Why Does Exercise Stress Me Out? 5 Little Things That Could Be Making Your Workouts Harder
From runner's high, to sweat-infused euphoria, to all the amazing feel-good endorphins that exercising can bring, once you get bitten by the workout bug, it can do amazing things for the stress we all feel in our day-to-day lives. But what if you literally start dreading going to your favorite workout class, and you're no longer basking in that post-workout glow that everyone knows and loves? After a few sh*tty workouts, you might start to wonder: Why does exercise stress me out? Isn't it supposed to do the exact opposite?
It's strange because an increased heart rate, profuse sweating, and faster breathing are all indicative of, well, TBH, a full-blown panic attack. But these are also all the things that make a good ol' sweat sesh awesome, and they actually help to relieve stress in most situations. According to Livestrong, just one gym session can help to soothe symptoms of anxiety. However, there are a few factors that can lead your sacred time in the #TempleOfGains to have adverse effects on your racing mind and knotted up shoulders. Here are five little things in your workout routine that may be making your time at the gym more stressful than it needs to be.
1. You Might Be Pushing Yourself Too Hard
Going way too hard, way too often is categorized as overtraining, and it can potentially lead to issues like chronic fatigue and even depression.
Overtraining means something different for everyone though. While too much cardio may be the case for some, certain high-intensity exercise routines simply may not work for other people's bodies and stress responses. It's all about tuning into and listening to your body on this one.
If you feel exhausted AF, sick, or simply stressed as all hell, give your hardworking bod a break until you know you're ready to get in the zone again.
2. You're Not Getting Enough Shut-Eye
An adequate amount of sleep is so important to complement your hard work in the gym. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, without disturbances (silence the phone, people!), and aim for at least seven hours a night to avoid being stressed as all hell.
Remember, too, that rest days are absolutely key to the recovery process, so don't go thinking you're the Hulk and powering through a week of workouts without giving yourself a break.
You might be hooked on those endorphins, but not taking a rest will lead to inevitable burnout and more stress than it's ultimately worth.
3. You Forget To Mix Up Your Workouts
Even if you're obsessed with high-intensity exercises, mixing it up with some gentle walking or restorative yoga will keep stress at bay.
Pushing yourself to do HIIT all the time, for example, can put your body in a fight-or-flight mode, which makes cortisol rise much higher than it should. Watching those cortisol levels will help keep you cool, calm, and collected so you don't dread your next sweat sesh.
4. You Think Carbs Are The Enemy
Repeat after me: Carbohydrates are literally your best friend.
Cutting carbs will majorly screw with your hormones, and the imbalances going on in your body will make you feel like a walking stress ball.
Incorporate whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes into your pre and post-workout snacks to fuel your body and keep stress at bay.
5. You Avoid HIIT Workouts Like The Plague
Yes, some days, a nice long walk or a soothing yoga practice is just what your body needs. But squeezing in a HIIT workout here and there can do wonders for your stress levels and chatter-infused mind. According to Livestrong, high-intensity exercise helps stave off feelings of anxiety more than low-intensity workouts.
However, if you still absolutely hate that type of workout after trying it out, don't do it! For real, when your workout routine makes you feel stressed out, it's often because you simply don't enjoy what you're doing. Finding ways to move your body that you absolutely love will be the prime way to take your stress levels way down. So don't be afraid to experiment and find what makes you feel like a million bucks.