Walking Out Stress

If my jaw hurts when I wake up in the morning, then I know I’m stressed. I know it because when I’m suffering from stress I grind my teeth all night long and wake up with a huge jaw ache. Everybody shows different signs, of course, but in the end we all have our subconscious acting like this:

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This behaviour is bad for many reasons. As a person with Lupus (or any kind of auto-immune disease), it can kill me – literally. But even if you don’t have a chronic illness, stress can hurt you in many ways. For example, if not handled, stress can give you headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety (among other things).

The most dangerous thing about stress is that it can sometimes go unnoticed, which is why I add activities to my daily life that can reduce stress. In this blog I will write about a couple of them and today I will talk about one I found really helpful: walking.

I know, it sounds so simple, but I’m not talking about the walking we do when we run errands or when we are treading from one place to another. I’m talking about the kind of walking that involves not going anywhere and requires turning all electronics off (except music. Music is definitely allowed.

My method: Now that I have a lot of free time I go walking every day for 1h and 30mins. I put my phone on airplane mode and have a special playlist for walking. In my case, I tend to pick cheerful and uplifting songs or very relaxing ‘chill’ songs if it’s the end of the day.

Best times to walk: So far, I have found three best times:

  1. First thing in the morning (with cheerful, uplifting and energising music) to motivate myself before the day starts.
  2. Mid-day when arriving from work (with ‘chill’ music) to disconnect from the office and get out of ‘work mode.’
  3. After dinner (with relaxing music) to completely disconnect and relax before I go to bed.

Obviously, point number 2 doesn’t apply to me anymore, but I still recommend it because it’s the next best thing after walking first thing in the morning when you actually have a job.

Pro tip: In order to avoid being sore the next day and prevent any potential injuries I always make sure to stretch my muscles when I arrive home. I, personally, like to do 5 mins of Yoga poses (which I will write about in another post), but there are many other stretches that will do.

Biggest challenge: The most difficult part of this exercise, is not actually the exercise, but dedicating time to it and making it a habit. At the moment, with the cold outside, it’s being hard to put on clothes, leave the house and go walking, but now that I do it every day it has become easier.

The most important thing to overcome this challenge is to not give up. If you don’t feel like walking or you don’t have much energy, then go out for a 10 or 15 min. walk, but don’t skip. If you skip, then it will be harder to do the next day. Another helpful tip is to do it every day or every ‘x’ day at the exact same time – no excuses. That makes it easier to make a habit out of it.

 

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