Too Tired To Exercise? Try These Stress Relievers First!
When people hear that I am About.com’s stress management expert, the most common response is, “Oh, wow, I need your help!” The second most common response is “What is the best way to manage stress?” which is an understandable question to ask. One question that I have heard from a few people, which I think is an equally important question that people don’t always think to ask, is, “If I’m already stressed and exhausted, how can I get to a place where I have the energy for some of those great stress management techniques that work so well?” Many people fall into bad habits when stressed because they are simply too stressed to take on a new activity.
Exercise is one of those powerful stress management techniques that falls victim to stress. Many people would like to benefit from the resilience and stress relief that they can gain from a good workout, or from a regular workout routine, but find themselves too tired and unmotivated for exercise when they need it the most. If this sounds like you, the following stress management techniques can help you to become more energized and less stressed so you can either find the motivation to exercise more easily, or at least find yourself less stressed and restored to the point that you can continue with your day more easily. See what works for you. (Also, see these exercises to try when you’re too exhausted for meditation.)
When You Feel Too Stressed For Exercise, Try…
Listening to energetic music: Music is a powerful tool for relaxation and stress management for many reasons. (You can read about the benefits of music here.) Music can be a wonderfully effective tool for relaxation, but it can also energize you. When you feel exhausted from a stressful day, simply putting on some music that makes you feel energized can give you an influx of energy. If, after a few minutes with your favorite energetic music on in the background, you don’t feel energized enough for even a quick workout, at least you should feel less stressed and more energized in general.
Taking a walk in nature: Walking doesn’t need to feel like “exercise.” Often, when a trip to the gym sounds like an intimidating task, a leisurely walk can feel like the right amount of effort. After a few minutes of walking, you may feel like quickening your pace and making it a brisk walk, which can bring aerobic benefits. If not, however, you have gotten yourself moving, you’ve given yourself a change of scenery, and if you’ve brought a partner, you’ve most likely enjoyed some friendly conversation. And with these activities, you should feel less stressed.
Watching a re-run and exercise during the breaks: It’s been shown that watching re-runs of your favorite shows when stressed can bring stress relief benefits that are unique. This is also an extremely low-effort activity. When you’re overwhelmed, you can easily relax this way instead of turning to less-healthy coping habits. By the first or second commercial break, you may be in the mood for a few simple exercises between breaks. If not, you’ll still feel less stressed.
Writing down your goals or your gratitude: The act of journaling is a highly effective stress relief activity that takes less energy than exercise, but also carries cumulative benefits and engages your attention. Writing your goals can energize you in that it shifts your focus from the stress of the day to the things about which you are passionate and excited. Gratitude journaling is effective for stress relief in that it forces you to shift your attention to the things that sustain you and make your life wonderful. (There are also unique benefits that come with gratitude journaling.) Once you energize yourself with a little journaling, you may be in the mood for a workout. If you never feel like exercise after journaling, however, you’ll still be developing a stress management habit that works well for building resilience.
What About Meditation?
Meditation is another of those powerful stress management tools that can help you relieve stress quickly and build resilience over time. If you feel too stressed for a meditation session, here are some techniques that can help you to get into a more relaxed state.