Exercise As A Stress Reliever, As Told By A Cookie Lover

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Exercise is important for mental healthHello. Let me start off with an apology. I swear I’m not That Girl. No, I am the girl who usually prefers reading books on the couch with a big brownie nearby, but alas, there is one teeny, tiny healthy part of me I just can’t shake.

I love how exercise makes me feel.

Oh, man. I’m the worst. Sorry, gals.

But seriously, no matter how grumpy I am or tired I feel, if I make the time to move my body, I feel better. Sometimes just a little bit better, but if I get good and sweaty, I can feel on top of the world. If I feel an anxiety attack coming on or can’t sleep, I do a dance video or a few yoga moves, and it’s better than any pill I’ve ever been prescribed*.

This is the part where you roll your eyes at me and say, “Maggie, that’s cool, but I don’t have the luxury to add exercise to my to-do list.” Which brings me to where I get all tough love and tell you how you can make it happen if you want it enough.

Excuse One: I Don’t Have Alone Time.

Let me preface this one by saying I’m of the “cry it out” and “there’s no reason to ever go without a shower unless you don’t want to shower” camps. Nine times out of ten, your kids don’t have to be right on your hip 24/7. Sit them in front of a screen, make good use out of nap time (Scratch that – nap during their nap time. I’m not a dictator!), or do some yoga after they go to bed.

Worst case – let them join you. Go on a run while they ride bikes. Do a dance video and let them try. Challenge each other to see who can hold a plank the longest. This takes away the benefits of mental clarity and quiet, but it will encourage a healthy habit in them, too.

Excuse Two: The Time I Have Isn’t Enough

So many great video lessons are 30 minutes or less, but if you’ve been a gym rat until now, that may not feel like enough work. To which I say, “hello, have you met HIIT?” Prepare to have your tushy kicked all around your living room! This high-intensity program works quickly and will get your heart beating fast enough to give you the adrenaline rush we want.

Bonus 1 – These programs usually require focused attention so you won’t be able to think about what’s stressing you out.

Bonus 2 – HIIT can be done with just bodyweight so that you won’t miss the gym. (Now the kid care at the gym, that’s another story…)

P.S. Someone told me she didn’t have time to wash her hair or interest in adding another outfit to the laundry pile. Girl, athleisure is all the rage these days. Go for an easy walk or do pilates. No sweat, no problem.

Excuse Three: I Don’t Like Running/Zumba/Yoga/Strength Training.

Cool. Find something you do like. The world is your oyster, and with the recent pandemic, there are a million and one online apps and YouTube channels you could try out no cost to you. Some of my favorites include Burn Boot Camp, Peloton (not just for spin!), Yoga by Adrienne, and PopSugar Fitness. Or simply strap on some sneakers, put a podcast in your earbuds, and get to walking, friend!

For exercise to help you mentally, it must be something you enjoy vs. have to do. Keep poking around until you find something that doesn’t feel like torture.

Excuse Four: I Have No Motivation To Add One More Thing To The List.

I hear you, friend. There is so much on our plates right now. But you know what – there has never not been too much on your plate. We live in a world that prizes “busy,” but I think a lot of that is time mismanagement.

Ex. How did you get to this article? How much time was wasted on scrolling before you got here? You may call this your “me time,” but do you ever leave a scrolling session feeling good about the world? Ahem.

Instead of aimlessly taking a break from all the things by retreating to your smartphone, drop into a few sun salutations, squats, or simple stretches. The next time you want a break, do ten push-ups, walk up and down the stairs a few times, or turn on some music and flail about. Repeat as necessary. Before you know it, you’ll feel better. Moving your body + less time on Facebook can work wonders for a gal.

In times of worldwide stress or just a bad day for yourself, exercise really can make all the difference. And you know what – you just exercised… Eat that cookie, too. 😉

 

*Editor’s note: NO ONE is suggesting that exercise replaces medication, doctors, or therapy. Here at Milwaukee Mom, we believe that taking care of mom takes a village and a variety of things. Exercise is just one of them. 

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