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Modern life can be stressful, but there’s no need for training to be another factor that adds to your anxiety levels. Use training as a way of de-stressing.

Between work constraints, family responsibilities and social commitments, life can often get very stressful and you feel your anxiety levels rising up and up. When you then add training into the mix, things can often get worse.

Sometimes, getting to the gym can feel like a real chore, and if you’re tired after a hard day at work or have troubles on your mind, training’s probably the last thing you want to do. Add in potential traffic jams, busy changing rooms and queuing for equipment, and you’re just about ready to snap.

Going to the gym should be about getting some “Me Time.”

While you should certainly push yourself, train hard, try to set PBs and leave the gym shaking and sweating, satisfied with your performance, it should also be an opportunity to get away from the toils of everyday life. For that hour session two of three times a week, you shouldn’t have to think about anything else, as your mind is one hundred percent focused on your workout.

But when the stress starts adding up, it’s easy to forget this. If work’s busy, you might have to take your cell phone into the gym, or perhaps the kids need picking up from school, so you cut your workout time down to 30 minutes. Pretty soon you’re skipping the gym altogether, and on the odd occasion you do get in there, your thoughts wander and you don’t get much done at all.

Don’t let training take a back seat though. Working out is just as important, if not even more so in times when you’re stressed and anxious than when life is normal and you’re feeling pretty calm.

Exercising has long been associated with reducing anxiety and stress.

 It does this in a number of ways.

Firstly, your brain and muscles are linked via nerve cells. When you’re brain is working overtime and you’re feeling mentally fatigued, this has a knock on effect to the rest of your body, and you start feeling tired, run down and lethargic.

You’re probably also heard of endorphins. They’re the natural chemicals your body releases during exercise, and are nature’s painkillers. They elevate your mood, clear your head and leave you feeling far less anxious.

Training is also a fantastic way to get rid of your pent up aggression. There’s nothing better for releasing tension than hitting a new personal best on a squat, deadlift or bench press, or sprinting as fast as you can on the treadmill. Kickboxing can also give you the satisfaction of physically hitting something to release aggression, but has the added advantage of not seriously injuring a family member or your annoying work colleague!

Finally, when you train, your mind shouldn’t be thinking about anything other than your session. This is why having a set plan and defined, realistic goals is so important. Without these, you’ll amble around the gym, flitting from one piece of equipment to the next, and soon enough will start thinking about all your stresses and get anxious again. A hard session, where you’re determined to push the intensity and break some personal records should leave no room in your head for anything else.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Exercise for Stress and Anxiety”, Accessed on August 24, 2012, Retrieved from http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
  • “The 50-Rep Eustress Workout”, by Nate Green, Published on August 16, 2012, Accessed on August 24, 2012, Retrieved from http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/the-50-rep-workout
  • Photo courtesy of hyb on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/shyb/84333463
  • Photo courtesy of hezav on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/heza/3218701045