Stress is normal, and exercise can help you manage it. Understanding what triggers your stress and finding ways to handle it are important in managing anxiety disorders and depression, too.
National Stress Øut Week 2012 takes place November 11–17. And it's just in time because dealing with the outcomes of important elections or the wide-ranging consequences of an unprecedented superstorm can be highly stressful. And the routines related to work, family and other daily pressures can also cause stress.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) urges you to take time to relax, unwind, and find a strategy for managing stress. Understanding what triggers your stress can also help you cope with an anxiety disorder and depression.
"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health," says Jasper Smits, PhD, the director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a member of the ADAA Scientific Council. "People who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and lower levels of stress and anger," Smits says.
Exercise can cause the body to produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. A low or moderately intense workout makes you feel energized and healthy; regular aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve sleep and self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Learn more about how exercise helps manage stress and anxiety.
Ashley Erickson, of Austin, Texas, has dealt with anxiety her whole life. "I have had an extremely amazing support system of family and friends," she says, "but not everyone has the resources to get help (or even knows there is help available) when it comes to anxiety disorders." She runs to reduce her stress and anxiety, and she’s running in the next Los Angeles Marathon to raise funds to help others suffering from anxiety.
Psychologist Simon Rego, a member of the ADAA Board of Directors, is running a marathon, too. "Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression do not know that what they are experiencing is common and that there are effective treatments available to help them!”
About National Stress Øut Week
ADAA launched National Stress Øut Week in 2005 to help people manage the stress in their lives and find treatment. For more about the benefits of exercise on mental health, visit the ADAA website.