can exercise cause stress?
Exercise is touted as a wonderful stress relief tool. And it can be! But when the pressure to exercise is too much or workout intensity is too high, exercise can backfire and actually lead to more/worse stress.
I know i'm not alone
I have been struggling with mindset around exercise this week. When it comes to creating a better relationship with yourself, food and exercise go hand in hand, so I wanted to share some of my challenges and thoughts with you. I know I can't be alone in this.
My schedule is more full than ever and I tend to pressure myself to be perfect and do it all (literally) at the times when it is least realistic. If I am not consciously making an effort to quiet that part of myself then it will just happen. It leaves me feeling guilty when I can't do all the things. Do you ever feel that guilt? This week it was around exercise. I want to be active, but my schedule is packed and some days the only way would be to sacrifice sleep. In the past, when I have gotten in these situations I would end up either doing the exercise and feeling exhausted and angry with myself for giving in, or I would not do it and then feel guilty that I didn't make the time. And if I chose something instead of exercise, forget it. It can feel like a lose- lose.
Getting comfortable in my body was a big step for me. Once I let go of the expectation of how my body should look, or used to look, I was able to start moving intuitively (listening to my body). I tried new workouts, new classes - it has been a fun exploration. But like I mentioned, perfectionist tendencies have crept back without me noticing. I feel the need to prove (to who?) that I can do all the things. I want to work full time, work a side job, grow a business, have a social life, eat well, have a personal life, have relax time, sleep more, and move my body consistently most days of the week. Something's got to give!
I posted a video to my IG account yesterday about needing to remind myself that exercise is no longer a priority and I shouldn’t get anxiety when there isn’t time for a workout. (P.S. for those who say there’s always time...I’m sorry, but you’re just wrong). A friend who is taking graduate classes reached out after watching my video. She is juggling with working full time, taking classes, getting up early for work, and feeling like she should be fitting in a workout, but she would need to cut out sleep. She mentioned she takes a brisk walk with her dog after work each day. I was like *ding*ding*ding* - there is your exercise! This was great reminder for me. Our daily activities can create our movement for the day. The goal is 30 minutes of movement a day to prevent disease. You don’t need to be a sweaty mess to get there. Take the stairs at work, park farther away, and walk to or around a store for errands. And some days, do nothing - it is okay.
Here's the thing...six months ago I committed to removing exercise from the top of my priority list. I have meaningful goals for my life that have nothing to do with how my body looks. I also have committed to decreasing stress in my life. I have been working on this through yoga, journaling, getting more sleep, and making intentional time for relaxing with my SO or friends. When I am freaking about exercise, I am ADDING stress to life and the stress relieving properties of exercise go out the window. This week was the reminder I needed. My mind and body intuitively know the right choices for me, I just need to listen, respect them, and stop questioning them. Time to Recenter. Remember where I am headed. Respect my body.
Are you or have you felt similarly towards exercise?
Where are you in your relationship to exercise? Guilt? Avoidance? Content? There is no wrong answer! I would love to talk about it more! Comment below.