Modern life is in many ways challenging. While the average human is able to overcome many challenges and remain in control psychologically and physically, some challenges are above one’s capacity to cope with (Holmes, 2007). According to the American Psychological Association survey in 2008, seven out of ten Americans suffer from stress in one way or the other every day. The inability to handle situations or challenges leads to a weakened state of mind and ultimately body. It is, therefore, crucial to find ways of dealing with difficult situations, in order to remain healthy and one of the simplest, most effective methods of coping with stress and anxiety is organized physical practice. This essay will explore the effectiveness of physical exercise in stress and anxiety management.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress can be defined in numerous ways, but one of the simplest definitions is a state of mind and body, which results from one’s incapacity to handle difficult situations, where the outcome of that ability is essential. The challenges that cause the stress scenario are called stressors and include work challenges, social relations challenges, insecurity, personality challenges and much more (Gale & Davidson, 2007). A modest amount of stress is constructive in that it prompts one to operate more productively and leads to enhanced mental and physical development. Anxiety refers to the lingering feelings of dread, fear, concern or discomfort that result during difficult situations. While a certain amount of anxiety maybe good for enhancing balance in life’s situations, excessive anxiety is, like stress, destructive. The section below will look at symptoms of stress and anxiety (Seligman, 2005).
Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Symptoms of stress can be broadly classified into physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral. Physical symptoms are traits, such as aches, pains, diarrhea, dizziness, loss of sex drive among others (Ebell, 2008). Emotional symptoms include temper, moodiness, agitation, isolation and loneliness, a general feeling of being unhappy and depression. The cognitive symptoms include memory problems, poor judgment, and inability to concentrate, worry and negative feelings. Behavioral symptoms include over or under eating, oversleeping or lack of sleep, isolation from others, and drugs of alcohol reliance, procrastination and nervousness. Symptoms of anxiety are similar to the symptoms of stress and include aches, feeling tense, dread or apprehension, paranoid tendencies, and withdrawal from people and situations (Holmes, 2007).
Ways of Coping with Stress and Anxiety
There are various ways of management and they include the following:
Mind control includes the combined processes of enabling one’s mind to handle challenges without losing control. It involves remaining positive, being confident, controlling ones thoughts, emotions and environment (Ebell, 2008).
Proper balance diet provides the much-needed balance in the body, leading to an optimized environment for proper body function in times of stress and anxiety. The daily food intake should include the three major food categories, which are proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates in proper proportions (Seligman, 2005).
In many situations, one can find help either from family members, work colleagues, experts and any other relevant professionals if the situations require (Ebell, 2008).
Exercise not only helps to manage stress but is also a vital ingredient in remaining healthy and wading off many diseases. Exercise does not always entail strenuous and painful procedures but can easily be achieved through simple routines strategically applied. The effects of exercise in stress and anxiety management being our major concern, the section below will discuss exercise in depth (Holmes, 2007).
According to the American psychological Association survey, conducted in the year 2008, seventy percent of adults in the U.S.A suffer some form of stress daily. Most of them say it interferes with their daily lives. Comparing between 2008 and 2009, more than half of the respondents reported an increase in stress levels (Gale & Davidson, 2007). Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) recent online poll shows that about 14% of people currently find exercise a very effective way of stress management. Further, 18% of people reported that talking to family and friends worked for them, 14% watch movies, 13% listen to music and a further 14% eat in order to fight effects of stress (Holmes, 2007).
While all the above approaches work well, health professionals suggest that exercise is the best procedure because, besides having no side effects, it leads to more benefits such as improved state of general health and fighting common infections on top of stress containment (Gale & Davidson, 2007). According to ADAA, of the people who do exercise as a way to fight stress, 29% walk, while 20% run or jog. An additional 11% use yoga to manage stress. During exercise, blood circulation to the brain is enhanced, leading to better energy supply to the brain and better productivity in thought processes. Scientists have established a connection between regular aerobic exercise with decreased tension levels as well as mood stabilization, better sleep and higher self- esteem (Seligman, 2005).
Exercise is not only a very efficient method of stress management, but also one with other benefits. Physical exercise should be enhanced as a general health booster as well as a way to remain physically fit and reduce chances of other infections. It is within the reach of every person to apply simple procedure in fighting stress and anxiety. This way, productivity will be increased, thus, a better living condition for all people (Gale & Davidson, 2007).