The relationship between exercise and stress has long been a researched connection. Physical activity is one of the simplest ways to manage the various stressors in your life, with everything from going for a long jog to practicing yoga being ample ways to control tension. The reason for exercise being an important source for relieving stress is the body’s production of endorphins during physical activity. The Mayo Clinic states that the more you work out, the more feel-good neurotransmitters are produced in the brain, which in turn can have impacts ranging from increasing self-confidence to reducing anxiety.
But just because you work out doesn’t necessarily mean that relaxation is easy to obtain. Implementing certain stress-relieving exercises during your athletic workout is an essential part of decreasing the overall amount of emotional strain in your life. These practices, along with ample exercise, can help you find more peace of mind during the day, from feeling relaxed at the office to getting a better night’s sleep. Here are some of the lesser-known ways you can relieve stress after a long session at the gym:
Turn on the classics
Whether you’re familiar with Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40” or you’ve just found out that Beethoven wasn’t just a dog in a movie, classical music can help evoke relaxation in just about anyone. Many studies have alluded to the connection between classical music and cognitive health, especially how soothing symphony sounds can help relieve stress. Arizona State University reports scientists have analyzed the calming effects produced by classical music, specifically focusing on the production of cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is often referred to as the “stress hormone,” and while cortisol is essential for functions such as immune response and blood pressure regulation, too much of it can cause chronic stress to build up. The study reported by ASU showed that people who listened to classical music had shorter stress responses and could lower cortisol levels quicker when compared to the other groups that didn’t listen to the music. Because exercise automatically increases production of cortisol, listening to the tranquil sounds of classical music may help relieve stress during your workout recovery.
Chew a stick of gum
The reasons for chewing gum tend to vary as much as there are flavors available today. From nostalgia habits to showing off your bubble-blowing abilities, chomping on a stick of gum may seem like an ode to childhood, but in fact it’s been proven to potentially be a simple way to ease stress. In a study published in the National Institutes of Health, researchers tested 50 volunteers to take part in an examination to see if chewing gum twice a day for two weeks had any effect on anxiety levels. Before, during and after the study, the subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire, which inquired about their emotions, energy and overall mood. After completing the analysis, the researchers found that those who chewed gum through the testing period had significantly lower anxiety scores than the control group. Other areas such as depression, fatigue and cognitive clarity were also found to be improved upon in the gum-chewing participants.
While it may seem impossible not to check your phone after a long workout at the gym, research has alluded to overloading on technology as one of the easiest ways to conjure up stress over time. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have studied how long periods of technological usage, such as computer screens, television sets and smartphones, can have a profound impact upon stress levels, depression symptoms and overall quality of sleep. One of the key findings in the study was how late night computer usage in particular was associated with more frequent episodes of stress in both men and women. Instead of huddling in front of your laptop or tablet after exercising, curl up with a good book, which, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota is an excellent source for stress relief.
Let’s get physical
Who can argue that a good kiss can always make you feel better? Now there’s also scientific proof that relates the act of smooching to stress relief. In a study led by Dr. Laura Berman and colleagues from Northwestern University, people who regularly engage in kissing and cuddling during moments of intimacy with their partner are more likely to experience less stress in their lives. There were more than 2,000 men and women between the ages of 25 and 55 tested in the study, who were also in committed relationships. It was also concluded that those who were found to have lower frequencies of kissing and cuddling had higher levels of anxiety and depression. Just be sure to shower after you return from your workout in order to expect a solid peck.