If you forage through the internet, there is a huge likelihood that you will chance upon ideas and exercises for relaxation a dime a dozen. But, the reality is that you don’t need to look so hard because:
- EVERY exercise, no matter which form, high or low intensity helps the human body in producing endorphins, thereby, reducing stress and anxiety
- Some of these exercises are what you have forgotten and left behind long ago as children OR don’t see it as an effective exercise or tool for stress-busting
Some of the movement-based activities which will be enumerated below may not seem like exercise to you because they are not really packaged as one and are the easiest to ignore. But, once used effectively, it will add up to great mental health and, thus, holistically help the practitioner.
On World Health Day (7th April) and Stress Awareness Month (April), The Channel 46 has collaborated with Pallavi Barman, Business Head and Fitness Ambassador, HRX, who has offered advice regarding various forms of exercise to ease stress and anxiety.
1. Let’s Start With Something Very Basic
Ditch your elevators and start climbing the stairs. Climbing up the stairs is the most underrated yet effective cardio workout. If this is done for 10 min, it probably clocks in the same or more calories than walking burns. Once you are done climbing, the feeling of triumph is what causes the release of endorphins and, it, in turn, eases stress.
Have you ever realised why dancing at a party in the most uninhibited way makes the evening most memorable and joyous? Dance is the art form/exercise form that helps in the release of DOSE – Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins and these are all the neurotransmitters one needs for happiness and well-being. So, if you haven’t turned on the music yet or worn your dancing shoes, do so now and don’t forget to strap on your fitness tracker to see how many calories you burn while generating happiness for yourself.
Any intensity is fine really. Visualise yourself out on the roads, breathing in the fresh morning air, feeling the lukewarm sun, the slight breeze and the smell of flowers, earth and the spread of greens. If you can manage to do this near your house, please don’t hesitate to give that body a good walk and remember to focus on breathing. Keeping counts of your breath will make it meditative along with the physical work the body will do. You will return home a very happy person. Caveat – Please don’t use this time for watching anything on your phone or talking to people. Spend time with yourself and nature to get the best results.
It is a great and one of the most therapeutic sports. Water in itself has healing powers. So, along with stress and anxiety, a few laps in the pool are also effective in muscle relaxation. Add this to your mix once a week and you will end the week on a higher note.
Yoga is a great combination of body movements focused on breathing. For great yoga practice, one needs to align the heart and mind first and once the focus is built, breathing takes you through movements. This makes holding positions easier. Yoga is a form that always heals inside out. In cases where one needs to combat anxiety, yoga can prove to be most soothing and calming than any other regime. The coordination of mind, body and heart that one achieves through yoga has a recuperative quality and even the toughest of accident survivors have healed completely through yoga – both mentally and physically.
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This is another activity that allows one to enjoy the outdoors while keeping a keen sense of alertness for road safety. This is the singular most and greatest benefit of sports (any) – where the mind and body work together to attain a unidirectional focus for a successful practice. Cycling happens to be a great example.
7. Martial Arts
This is what brings together unwavering focus and strenuous physical work. The combination can elevate one to almost monk-like mental health, along with top physical shape and strength, and a well-functioning agile body.
Read 25 Ways To De-Stress To Calm Your Mind, Body & Soul
Why most people enjoy HIIT is high (read as dopamine rush) this brings with its practice. And the reason why it is a favourite among many is that a lot gets achieved in a short window, thus, making it a go-to regime for those who are pressed for time. It is an instant stressbuster!
9. Weights Training
Much like HIIT, it also adds a lot of muscle mass to the body but, when played right, weight training can take you into a dedicated and meditative zone, which is great for mental well-being and overall wellness.
This is a no brainer. When one understands conquering their breathing, she reaches a higher zone of self-awareness where issues like stress management get into a self-regulated mode. A few minutes of breathing or meditation every day can be regenerative for the mind. Regular practice can make one well balanced physically and mentally.
Now, let’s focus on muscular stress or muscular tension too. When the mind undergoes trauma, it is natural for the muscles to hold on to the stress. Have you ever experienced how neck pain, constipation, leg cramps, etc. get activated when you are going through a stressful situation? Yes, it is the interconnectivity of your mental and physical. Thus, the needs of your mind have to be cured sometimes by taking care of the physical. Mobility exercise just helps in releasing taut muscles and getting rid of knots and fatigues, thereby, allowing the muscles to work to their full range and capacity. This, in turn, opens up the blood vessels and restores good blood flow, thereby, carrying more oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, including the brain.
Stretching opens up your mind and body. While delivering more oxygen and nutrients, it also allows the toxins to leave by enabling the removal of wastes like carbon dioxide, uric acid, and ammonia. Thus, stretching reduces the body’s toxicity. And the lesser the toxicity, the better the mood and healthier the mind!
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