The timing wasn't ideal. I was eight months pregnant, already mom to a busy 4-year-old son, and full-time fitness director in a town we loved. But my husband's promotion was one we couldn't pass up. So, I quit my job, raced to sell our current home, find a new home (and an obstetrician!) in a city several hours away, and camped out for a couple of weeks in an extended stay hotel while the home we purchased was made available for us to move in. Meanwhile, my husband was immersed in his new role and returning to our former town every weekend to complete his Master's program. His new job also required that he relinquish his company car, so we had to go about purchasing another vehicle. On top of that, we were blindsided by heartbreaking family drama at the worst possible time. To say that we were stressed is an understatement.
The only major milestone we didn't face in that short span of time was a death, thankfully. But we pretty much covered every other significant stressor that life presents.
How did we cope and relieve stress? Firstly, by turning to our faith. Secondly, through exercise and physical activity.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, so I thought it fitting to delve into this topic a bit as it relates to health and fitness. Now, we all know that too much stress is bad for us. It damages the heart, exacerbates skin conditions, increases the odds of obesity, depression and anxiety, and can worsen ulcers. And low levels of stress, when chronic, can cause negative hormone and inflammatory responses, and even contribute to cancer.
"But wait! I'm always stressed," you say! It's true that we all experience varying levels of stress daily, some of which is actually healthy. Our bodies were divinely designed to adapt to all sorts of conditions, and thrive despite challenges. But that only happens optimally when we have coping strategies to relieve the negative stress.
During that rollercoaster period when we were selling and buying homes, buying a car, adjusting to a new town, new job, new reality, and, oh yeah, being very pregnant, I continued my exercise regimen. I also took my son and dog for a daily walk. Having those opportunities to move my body, clear my mind and energize my spirit were absolutely essential to maintaining my sanity and de-stressing through a crazy period in my life.
Specifically, the Mayo Clinic explains that engaging in exercise helps relieve stress in the following ways:
What negative stresses in your life do you need to address? As you might expect, every resource I reviewed on "how to de-stress" recommended exercise, among other things.
While the best first step to reduce stress is often taking a few deep breaths, here are movement-based suggestions to energize you and help you shed negative energy:
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.