Balancing Life & Stress
Stress by definition is any type of event that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. It is usually negatively associated with our home and work environments for a number of reasons. Some examples include random changes in work schedule, dealing with a lazy partner at home, attending a meeting that could’ve been an email, and so on and so forth.
“…Too much time [spent] planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress…” says researchers from the Mayo Clinic when describing influencers of negative stress.
As the stressors and strains of life begin to pile up over a prolonged period of time, the side effects of stress become detrimental to the health and longevity of the individual in question. These events may lead to an increase in weight gain, increases in body inflammation markers, decreases in sleep quality, and can even cause an adverse event in certain types of chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome.(1)
Managing our stress is the key to living a balanced, healthy, and pain-free lifestyle, but how do we begin to combat the side effects of stress? How do we ratio the good stress in favor of the bad stress?
While many stressors carry a negative connotation, there are good types of stress that we should go out of our way to experience.
Good stressors like the joy of seeing a loved one after a long absence or the feeling of excitement before attending a special event are examples of good emotional and psychological strains. These good stressors are helpful in balancing out our life’s compiled stress while also helping you to form favorable memories; in the words of the late Robin Williams during his 1997 role in the film Good Will Hunting, “…that’s the good stuff.”
Good physical strain can then be described as any bout of physical activity that includes a challenging movement in terms of muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, balance & coordination, or cardiovascular health.
Recent research suggests that pairing physical activity with mindfulness meditation is the best prescription to help reduce symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. (2) In one study performed on pharmacy graduate students enrolled at the University of Rhode Island, adherence to a once weekly yoga session coupled with guided meditation was enough to significantly reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety in all observed students.(3)
While most of us may have a general understanding that physical activity is good for us, did you know that just one bout of physical activity is all that it takes to relieve many of the symptoms related to stress?
In addition to helping us to lead happier, healthier lives, physical activity combined with meditation has been shown to trigger the release of feel-good endorphins, increase overall sleep quality, and boost the self-esteem of participants in addition to reducing stress as mentioned above. And while there may not be a foolproof method to eliminate all stress from your life, there are plenty of ways to train the body to respond appropriately to stress that can improve your overall quality of life.
When first beginning any resistance training program, adding yoga classes to your routine, or just starting to get physically active it is important to start small and listen to your body. Begin with a frequency of once per week and monitor how your body feels in the days after activity. It should be your goal to progressively build up to a routine that includes 3-4 days of physical activity every week, choosing an exercise activity that you enjoy performing. Making small, manageable changes to your lifestyle is the key to maintaining your balance of stress and the life you live.
If you are having trouble managing your stress or if you have been thinking about becoming physically active to combat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and negative stress – Equalize Fitness is now offering Yoga with guided meditation to all members. In addition, we can help you get started on a Fitness by Objective (FBO) exercise program that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound!
At EQ we take pride in providing an environment which meets and/or exceeds the New York State and CDC guidelines for fitness centers like ours. We invite you to take a personal tour of our wellness center and start your journey to a less stressful life here at Equalize Fitness!
(1) Rozanski A, Blumenthal JA, Kaplan J. Impact of Psychological Factors on the Pathogenesis of Cardiovascular Disease and Implications for Therapy. Circulation. 1999
(2) Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Sinha R. The Effects of Stress on Physical Activity and Exercise. Sports Med. 2014
(3) Lemay V, Hoolahan J, Et al., Impact of a Yoga and Meditation Intervention on Students' Stress and Anxiety Levels. Am J Pharm Educ. 2019