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Seeing as we are moving our entire existence between states and staying with my in-laws while in-between Virginia and our final destination, I know a bit about stress. Exercise is a great method to reduce stress though, so I have been eager to continue pushing on everyday even through the cooler weather to assure my health is taken as a priority. Some signs of stress are: increased heart rate, skin/hair issues, stomach issues and fatigue. If you feel stressed and some of these signs are occurring, you should probably step away from the stress if possible and get a bit of exercise to get your ‘runners high’ (endorphins).

Stress/Anxiety Causes: (Just to name a few)
Heart issues such as heart-attacks
Increased blood pressure
Increased body fat
Increase blood sugar
Skin/hair issues (such as acne)
Stomach irritability
Fatigue

*If stress/anxiety is not reduced it can cause some major health issues such as a heart-attack, weight gain, weight loss, acne and permanent damage to the immune system.

Exercise is medicine- so get moving. There are a few things to keep in mind when working out with stress. A stressed body is under a lot of pressure so try to follow these simple rules:

1. Anxiety & Stress levels: Anxiety and stress are two different emotional factors that really complicate our bodies physically. As there are different levels of these two emotional states, one should distinguish when professional help is necessary. If you are feeling in the state of an overwhelming condition in which you can not fully function or feel physical pain (especially in the chest/heart region) – it might be best to talk to a doctor before going through with any exercise.

2. Take it Easy: Heightened cortisol levels in the bodies’ can really put pressure on the heart and so it is important to take it easy. There are always those people with frowns on their faces at the gym really going at it on the treadmill and I always think – take it easy you’re going to hurt yourself. It’s not safe to put extra pressure on your body, especially when it’s already on alert. As a good example, if you run 5 miles on a normal basis at 10min/mi pace, try running 3 miles at a pace of 11min/mi. The idea of exercising to boost the endorphins is to do a gentle workout instead of putting more stress on it.

3. Eat Clean Foods: Eating clean is very important when under mental pressure. So there is no confusion, ‘clean foods’ are all natural foods that come from the earth. For instance, eat more fruits and vegetables. Try to reduce the amount of sugar and fats in your diet since these two can be increased so it is best to not inflame the issue any more. It’s also important to stick to a schedule of when you eat since your body needs to know when the energy will be coming.

4. Caffeine Moderation (Not elimination!!): Caffeine in large consumptions can increase your heart rate and with alleviation thanks to stress/anxiety it’s best not to make more of an issue. Please do not confuse this with a normal amount of caffeine- if you drink coffee for instance daily, then you can continue to drink it, just do not drink more than normal. Caffeine is not bad for the body, numerous health research studies have found normal coffee consumption is 100% okay if it is less than 3 cups a day. 100% elimination can have the opposite health affects on normal consumers of caffeine. So if you are in a situation where you want to reach towards an extra caffeine drink to make it through the day, try drinking something slightly different. My favorites are rooibos tea (no caffeine), water, coconut water and green vegetable smoothies.

5. Switch it up: Sometimes a slight change to your normal workout is just what your body needs to reduce stress. Yes, it sounds weird but it really works. In my case, I prefer to go on runs when I’m stressed with music but normally I prefer no music since it releases my mind. Or I will go with friends out for a new activity that will bring a smile to my face and get my mind off from what is going on in my life.

6. Sleep: Everyone needs sleep and enough of it. It’s not a time to be skipping out on your daily 8-10 hours of sleep since your body is working double duty it needs rest. It can be hard at times to relax your mind but there are many techniques online to assist with it. If you can, sleeping pills are usually not the best option since they can make the person more tired in the morning making it hard to get motivated.

7. Keep to a schedule: Sometimes when you do not need to think about a schedule but rather just look down at the one already written your mind can relax and de-stress. Rather than trying to make myself workout a few times a week, I make sure to write out a schedule and make myself stick to it. It makes things mindless throughout the week but sometimes that’s a good thing. Less to think about means less stress.  Just remember to not go overboard, your body is under a lot of pressure and too much exercise can be harmful.

Your body is one of the most important things in your life so do not abuse it. What you do in your life (even if you do not see results) can affect your body in the future. Stress is harmful to your body so practicing meditation, yoga or just getting a nice long walk will help you calm down a bit. Follow the above 7 steps and you will be able to benefit from exercise increasing your endorphins and reducing your stress/anxiety. Take care of yourselves; you are worth the extra steps to a calm and relaxing life – it’s part of a healthier lifestyle.

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