Stress is one of the sneakiest thieves of joy and health. Your body experiences a lot of tension and suffering that you might not even realize. Depending on your level of stress, instead of turning to prescriptions right away, you might want to try a free medication that helps train your body to cope with life’s stress better every time: exercise. Far too often, exercise is directly correlated with losing weight. While a convenient side effect of movement might be weight loss, there are countless equally important reasons to exercise – stress being one of them. 

What happens if I get too stressed?

Stress might seem inevitable, or worse – you might blame yourself for your stress, intensifying the pressure you experience. Without proper management, your stress will engulf you and wreak havoc on your mind, body, and spirit with little to no mercy. There are plenty of ways to prepare your mind to handle stress:

  • Journaling
  • Breathing exercises
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Affirmations
  • Talking with a professional or a trusted friend

Your mind is crucial, but what about the rest of your body? What I think we forget is that stress affects your whole body, not just your brain. You feel a weight in your chest, heaviness and burning in your limbs, lumps in your throat, and a filter-like vision when you reach a certain point of stress. You most likely have unconscious nervous habits that kick in like biting your nails, tapping, or your brain completely shutting down like it’s 2020. 

Ignored stress can easily lead to more severe conditions like:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart Disease 

Some of the stepping stones to these scary “big name” conditions are the “easily manageable” pains like:

  • Pinch nerves
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol 
  • Headaches
  • Swelling
  • Tightness in your muscles
  • Twitching 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unshakable sadness
  • Mood swings
  • Off sleeping patterns
  • Mild chest pains
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing thoughts
  • Outbursts/irritability 

The unattended little things add up to the big things! 

How does exercise affect stress?

Movement has a profound effect on every facet of your body. Exercise promotes physical, emotional, and mental health. Why? Because of a cool little phenomenon called neurogenesis. For years, it was believed that the amount of brain cells you’re born with is all you get. Thanks to surprising advancements in brain research, neuroplasticity – the study of the brain’s ability to function and adapt to life experiences – became a hot topic in the late 1940s. Since then, discoveries have shown that the brain can produce more cells – called neurogenesis – contradicting the bleak, false reality we once accepted.

This is empowering! One of the top producers of neurogenesis, as you probably guessed by now is exercise! Regular movement increases the production of brain cells to assist with: 

  • Memory retention
  • Cognitive function
  • Proper blood flow
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Agility
  • Hormone balance

All of those symptoms lessen heavier burdens that we tend to think are unavoidable or irreversible such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep, dizziness, panic attacks, and other symptoms of stress. 

The best part is that movement isn’t simply covering your symptoms, it’s alleviating symptoms from the roots. Stress increases levels of your hormone, cortisol and causes inflammation which sets off a domino effect in your body. From increased heart rates to plummeting mental health, saying it doesn’t play nicely with the rest of your hard-working body is an understatement. It starts fights with your hormones, throwing off the balance, and can lead to angry organs, a depleted brain, and other bodily systems deciding not to show up to work anymore. Stress is the leading cause of hypertension, fibromyalgia, and conditions of the like.  

The most dangerous part of stress in the global western society is that we are juggling so much, and we’ve been conditioned to get comfortable and praise stress for so long that even when we choose peace, we don’t know how stressed we are. Exercise increases endorphins to combat cortisol! You can enjoy a surge of natural serotonin and endorphins through an average of 30 minutes of movement – it’s FREE! Additionally, after moving your body for a minimum of 10 minutes, there is a great chance you will feel a sense of accomplishment and feel ready to take on the next task with a more positive outlook. If you move for an average of 30 minutes a day, you are helping your body: 

  • Build its immune system
  • Even out hormones
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve organs’ communication (which accelerates your ability to heal/bounce back)
  • Reduce fatal swelling

Of course, exercise is always more fun with friends! Gym memberships are a good place to start, but if you’re looking for a sisterhood of women who are not only on a fitness journey but a holistic health journey, iHeal might be right for you! Inside this membership, you get

  • A forum to ask all of your health questions
  • Friends to workout with (fun suggestions are welcome!)
  • Group coaching opportunities
  • Pop up cooking classes for healthy food with FLAVOR (we don’t do lightly salted grass and beans here!)
  • Access to me! (Certified Integrative Health Coach Sakinah Bunch, INHC)

I started this membership for women like you, who are dedicated to their goals and need ongoing support beyond a numeric program. Health is more fun and exciting when you get to join like-minded friends who are inspiring you with their goals, authenticity, wholesome conversation, laughter, food inspiration, and warm community. 

Click here to learn more about iHeal. I’d love to see you there!

Bringing the family back to the table,

Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.

After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare.   She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes when women, the cornerstone of the family, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.

Helpful Links and Resources

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