We all have slightly different motivations for working out but ultimately I think it comes down to wanting to show up everyday as our best selves!
For me, my best self is happy, creative, and goofy. And I cannot be these things when I am stressed and worn down.
I know it sounds a little counterintuitive, but it turns out that movement is the number one way to process stress and prevent burnout. If you aren’t a movement and exercise lover then hear me out. If you are, then you probably already intuitively know what I’m about to share.
In the book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA describe burnout as an accumulation of stress that has not had an opportunity to complete its cycle.
What’s the stress cycle?
Our bodies naturally respond to a threat or stressor by releasing hormones that prepare the body to fight, flight or freeze for survival. Evolutionarily this makes sense as most threats required a physical reaction to return to safety. Completing the stress cycle involved fighting or escaping the threat to return to safety and allow the calm nervous system to take back over. Essentially, survival itself indicated safety and completed the cycle.
The problem now is many of our stress triggers can not (or at least not appropriately) be fought off or run from, so our bodies get stuck in the stress cycle trying to survive a threat that can’t be physically beat. Over time this can wreak havoc on our bodies.
Nagoski describes it like this:
“When you’re being chased by a lion, what do you do? You run. When you’re stressed out by the bureaucracy and hassle of living in the twenty-first century, what do you do?
You run. Or swim. Or dance around your living room, singing along to Beyonce, or sweat it out in a Zumba class, or do literally anything that moves your body enough to get you breathing deeply.”
And you need to do this everyday – because most of us experience stress daily. We cannot effectively remove all stress from our lives (nor should we), so we must find ways to complete the cycle and movement is the best way to do this.
We recommend finding ways of moving that you enjoy, and build a habit of moving daily. This will help get you up and moving when you least feel like it and most need it.