Using exercise as a way to cope with stress
Across Canada, universities have found that anxiety, depression and stress levels have been continually rising on their campuses. In a study conducted in 2013, it was found that 89 per cent of students were feeling overwhelmed by all that they had to do, while 56 per cent were feeling overwhelming anxiety, according to the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services. The effects of stress appear to be prevalent across campus: What can you do to deal with the effect that stress has on you?
Stress doesn’t have to be an integral part of life. Unhealthy coping strategies like smoking, bingeing on junk food, procrastinating, oversleeping and taking stress out on others should be avoided. Instead, these strategies should be replaced with things that make you feel calm, relaxed and in control. One such method is exercising.
When you feel stressed, it is often difficult to get motivated to get moving. However, it is one of the best things you can do. Exercise can serve as a good distraction from stress and it releases endorphins that make you feel good. Erin Steeves from the women’s varsity basketball team said, “Getting in the gym for practice every day provides me with routine, it lets me clear my head and I feel better afterwards.”
However, you don’t need to be a varsity athlete to get daily exercise. “When it has been a stressful day, going for a run through Waterfowl Park always helps me to relax,” said Maggie MacNeil.
The Fitness Centre on campus offers a variety of group classes that anyone can attend, including yoga, athletic cardio and Zumba. MacNeil agreed with Steeves when she said that, in her experience, “doing exercise every day helps maintain stress levels.” Whatever your exercise of choice is, try to fit it into your daily routine.
If you ever feel like the stress you are experiencing is too much, ask for help. The Wellness Centre, located on the bottom floor of the Wallace McCain Student Centre, is a great place to start. It offers access to a massage therapist, dietitian, registered acupuncturist, counsellors, mental health educator and more to support your physical and mental health.
Take breaks from work, take time for relaxing and, most importantly, take care of yourself.