COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Winter is coming (a Pittsburgh-grey one at that!)
And, you are stressed…
In fact, Stress in AmericaTM2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association, found that nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives, while 3 in 5 (60%) say the number of issues America faces is overwhelming to them.1 This stress may appear in the form of insomnia, anxiety, depression, weight changes, physical aches and pains, fatigue, and mood disruptions to name a few.
And, while the majority of America being chronically stressed may not be particularly surprising, it is certainly cause for concern. Chronic stress is not desirable, yet the problem isn’t always stress itself. We may never figure out how to live without stress completely. But we can figure out ways to improve how we manage that stress! We at SHAPE Training are committed to help you do just that.
Have you ever ended an argument with your significant other, a friend, or family member saying, “I just need to take a walk and clear my mind”?
What about, “I just need to lift something heavy”?
Or going for a run and the associated “runner’s high”?
Whether you were aware of it or not, there is scientific backing to these responses. Firstly, they are far better ways to handle stress than actually saying the perfect zinger you had ready. Or popping open that bottle of wine to drown your sorrows. Each of the responses to stressful situations involves individuals taking ownership of their stress in a healthy, action-oriented practice. More specifically, these responses utilize the physiological changes that result from exercise.
How Does This Happen?
Stress leads to a cascade of “stress responses.” These are perfectly normal responses most frequently known as the “fight or flight” response. In the short-term, this response may keep you out of harm’s way. However, if you experience this response too often, chronic conditions rear their ugly heads. One of the outcomes of the fight-or-flight response is increased levels of inflammation. Left unchecked, chronic inflammation bullies our bodies and often leads to negative outcomes such as depressed mood and elevated anxiety.
Unless we fight back.
Exercise is one of the most effective methods of reducing chronic inflammation and improving mental health2. Not only does exercise alleviate some of the physical tension we feel when stressed, but there are several benefits related to our brain circuitry and chemistry. There are myriad neurochemical increases to acute bouts of exercise. In short, a highly complex set of signaling pathways releases a combination of hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors, and neuromodulators in response to exercise.3 Over the long term, these releases of “feel-good” chemicals helps us to sustain improved moods and less feelings of depression.
To put it simply, movement improves mood.
Where Should I Start?
Sometimes taking that first step, literally in this case, can be the hardest part. Don’t think too hard about what you should do first.
We at SHAPE Training are here to help. Check out the video below for some simple moves to start feeling better today:
- Stress in America 2020 Survey Signals a Growing National Mental Health Crisis. (2020). APA.Org. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/10/stress-mental-health-crisis
- Herbert, C., Meixner, F., Wiebking, C., & Gilg, V. (2020). Regular physical activity, short-term exercise, mental health, and well-being among university students: The results of an online and a laboratory study. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00509
- Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The effects of acute exercise on mood, cognition, neurophysiology, and neurochemical pathways: A review. Brain Plasticity, 2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040