Stressed Out? Try Exercise and Meditation!
Most of us have a large amount of stress and anxiety in our normal lives. Summer is nearing its end, our kids are going back to school and starting up with sports and activities. Our jobs may become busier and new deadlines are creeping up on us. I can make a safe bet that even without these issues, we all feel the pressure of our responsibilities, finances, social lives and family commitments on a daily basis. As humans we put these stresses on ourselves because we feel that society expects this of us, and I believe this is especially true in the Northeast part our country particularly around the major cities.
How we deal with these stresses is what makes us all different. Some people take things in stride and do not seem to sweat the daily grind and responsibilities. Others seem to sweat out over every detail of their lives. I bet that most of us would like a good solid lesson on how to not sweat the small stuff. I can tell you with certainty that having an outlet for your stress is crucial for your overall health! I cannot tell you the best way to deal with anxiety and stress for you in particular, but I can give you some good ideas. I believe the number one way to release anxiety and stress is exercise. A work friend of mine sent me the following quote this past week. I couldn’t agree with it more!
“Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most underutilized anti anxiety/antidepressant.”
There have been countless studies that show that exercise improves mood by releasing serotonin and multiple hormones, which are responsible for lowering levels of anxiety and stress. I know from personal experience that if I exercise after a stressful day, I feel better by the end of the workout. Not only does exercise increase multiple stress relieving hormones, it also distracts you from your stressful thoughts and forces you to change your environment. If you decide to go for a walk, run, bike or go to the gym, you will force yourself to take a break from the stresses of your office, computer, bills and phone. Exercising works every time! In fact, I am sitting here in my gym attire and plan to exercise in my basement when I finish this writing this blog.
Two years ago another friend of mine mentioned a book called “8 Minute Meditation” by Victor Davich. Meditation has been used for thousands of years throughout many different cultures. I used to think that meditation took hours, and that it was practiced in the United States only in places like L.A. and SoHo. I was wrong! Meditation can take many forms, encompasses different techniques and is practiced by people from several minutes a day to several hours all over the world. I figure that if it has been used for thousands of years, than there is probably something to it! Like the majority of people with kids and work responsibilities, I feel pressured for time every day. However, I thought that I could dedicate dedicate 8 minutes a day to meditate as an experiment.
So for one summer two years ago, I meditated for 8 minutes a day mostly after work. I sat in an upright chair with my eyes closed in a quiet room in the house and concentrated on my breathing and nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised by my findings. I was able to relax after a long day. I was able to separate my busy workday, put aside my to do list in my mind and essentially wipe the slate clean after work. I was then able to be with my family with an increased level of attention. I recommend the book if you are interested in giving it a try. It clearly describes several very easy meditation techniques to do in only 8 minutes a day. If anything, it may help you break away from your concerns for a few minutes every day and help you push your internal reset button. I think that we rationally know that we should move on from some of our daily concerns and worries, but we cannot actually make the transition. Exercise and meditation are both excellent ways to subconsciously make that happen.
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.
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