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For a stress-free life, try exercise

STRESS! Stress is a reaction to mental and/or emotional pressure. This last year has been rough and extra stressful as none of us saw this coming. A global pandemic is not a regular occurrence. Being cooped up has been a challenging experience, but we've all had to make sacrifices for the greater good. How have you been managing your stress? Maybe a better question is : Have you been managing your stress?

One of the things that I do that helps me with my stress is exercise. I need to carve out at least 30 mins for myself everyday. Sometimes I can only do 30 minutes, I just have too much on to carve out a big chunk of time. Other days I can do 2-3 hours (this is usually dancing and stretching because those two things are just so easy for me to lose track of time). I find comfort in exercise, it gives me a sense of control and when I finish a workout I feel like I've achieved something. It also gives me something to focus on, there are always things to improve on when it comes to your health.

I fully understand that for other people the idea of exercising is a burden. To them I would say : find a type of exercise you like. Find that thing that makes you turn your brain off for a bit. Maybe its dancing or rock climbing, kick boxing or running, but whatever it is find it. Exercise is good for your body, but it can also be really good for your mind. If you can find a fitness hobby then you'll have a much better "why" and that can be great motivation.

Exercise should be about experimenting with what your body can do, and if we break physical barriers we can break mental barriers as well. If you've slipped out of your routine, don't stress about it, you aren't the only one! Now is the time to try that group class that you've been dying to go to. Go try that local sports club. Get a group of friends together and hold yourselves accountable. Book in with that personal trainer *wink wink* and get started on your fitness journey. There's never a perfect time to start, so don't wait for that perfect moment, just start somewhere.

If you're looking for some ideas other than exercise to relieve stress, here have been my most helpful things :

1) Morning movement. I just do 10 -15 minutes of mobility in the morning. I wake up, and see how I'm feeling, it's my time to check in with myself after I've had my cup of tea. I'm going to be doing a "Move More" challenge in March so stay tuned for that if you need ideas.

2) Meditate. This doesn't have to be anything fancy. I just find a moment for myself and focus on my breath and clear my mind. There are a million apps out there that can get you started if you've never done it. Calm and Headspace are probably the most popular. Don't knock it, until you try it!

3) Read. This is more time unplugged as I have a lot of physical books. You could swap this for an audiobook or podcast if you want, but shave off some of that social media time and swipe through some pages instead.

4) Less phone time. I don't wake up and grab my phone, and I don't look at it last thing before bed. I give myself an hour after I wake up before I check it, and I'm off my phone for at least an hour before I go to sleep. It was stressing me out when I felt like I needed to check it all the time.

5) Try something new! Be uncomfortable, push your boundaries. You're enough, right now, exactly as you are, but why not see what you could become! As Jean Giraudoux would say "Only the mediocre are always at their best." You have everything you need to get started. So what are you waiting for?


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