March 25, 2017

Too stressed to exercise? By Jana Ross

I’m a morning runner – I wake up before my alarm goes off at 5:30am, crave the sunrises, and savor this quality time I have with my city. In my six years as I runner, I have never set foot to pavement after work. Until one night this week. I tell you this context so you understand what kind of day I must have had to run when it’s already pitch black and not getting any lighter. (Or warmer – it was hovering around 8˚ and only dropped.) One person on a street corner said, “You’re dedicated.” I smiled back and thought, “You have no idea how this run is helping me right now.”

As  to-do lists lengthen, we have no choice but to find some kind of stress reliever. Mine is running, but maybe it’s yoga, a good book or cup of coffee for you. Savor it and don’t let anything keep you from finding the time to pursue whatever it is that calms you down. Sometimes you can’t get to your exercise or stress-reliever the very the minute you need it though, and it helps to have a few tips in your back pocket so you don’t lose your cool. Here are 5 stress-relieving tips:

1. Breathe
Simple but underrated. Use your fingers to press one nostril close and breathe deeply through the other for five seconds. Switch sides and repeat until your pulse slows.

2. Keep Perspective
Play an “it could be worse” game and think about how your stress fits in to the bigger picture. Will someone really remember a few weeks from now if you brought store-bought cookies to the cookie swap? Or pushed a deadline back a few hours to turn in high-quality work?

3. Practice Gratitude
I keep a handy “Things I’m Grateful For” list that I refer to whenever I’m having a really low day. Maybe it’s browsing through your iPhone pictures or calling an old college roommate, sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads.

4. Stretch
There’s something about taking a few minutes to lengthen our cramped muscles that instantly calms us down. It’s restorative and relaxing by nature.

5. Write
Seeing our stresses on paper sometimes helps to understand them as fleeting, manageable, and actionable.

Stress is paralyzing because it overwhelms our rationale, but there is almost always some positive step to take. It’s a choice to be positive. Not an easy choice, but a choice. Now excuse me while I go for a run.

Jana is a healthy living blogger from Boston writing about her love for running, community fitness, and nutrition. She’s run five marathons and is looking ahead to her first triathlon this summer. Check out her blog via www.bananasforbalance.com

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