How you cope with stress can affect your fitness and nutrition goals.
While de-stressing is generally beneficial to your physical and mental health, relying too much on anything external to cope with it is ultimately not beneficial. The external things like watching TV instead of exercising or binge eating fast food, can cause a release of neurotransmitters in the brain which lead to feeling good in that moment.
This can encourage the brain to want to repeat the behavior over and over again… looking for the same result. This is like an addiction. The pattern becomes wired in the brain, and eventually, the brain learns to depend on that substance to cope with stress. And it wants more and more of it.
Two Healthy Ways to De-Stress
1. Mindful Breathing
Take note of your breath and purposely track the feeling of inhaling and exhaling. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen with each breath.
After a few breaths, take a slightly deeper breath. Try to really focus on your breathing and if you get distracted, just redirect your attention back to your breath.
Do this exercise for just five minutes. You can gradually add a few minutes each time you practice.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Starting with your feet, tense each muscle group, one at a time. Hold the tension until it is almost uncomfortable, and then release.
Then move up to your legs and tense each muscle group. Continue moving up your body to the top of your head.
Notice how your body feels as you release the tension contained in each muscle group. Take your time doing this.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite de-stress activity is!