Exercise molds body, relieves stress

Exercise can benefit your mind as much as your body, relieving stress by providing a vent from the days de-manding activities.

Exercise can benefit your mind as much as your body, relieving stress by providing a vent from the day’s de-manding activities.

Stress seems to be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to rule your life.

In fact, such simple steps as working out or even taking a walk can stimulate the feel-good endorphins and serotonin in your brain that helps you relax, according to Michelle Callahan, a developmental psychologist and relationship expert.

Jogging, lifting weights, doing aerobics, whatever your fitness activity may be, can be just as good for your mind as your body.

Such activity requires concentration and enables your mind to free itself of stress.

Besides such stress-busting basics as exercise, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest, other simple steps to help prevent stress include:

• Learn to plan. Being disorganized can result in being late, missing appointments and feeling generally overwhelmed.

Use a palm pilot, an agenda or even a lined note pad to prioritize. Plan out what you can and can’t do and remind yourself of what’s coming up.

• Recognize your limits. No matter how hard you try, you will not be perfect. Con-sider goals that you can achieve.

Also, remember the people around you. Friends, family members and co-workers are not going to be perfect either.

• Don’t forget to play. With increasingly busy lives, many people, particularly women, focus on what needs to be done and forget to schedule enough time for things they enjoy.

Go to the movies, visit a museum or have lunch with friends. Doing something you enjoy can restore your energy and actually make you more productive during your work time.

• Find a relaxation technique that works for you. Whether it’s meditation, yoga or even gardening, find an activity that stills the mind. Just focusing on your breathing can help you calm down and focus when you are feeling stressed.

• Stay connected. Studies have found that there are physical and emotional benefits to staying connected with loved ones.

It may seem simple, but taking the time to reach out to friends and family with a quick phone call or a greeting card not only makes the recipient feel loved and appreciated, the gesture also can relieve your stress by helping you feel connected to those who are important in your life.

Intimacy and sharing have been shown to improve immune system function.

Taking time out to show you care and communicating with loved ones can help your emotional well-being too, Callahan said.