Monday, October 29, 2012

Sweating the Small Stuff

Wow...this has been one of the most stressful falls that I can remember.  Usually I love this time of year.  I take time to enjoy the change of the seasons, to talk walks among the fallen leaves, to smell smoky, crisp October air.  But this year?  I've done none of that.  I work for a teachers' union, and this year is especially insane thanks to the upcoming election.  By the time I get home, I am so tired that all I want to do is grab something to eat, then go to sleep.  Not good.  The sad part is that I can't even flip on the TV and mindlessly watch crappy shows like the Real Housewives, thanks to all the damned political ads that just raise my blood pressure.  It's all just too much. 

So....what are your favorite ways for beating stress?

I've been trying to be mindful.  I take time most days, even if it's just a half hour or so, to get some exercise in.  I don't go to a gym (I think it's a waste of money, plus I don't like being around other people when I'm working out), but instead I have a great library of DVDs to help me out.  Some days all I have the time/energy for is a two mile walk with Leslie Sansone.  Some times I want to have fun with Zumba.  Other days I need my ass kicked good and proper, so it's Jillian all the way. 

Even when I'm exhausted and feeling overwhelmed, getting a sweat seems to help.  Apart from feeling better and (hopefully) improving myself physically, my daily exercise session also has these somewhat surprising benefits:

  • Regular exercise can reverse the affects of stress.  Thanks to the release of brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, exercise helps moderate stress.  
  • Exercising can boost your mood. I completely agree with this statement.  Taking the time to focus on exercising instead of worrying or getting trapped in my head makes me feel better.  This time of year, it's dark, it's getting cold.  That plus stress could lead to negativity and depression--thankfully exercise is a cure!
  • Exercise keeps your brain fit and can actually make you a better learner.  This is great!  We never stop learning, so having optimal brain function is a goal. Plus exercising can help keep Alzheimer's at bay, so that's good.
What's your favorite way to get some exercise in?  Do you think it's an important part of your routine?

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