This time of year with the holidays and the COVID rates rising, there is plenty of stressors to go around. What happens to your motivation to exercise when your stress level goes up?
Based on what neuroscientists tell us about the brain, it probably depends on how your body feels when you do exercise. Your brain is hardwired to repeat what makes you feel better and avoid what makes you feel worse. If you have extra stressors going through your mind, and exercise only adds to it, chances are your brain will throw all kinds of excuses your way to get you to not exercise right now.
If exercise means feeling better, chances are your brain says, “lets find a way to fit it in!”. Your brain wants you to feel better. It does not want you to be in a stressed state.
This is why we crave comfort foods when stressed. Your brain learned which foods make you feel better and wants you to eat them when you are feeling down or anxious. The foods we crave are specifically engineered to do this, so we have to outsmart the food industry.
The way to do that is to use exercise to keep your brain flooded with all those great chemicals by moving in a way that feels good for your body. Choose a type, a level, a location to exercise that makes you feel good. Add your favorite music and you have yourself some ‘comfort exercise’ to help you calm those cravings and feel better.
When stress gets in the way it is a sure sign exercise is a source of stress not a way to solve it. Make some adjustments and you can turn it into a great resource for managing stress and staying well.
Happy, healthy, calm holidays!
Keep Moving, Be Well