Get moving and you’ll feel a whole lot better to cope with life’s stresses, says Elisabeth Wilson
Do you feel tired a great deal of the time? Do you crave a couple of cups of coffee to start functioning? Is the only time you feel energised when you’re responding to yet another crisis and feel worried, nervy and tense?
Imagine an end to swinging between jitteriness and lethargy. Imagine instead how it would feel to have a constant flow of energy so you could achieve everything you need to achieve easily and calmly. Imagine getting home at night and having the energy to have a life!
You’ve guessed the answer already, I’m sure – you need to move your body. Why? Because it supplies your cells with oxygen (the energy-inducing bit of the equation) and it burns off adrenaline (the stress-reducing bit). It’s a lot better for you than our usual methods: constant snacks on sugary food, booze, fags, coffee and nights down the pub. Besides being the “most effective anti-ageing pill” (according to the USA’s National Institute of Health), exercise will also boost your concentration, improve memory and make you more creative.
And we’re not talking marathon running. My tips are:
Every day: let your body out to play.
Movement, for your body, is a lovely treat. Every day give it a little of what it needs to be happy. It doesn’t matter if all you can manage is walking up the stairs. Tomorrow, aim to walk up the stairs twice. Do a few stretches while you’re watching TV. Race the kids to the end of the road. Start small and build up the expectation that you’ll move in some way every day – just as you would brush your teeth.
Every second day: feel your heart beating.
Exercise that doesn’t set your heart beating fast is still good for you, but to start the energy-boosting process, you want to feel your heart thump, which means your lungs are expanding and the oxygen is flowing to your cells. If you’re not used to exercise, walking briskly for just five minutes should do it.
Keep going for six weeks.
Then you’ll have the beginning of a habit. But I urge you not to try anything dramatic. If you want to run a marathon, you will have to move it up a gear – but if you simply want more energy and less stress, you can achieve that pretty quickly by doing this.
Elisabeth Wilson is a counsellor, psychotherapist and the author of Stress-proof Your Life (Infinite Ideas, £12.99)