Imagine you are about to ask your boss for a big promotion you feel you deserve, or you are about to do a big presentation or speech in front of a large crowd. Your stomach is in knots, your heart is beating fast. Your skin feels clammy, your forehead is moist and it is getting harder to breathe. These are the side effects of stress, and they come and go during every day of our lives.

Mental Effects of Stress

The root cause of stress is emotion. The mental symptoms can range from worry, irritability relentlessness, insomnia, anger and hostility, sensations of dread, foreboding or panic. One way to alleviate stress symptoms is to reduce life triggering problems that can cause stress and modify your behavior.

This could mean staying away from toxic or negative people in your life, or going places that can trigger anxiety or stress. Of course some people or things- such as your job or your boss- can’t be fully avoided, but try your best and find the positive in every situation.

Stress affects the nerve connections of the brain and the rest of the body feels the impact as well. We begin to feel sluggish and lack any sort of motivation. We become irritable and have short tempers. Our body begins to ache in areas where our muscles have tensed from being on the edge about something or angry. 

Physical Effects of Stress

Stress affects the nerve connections of the brain and the rest of the body feels the impact as well. We begin to feel sluggish and lack any sort of motivation. We become irritable and have short tempers. Our body begins to ache in areas where our muscles have tensed from being on the edge about something or angry.

Mental stress can actually cause physical stress. Some of the main symptoms of stress or anxiety include muscle tightening such as taught facial expressions, clenched jaws. When muscles tighten in certain areas, we can suffer from headaches, neck and back pain or jaw pain.

Other symptoms include your skin becoming pale, sweaty and clammy, butterfly sensations in your stomach, heartburn, cramps, lump feeling in our throat, rapid breathing and lose of breath. In severe cases, hyperventilation can occur which can lead to tingling of the face, lightheadedness or even fainting.

The physical symptoms stress can cause can be stressful themselves and cause mental problems. During a stress response, the mind and body can amplify each other’s distress signals creating a vicious cycle of tension and anxiety. You’re basically fighting yourself.

How Fitness Can Ease Stress

7 out of 10 adults in the US say they experience stress or anxiety on a daily basis. But being active can reduce that stress significantly. While stress is impossible to eliminate, there are ways to manage it. Stress control can and should involve the body either by mild to intense workouts or through deep breathing exercises. Fitness has been proven to improve alertness and concentration and enhances overall cognitive function. This is especially true when stress has depleted all of your energy or ability to concentrate.

When we exercise, our brains release “feel good” hormones called endorphins, also called natural pain killers. This is what gives us the runner’s high during an intense workout or running session. Endorphins and can increase mental alertness, energy and a positive mood. We also will be able to get a better night’s sleep, for endorphins can beat insomnia. Getting much needed rest can also eliminate stress. 

Fitness Activities

Fitness can mean an array of different activities. The activity that you do doesn’t matter so much. The important part is that you get started; and soon. It is recommended to do some sort of mild physical activity at least 30-40 minutes nearly every day or high intensity workouts 15-20 minutes every day. Incorporate some sort of strength training 2-3 times a week, and stretching is imperative to proper muscle regeneration. The exception to not working out is sickness or injury. No excuses!

Here are a few activities to get you started on your journey.

Walking or Jogging

There are several different activities you can do to relieve mental stress and help you let go of your worries. Many people have found that working large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive manner works best at relieving stress. The easiest way is to go on a brisk, 10-minute walk. Try walking before work, on your break, or whenever you get home. Whenever you can get a short walk in can be beneficial to your mental health.

Go to the Gym

Often times, it may be better to work out in a gym. Being around people or in a certain environment can help put you in the mood or motivate you to workout, or push harder. The gym also gives you several different types of equipment to work out on so you’re not doing the same repetitive motions over and over again because it’s the only 2 you know at home. They also may offer a few personal training classes that will help guide you to your physical and mental goals.

Workout With a Friend

Similar to going to the gym to be around people to help motivate you, working out with a friend that shares the same goals a you can offer up the same benefits. It can encourage you to know that someone is waiting for you and you are motivating them as well. Working out with a friend, co-worker or a group of people can bring out a new motivation and commitment.


Yoga is one of the best practices known to relieve stress. There are several positions in yoga that are proven to relieve stress and also allows you to get tones in the process.

Deep Breathing Exercises

When we are stressed, we may experience rapid, shallow and erratic breathing. Deep breathing is the complete opposite and is done by slow, deep regular breathing. It is easy to learn and can be done anywhere at any time, so you can use it to dissolve stress in stressful situations.

You would want to practice deep breathing in advance, then use it when you need it most. If you find this exercise helpful, it is best to repeat this exercise 4-6 times a day; even on good days.

How to Deep Breathe

• Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
• Hold your breath briefly.
• Exhale slowly, thinking "relax."
• Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly. 

