How to Workout When Stressed
Susan Hoff
February 23, 2021

Learn how to sweat out your stress by listening to your body.

Sometimes a hard workout after a long day can be just the medicine you need to detox your stress and rejuvenate your mind and body. Other times, an overworked body or a burned out brain may not benefit from a torturous, high intensity workout. You must learn to check in with yourself throughout the day and give your body the workout or rest that it needs. It will better serve you during and after your workout.

This post is for the tired A-types, who constantly have a to-do list running in your heads and an expectation of the day's work, home, and exercise routines. If these do not go as planned, you are prone to feeling less than, discouraged, and teetering on failure. Let's get one thing straight: You are not a failure. You are showing up and putting in the hard work. But sometimes, you have to veer away from your set schedule and learn to listen to your body—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physical Tiredness

When your body is tired after an overly long day on your feet, you feel the major effects of yesterday's workout, or you stayed up late last night with the baby, you may do more harm than good to your body with that planned HIIT workout. It is so important to listen to your body on days like this and care for your needs—not succumb to what society says you need to look like or do on a daily basis.

Your head might feel the pressure of fitting in your 1,000-calorie workout, especially since you had a bulkier lunch to prepare for the extra calories you planned to burn. But, you must check in with a deeper voice. What do you need more than anything else today? If you hear your body whisper back, "wine and chocolate," you might not have searched deep enough. You don't need to fall to stress eating or couch potato-ing, but you can find ways to help refresh your body and soul through modified movement.

Examples:

- Restorative Yoga

- Walk or Jog

- Swim

Mental Tiredness

On days where your mind needs a day off but your body is revving to go, keep it simple. Take the intricacies out of your workout. Take off your heart rate monitor and step counter and turn off your calorie counter today. Give your brain a break from where you think you need to be or what goal you think you have to hit. Instead, turn your attention to your instructor or turn your music up in order to escape from the mental grind.

Like I said, simple is key here. You need your brain for difficult or new exercises in order to prevent injury and perfect your form. So choose something that you know and do not need your whole brain for.

Examples:

- Class (virtual or in-person)

- Weight lifting (exercises you know, where your body can take over for your brain)

- Run (well-known path or treadmill)

Emotional Tiredness

Maybe you have had a tough day with the fam or a taxing phone call with a loved one. You feel drained all over—unsure if it is more mental or physical. Anxiety, depression, and overwhelm can cause both mental and physical tiredness and require intentional self-care to heal your body and set you up for a better day tomorrow. Ignoring these feelings can lead to further physical limitations, such as injury or bonking/hitting the wall early on in your workout.

These are the days to implement a feel-good workout. You may need to test yourself to gauge your physical ability for the day. Give your planned workout a try and see how you feel. Five minutes is enough to know if you are in it to win it or if you need to take it down a notch. Maybe this week requires an extra rest day. Take a deep breath—that is okay.

Examples:

- Turn your solo run into a walk with a friend.

- Pull your headphones on and engage in a favored playlist, podcast, or audiobook as you hit the gym. 

- You might need to switch from kickboxing to yoga. 

- You might even need to switch from yoga to a bath.

Oath & Grind By Susan Hoff
Run fast, spin hard, lift heavy, work out like crazy. Whatever you do, Oath & Grind is the destination for all things fitness, nutrition, and life.
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