While working out is typically something that brings you a whole lot of energy, there are also some fitness activities and tricks that can give you a better sense of calm. If you’ve been working out for a while, you’ve likely come in contact with quite a few techniques that can be used in another context (specifically, in the context of stress relief). So if you’re feeling particularly stressed, anxious, or jittery, try one of these five calming exercises (or all of ‘em, for that matter) to bring yourself to a more centered, happier place.
5 Calming Exercises to Use During Times of Stress
#1 Self Massage
We know you’ve got a foam roller in your closet that never gets used — time to bust it out! And if you’ve got those yoga massage balls, even better. A self-massage (sometimes called myofascial release) isn’t just a good way to warm up or cool down for a workout, it also helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, AKA the “off switch” for your fight-flight-freeze response. Spending some time getting into all that stiff muscle tissue with a foam roller or ball tool can help relieve not just physical tension, but mental tension as well.
#2 Yin Yoga
This one might seem obvious, but a calming, grounding yoga practice is all about finding peace. If you’re feeling super tired or overwhelmed, come back to center and try a tranquil flow that’ll align your body, stretch your muscles, and still your active mind.
Walking is running’s chill sibling; you’ll get LISS (low intensity sustained state) cardio, without spiking cortisol. In fact, walking can release stress-reducing endorphins, and studies have shown that walking for 20 to 40 minutes can even alleviate depression. Plus — it’s hard to beat fresh air and sunshine, especially when you’re feeling tense.
Pro tip: leave the phone at home so you can unplug and unwind further.
#4 Deep Breathing
You learn this technique in yoga and Pilates, but it really helps you activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing exercises help connect your brain and body, ground yourself in the present moment (an excellent anti-anxiety trick), and can seriously reduce stress, almost instantly.
Remember your breathing during yoga and Pilates workouts, or do some independent deep breathing on your own. Wanna take it up a notch? Couple deep breathing with meditation, and let a wave of calm wash over you.
#5 Cool Down
A solid post-workout cool down can ensure you settle your body and mind after a workout, so you don’t have all that excess cortisol (stress hormone) hanging around. Seriously though, regardless of stress levels, make sure you do this after every workout — it’s super important!
Calm Your Mind & Support Your Body With These Five Hacks
Your best bet? Try all of these! Add self-massage, yin yoga, walking, deep breathing, and consistent cooldowns to your weekly schedule, so you can keep your body and mind in peak condition while you continue to work out.
This kind of physical and mental recovery will ensure that you’re able to work out for years to come — and with the reduced stress, you just might have even more years ahead of you.