How often have you come home from work, completely fed up with your boss who refuses to give you a pay rise or that annoying colleague of your’s has once again painfully talented their way by burrowing themselves under your skin? The first thing you want to do is kick off your shoes in the hallway, dive into the fridge and reach for that bottle of wine and glug it. Sounds familiar huh?
Well STOP! While a large glass of vino (or Stella in my case) may seem like the perfect answer, you will do your waistline and your mood a world of good by hitting the gym instead.
Over the years I’ve learned that exercise really is a great stress reliever. On a personal level, there was a time in my life where I became quite depressed and I was extremely demotivated. At a complete loss at what to do I dragged my miserable self to the doctor. She took one look at me and said that although I was showing signs of mild depression and stress, she would not be prescribing me antidepressants. Instead she suggested that I increase the amount of exercise I was doing. It was the best advice she could’ve given me. This was the first time that I started to take exercise really seriously and made it my priority to do some kind of physical activity at least three times a week. I soon learned and came to experience that exercise helped decrease my stress hormones and increased endorphins – the body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals – which gave my mood a natural boost.
No one is saying to start pounding the streets for hours or take up residency at the gym. But something as simple as taking a stroll for half an hour will do the trick. I was reminded of the link between stress and exercise yesterday just before I went into my martial arts class. I hadn’t been feeling my chirpiest that day but as soon as I got into my class, I felt great. So much so that my instructor Ricardo looked on baffled as I couldn’t stop my ear to ear grin through the entire class! Needless to say by the end of it, not only was my mood lifted but I had belted out the calories like there was no tomorrow. So the next time you’re feeling low, take a little time out and do something physical – however little it may seem. Believe me you’ll feel on top of the world. And if you still want that glass of wine or pint, you’ll have definitely earned it. So in my eyes it’s a win win situation.