Relaxation and Fitness for Stress Management

Relaxation and Fitness for Stress Management

April is stress awareness month, however it’s not just in April that we experience stress, right? And for many of us, a reminder about being aware of the health challenges that chronic stress could affect may not seem necessary. We hear about the effects of stress all the time. And sometimes hearing about it makes it worse! Nevertheless, because stress is part of our everyday life, it is a good idea that there is a dedicated month in the year where we can be more focused on how better to manage our stress in an effort to avoid or at least mitigate the negative effects that stress can have on our body. It’s best to look at stress in a more logical way – not focusing on how bad it is for us, but focus more on how we can successfully manage stress – because it’s not going away.

You see, chronic long term stress is stress that doesn’t ever have a break that would allow your body to activate your relaxation response. And chronic stress can come from many sources including environmental, relationship, work, or emotions. You may not be able to remove the “stressor” so it’s important to be able to allow your body to activate your relaxation response on a regular basis. National Institutes of Health can offer some ideas about relaxation and how it can benefit your overall health.

The Mayo Clinic reports there is a connection between exercise and stress relief and notes some benefits you might see with just a little exercise.

(Remember to always consult with your Health Care Provider before starting any new exercise program)

  1. Increases your sense of well-being
  2. May increase your levels of endorphins (your feel good neurotransmitters)
  3. May improve your mood
  4. May improve your sleep

Harvard Health Publishing notes that not only does aerobic exercise increase endorphin levels but it also reduces the levels of your stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. They also note that exercise not only supports stress management but can also lead to reducing the risk of many health risk conditions as well as slowing the aging process.

So, let’s first address relaxation (because for some of us that sounds more interesting than exercise). The National Institutes of Health (link noted above) has some great ideas and suggestions. Let’s just look at a couple right now. You can review their recommendations and utilize what works best for you. I like the following:

Breathing exercises – slow deep breaths through your diaphragm – not your shoulders. Often when first attempting to do breathing exercises we take deep breaths by lifting our shoulders instead of breathing through the diaphragm. Practice deep breathing without raising your shoulders.

Massage therapy – most people enjoy a relaxing massage. It can offer many benefits including giving your body a “relaxation break” from stress.

Meditation – there are options including guided meditation and other mindfulness practices. You can focus on breathing, or a sound, or saying a mantra. There is no “wrong” selection – it’s what works best for you. And meditation does take practice. Start with just a few minutes a day, and then you may find that you are taking meditation breaks throughout the day to help you deal with stressful situations. Some people enjoy longer periods of time set aside for meditation. Remember, relaxation is about what works for you – not someone else.

Finally, let’s address exercise. We can’t get away from the importance of exercise for our overall health. Our bodies are designed to move so exercise is important for multiple aspects of health. The Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Publishing websites noted above can give you great insight into the benefits of exercise. You don’t have to be a marathon runner of competitive body builder – you just need to move.

Remember to always check with your health care provider before starting or changing your current exercise routine.

And remember to supply your body with quality nutrition to support post workout recovery. A key macronutrient your body needs is protein. Protein is a key building block for your body. Selecting the best protein to meet your needs is easy with Biochem. Offering both vegetarian and vegan options the Biochem line of protein supplements are designed to provide clean, easy to digest, great tasting protein options that can take you to your #NextLevelLiving goals.

If you are inclined to do more weight bearing exercises, and work your muscles, including a Branch Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement can aid in your muscle recovery. The Biochem BCAA product is an excellent, easy to mix, great tasting option to provide your muscles with the needed BCAA’s.

Relaxation and exercise are important for our stress management efforts so choose what works best for you and include the right supplementation to take your health to #NextLevelLiving!

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