Stress

It’s an unavoidable consequence of modern life. I think it’s pretty safe to say we all feel it in some way, at some point in our lives. And it’s no wonder when we’re under constant pressure these days to do, do, do – to be successful, to lose weight, to get that promotion, to keep up with friends, to juggle work/life commitments…the list is endless. But what we don’t often realise is that the 24-hour, fast-paced lifestyle, which has now become the norm, is wreaking havoc on our physical and mental wellbeing.

It’s true that a little stress can be good for us, but when it becomes excessive and persistent it can leave us feeling overwhelmed, out of control and exhausted. The trick is knowing how to manage it.

After two years working overseas and living a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle, I came home burnt out, stressed and unhealthy.

I decided enough was enough and nervously booked in to my first ever HIIT class. I can still remember the feeling when I left that class now – I was bright red, huffing and puffing, feeling as if my legs were going to buckle beneath me, but I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I stumbled home. I felt exhausted but bursting with energy at the same time. I felt more alive than ever and I was hooked.

I went back again and again, half expecting the initial buzz to fade, but it never did. Yes, I worried about all the normal things people worry about when trying something new and out of their comfort zone – I’ll look stupid; I won’t be as good as the others; I won’t know what I’m doing, blah blah blah.

After two years working overseas and living a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle, I came home burnt out, stressed and unhealthy.

I decided enough was enough and nervously booked in to my first ever HIIT class. I can still remember the feeling when I left that class now – I was bright red, huffing and puffing, feeling as if my legs were going to buckle beneath me, but I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I stumbled home. I felt exhausted but bursting with energy at the same time. I felt more alive than ever and I was hooked.

I went back again and again, half expecting the initial buzz to fade, but it never did. Yes, I worried about all the normal things people worry about when trying something new and out of their comfort zone – I’ll look stupid; I won’t be as good as the others; I won’t know what I’m doing, blah blah blah.

But the more I went, the more confident I felt and the less I worried. I tried different classes and quickly discovered the ones I loved, as well as the ones I didn’t love! And looking back over the last couple of years, I realised the massive difference it’s made to my mental wellbeing, as well as my physical health. I put that down to two simple factors:

Firstly, the infamous ‘high’ you experience after aerobic exercise. This is caused by the increased production and release of several different chemicals – endorphins, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine – which work together to give us an immediate mood boost, a rush of energy, motivation and confidence.

Secondly, exercise gives our minds a well-earned break and an outlet for symptoms of anxiety. We’re on the go non-stop and our minds are constantly trying to stay one step ahead. We over-think, we worry and, when we feel stressed, our minds work even harder to try to find a solution to the problem. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t think our way out of stress; it only makes things worse. Exercise can help us break this cycle.

But the more I went, the more confident I felt and the less I worried. I tried different classes and quickly discovered the ones I loved, as well as the ones I didn’t love! And looking back over the last couple of years, I realise the massive difference it’s made to my mental wellbeing, as well as my physical health. I put that down to two simple factors:

Firstly, the infamous ‘high’ you experience after aerobic exercise. This is caused by the increased production and release of several different chemicals – endorphins, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine – which work together to give us an immediate mood boost, a rush of energy, motivation and confidence.

Secondly, exercise gives our minds a well-earned break and an outlet for symptoms of anxiety. We’re on the go non-stop and our minds are constantly trying to stay one step ahead. We over-think, we worry and, when we feel stressed, our minds work even harder to try to find a solution to the problem. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t think our way out of stress; it only makes things worse. Exercise can help us break this cycle.

The fitness industry is, and always will be, focused on body image because that’s what sells. And, whilst I totally understand that this is a major motivation for many, I can’t help but think it under-sells the more important benefits. Health and fitness can offer you SO MUCH MORE than a flat stomach and a smaller number on the scales. Not only can it help you feel less stressed and more positive in general, it can give you a surge of motivation, confidence and the energy to handle whatever the day throws at you.  

I decided to become a personal trainer because I want to help shift the focus from aesthetics to health and wellbeing. I want to show you that when you listen intuitively to YOUR OWN body (instead of the Instagram version) and focus on YOUR health and what makes YOU feel good, you will get so much more from your workouts. Your mind and body will respond in a much healthier way and you’ll soon begin to see and feel the results. And when you feel physically fitter and stronger, you’ll also feel mentally fitter and stronger, which will allow you to function at your optimal level in everyday life – not just in the gym. I want to prove that exercise doesn’t have to be a punishment or a chore that we dread. If used in the right way and with the right approach, it can make us feel more alive and more empowered than ever.

After all, if you can get yourself to the gym before 7am, you can pretty much do anything, right?!