraction. Even taking a simple walk around your neighborhood allows you a moment to do something besides just think about how stressed out you are. If you are just sitting at home, trying to wrestle with this challenge all the time, you are going to work your body up into a panic. Getting out of the house and doing something else—something that has absolutely nothing to do with your challenge, is often the best plan of action. Give yourself a moment to breathe. Leave the situation behind and just appreciate the fresh air. It is, of course, easier said than done, but if you put some music on your mp3 player and get moving, you might find yourself not focusing on the difficult situation for once.
  1. Exercise can be family time. If you have a stroller that is made for walking, this can be a great time to get the kids, even if they are very young, out of the house, into the sunlight, and doing something fun and healthy. Sometimes, when we are having a difficult time, we put our families on the back burner. While we may still keep up with our normal routines, we may not actually be putting an effort into showing those that love and support us that we appreciate that love and support. Getting everyone outside, doing something active together is a much better option than sitting around and stewing in your juices for days on end.
  2. Exercise is a highly personalized activity. By now, one of your friends or family members has likely said, “You need to do something for you.” As women, we are hardwired to take care of other people first and ourselves last. If you are going through one of life’s most challenging times, from a career change, to a divorce, to a death in the family, you really do need to take a moment and do something just for yourself, that has only selfish benefits. Even if you just walk on the treadmill for half an hour, every morning, you will feel happier and be better prepared to face what the day may bring.
  3. Exercise forces the body to deal with stress. Studies conducted by the American Psychological Association have found that consciously exercising, getting out and doing something active, strengthens the bond between mind and body. That bond, in turn, forces the body to deal with whatever stress is in the system. Many people are put off of exercising during a stressful time because they know that exercise actually puts more stress on the body—but it also kicks the body’s stress response into high gear, so it is better able to deal with not only the stress of the exercise, but any and all stress in the system.
  4. Exercise boosts mood and energy. It boosts the mood in the short term and boosts your energy in the long term—two things that you likely want more of during a stressful or sad time. The more you exercise, the more energetic you will be, as your metabolism revs up to meet the needs of the increased activity. Doing something active and for yourself is psychologically uplifting, but it can actually improve your physical mood indicators, especially if you go for a walk outside and catch some sunlight. Your body will produce Vitamin D, improving your immune system and serotonin, the hormone connected with a positive mood and energy.
About Darlene

Darlene is passionate and enthusiastic about helping women simplify their lives, develop stress resilience, regain balance, and find happiness, despite the personal storms life throws at them. She has published a popular series of stress management books which focus on simple, practical and healthy stress relief strategies, as well as provide FREE resources and services that help women become more stress-resilient.

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