Do What You Love

If walking, running or going to the gym just isn’t cutting it for you, try doing a physical activity you love. Go for hike, go swim, ride a bike or play a sport. Doing something you actually enjoy will help eliminate stress and get your mind off of what is causing that stress in the first place. Also, when you do an activity you love doing, it won’t feel like a chore or an exercise. It will feel more like fun.

Physical Benefits of Fitness

• Heart pumping
• Body moving
• Muscle toning
• Boosts metabolism
• Lower blood pressure
• Improve cholesterol
• Reduce blood sugar
• Reduces levels of stress hormones- like adrenaline and cortisol
• Stimulates production of endorphins
o Gives feeling of relaxation and optimism
• Lose weight  

Benefits of Physical Activity to Your Health

Exercise in general cuts risks of:
• Heart attack
• Stroke
• Diabetes
• Colon and breast cancer
• Osteoporosis and fractures
• Obesity
• Depression
• Dementia
• Slows aging process
• Increases energy
• Prolongs life
• Reduces stressful thoughts of health  

Mental Exercises

Mental exercises can be beneficial to well… your mental health. There are several different exercises you can do that are very simple to do. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Meditation has been used for centuries to help you become one with the mind, body and spirit. Use it to relax your muscles and gain insight on your thoughts. Meditation makes you aware of your surroundings and your well-being and is a great way to let go of your thoughts and bring positivity in your life.

When you meditate, it can reverse the physiological signs of stress. It incorporates deep breathing to regulate your breathing speed, lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. It can diminish the body’s oxygen consumption and reduce blood adrenaline levels which contribute to stress. 

Talk to Friends and Family

Talk to those that you trust. It doesn’t have to be about the stress you are going through, even though that may help. Just talking to people can help you get your mind off of whatever is causing you stress.

Talk to a Psychiatrist

Talking to a psychiatrist can help get to the root of your stress; what is bothering you to the point of where you’re feeling stressed out. They can give you professional advice on coping methods or give you recommendations on what to do next. Also, it can be a great relief to get your stress out on the table and begin to deal with it head on.

Write it Down

Ok, so this may not be completely mental, but writing down your thoughts can also help you get to the root of what is causing you stress. Writing down how you feel about a something or someone helps, just by simply getting your thoughts out. You can write down your goals and create SMART goals to help you achieve them.

You don’t have to only write down your worries and your woes. You can also write creatively. Write a song, a poem or a short story. Who knows, you could even write the next hot selling novel or find out that you are great at blogging. 

Mental Benefits of Fitness

• Boosts your spirit
• Exhilarates and relaxes
• Provides stimulation and calm
• Improved sleep
• As you lose weight, gain stamina and strength your self-image will improve
• Gain self-confidence and pride in the hard work you have put in
• Counter depression and dissipate stress
• You may have forgotten about your stress and irritations
• Learn how to concentrate and focus on your body’s movement
• May be able to focus on a single task
• The resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do. 

Walk Before You Run

The first steps of incorporating physical fitness into your life will undoubtedly be the hardest part. It may even feel like a chore. If you haven’t been physically active in a while, take it slow and build up your fitness level. Dip your toe before diving head first. This will reduce the risk of injury. Be sure to consult with your doctor before any strenuous activity or if you have unrelated health concerns.

As you begin to get in shape and make a habit out of fitness and wellbeing, you will slowly begin to enjoy it and depend on it. Think of the long run and the affects it will have on you. Great body shape, clean mind, self-confidence and excellent overall health. It is journey; a worthwhile one.

Stick With It

No matter what physical or mental outlet you have chosen, it is important to stick with it and not give up. Create a routine with it. Dedicate certain parts out of the day to doing your activity. You can call it e time, and everyone will (or should) understand.

You can make smart goals to make sure that you stay on track to your end goal. Be specific on what goals you want to achieve and make the necessary steps to make those goals reality. Do you want to be fit? Or do you want to relieve stress, recharge your batteries or get a better night’s sleep? Whatever your goals are keep going towards them one step at a time.

Summing It Up

As you can see, physical health is greatly related to mental health; the two are closely connected even though most of the time, we don’t see it that way. By simply incorporating fitness into our lives, we can greatly diminish the effects of stress and anxiety. What are you waiting for? What is going to be first on your list to living a happy and healthy lifestyle?


The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Self Verve is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Self Verve does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Causes of Stress

Causes of Stress

Stress is that feeling we get when we have to meet almost impossible deadlines at work. It’s the feeling we get when we have an overwhelming workload either at work...

3 Types of Stress

3 Types of Stress

Stress is a feeling we get when we are struggling with change or trying to cope with new challenges. These challenges can range from finances, work, relationships, family matters and...

Mental and Physical Health: Making the Connection

Mental and Physical Health: Making the Connection

Mental health and physical health are often viewed differently, when reality is, they are one in the same. Explore the ways that fitness and mental health intertwine together and ways...

Leave a comment