Physical activity can reduce stress
Submitted by Shirley Porter, M. Ed., RP, RSW
Counsellor, Fanshawe College
In this current environment of uncertainty, many people find themselves dealing with an increase in stress. If this is happening to you, one of the things you can do to help yourself is to identify where in your body you are feeling the stress. To do this you might want to close your eyes and take a moment to scan your body from head to toe. Notice any areas of tension, pressure or soreness, and make note of them in your mind. Then try to gently stretch out these areas. You might also want to try to engage in physical activity that will use those areas of the body where you are holding your stress. For example, if your upper body and arms are holding your tension, then you might want to do push ups, chest presses with weights, or power walking which involves pumping your arms. If you are holding the tension in your lower body, you might want to focus on walking, running, or leg presses. While you are doing exercise using the muscles that are holding your stress, concentrate on releasing the energy of stress within them. This will allow you to transform that negative energy into strength.
Did you know that physical activity can not only reduce stress but has also been found to be as effective as medication for individuals suffering from mild to moderate depressive symptoms? It’s true. Aerobic physical activity (such as walking, cycling, online aerobics class or running) for 30-45 minutes a day, three to five days a week, is recommended. If you are unable to do this, then getting some exercise when possible, will still be helpful. Physical activity can also help to improve sleep quality.
In times of uncertainty, having an outlet for stress that also builds physical strength and resiliency can help you to cope more effectively and also feel a sense of accomplishment.
And don’t forget, if you are struggling to cope right now, help is available. Summer students can call 519-452-4282 to schedule a confidential phone or online appointment with a professional counsellor. We are here for you – and we will get through this together.