Stress is one of those things that Americans must manage on a regular basis. In fact, according to a study from the American Psychological Association, the average reported level of stress among American adults is of 5/10 and has held steady since 2020.
While stress-relief rolls off the tongue so easily, finding ways to make it happen may not seem so obvious. Did you know that exercising regularly is an effective stress management technique? According to a study from The Lancet Psychiatry, individuals who exercise have 43% fewer days of poor mental health than individuals who do not exercise. Your weekly workout routine is truly one of the best ways to unwind your body and mind. For that reason, taking steps to nurture your fitness can help you manage stress and nourish your body.
But where should you start and how does exercise reduce stress? Let’s dive into 6 simple stress management techniques you can use to improve your mental health.
Pick an Activity That You Love
Exercise and mental health are closely related but finding activities that you enjoy doing is one of the most important steps in creating a stress-free workout routine.
If you don’t like the workout, you’re less likely to make it happen and more likely to give up early on. Exercise does not have to be the typical cardio machines, exercise classes, or weight machines – think outside of the box. Any movement that keeps your body going can be considered exercise. Think about hobbies or activities that make you happy – bike riding, jogging, rock climbing, dancing, swimming, etc.– and incorporate those into your weekly routine.
The key is consistency – find something you can do 3-4 times per week, then make it happen. Once the workout endorphins start working, you will see a clear improvement in your stress levels.
Take Rest Days
Listening to your body is essential to a successful exercise regimen that promotes a more rested body and mind. In fact, exercising too often or at too high of an intensity without rest is a recipe for overtraining. Overtraining can make you feel sluggish, makes you more susceptible to injury, and causes lack of interest in exercise, detrimental to your stress management efforts.
Make it a point to take a rest day after 2-3 consecutive exercise days to allow adequate time to recover, rest, and refuel.[i]
To get the most out of your workouts, you’ll need to eat plenty of nutritious foods from all three food groups. Opt for 3 meals and 1-2 snacks per day; fill ¼ of your plate with protein (poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, fish, seafood, tofu), ¼ with high fiber whole grains (think rice, potatoes, pasta, beans, and the like), and the remaining portion with fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget fats – these include olive oil and other healthy oils, nuts and seeds, avocado, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Building a balanced plate ensures you’re not leaving out essential protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, that are important for restoring energy reserves and improving muscle recovery. Don’t forget vitamins for stress!
Stress support supplements are ideal to fill in gaps where your diet may be lacking, especially when you’re met with daily stressors. By taking the right supplements for stress, you can help your body provide a healthy response to daily stress. NutraMedix’s Fitness Support Kit provides everything you need to support your workouts by promoting muscle recovery, maintaining your body’s inflammatory response, and streamlining energy.
This Fitness Support Kit contains Magnesium Malate, an easily absorbed form of magnesium, which has many functions in the body and may help with daily stress management. As an important part of the fitness kit, it may help to support energy production from dietary carbohydrates and fats. ᶧ1,9 It may also help to relax the skeletal muscles and support overall cardiovascular health. ᶧ7,12
Nutramedix’s Fitness Support Kit also contains Serrapeptase, an enzyme that may help maintain a healthy inflammatory response. ᶧ
Together, Magnesium Malate and Serrapeptase may support healthy energy levels, support muscle recovery after exertion, and maintain a healthy inflammatory response to help you ramp up and wind down as needed, as you pursue your exercise and mental health goals. ᶧ
Get Adequate Sleep
A tired body and mind are more stressed and may not have enough energy to fulfill a workout. On those days, you may be better off to take a rest day and hit the hay earlier so you can get more sleep.
The CDC recommends adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night for overall health, well-being, stress management, and energy.[ii] If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep each night, take a look at your schedule and take note where you can grab a cat nap here and there or go to bed early – it's true you can dock sleep, which means sleeping more beforehand if you know you’re not going to be sleeping much later in the week.
There are many ways to improve sleep quality, including creating a relaxing sleeping routine.
Get in the Zone
When it does come time to exercise, find a spot that works well for you that’s free of distractions and has plenty of room and equipment that you’ll need for a workout. Listening to upbeat music that you enjoy can help you focus on carrying out your workout plan. If you have kids or animals, ask for help managing them while you’re exercising, that way you can use your time efficiently.Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, and taking steps to maximize your workouts is a great way to give you the advantage. Remember, stress is sometimes out of your control, but how you respond to it isn’t and using tools to help you like NutraMedix’s Fitness Support Kit can make it that much easier.
[i] Yang YJ. An Overview of Current Physical Activity Recommendations in Primary Care. Korea. n J Fam Med. 2019 May;40(3):135-142. doi:10.4082/kjfm.19.0038