Make Time for Exercise to Experience a Truly Zen Holiday Season

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Zen ChristmasTis' the season for Holiday shopping, preparing for family gatherings, eggnog and basically anything else that can either cause stress or wreak havoc on your body. It can be the happiest but also the most nerve-racking time of the year. You may want to consider adding exercise to your daily routine to not only promote health but to tackle all of those little Holiday stressors.

According to stress.about.com exercise is an excellent stress reduction tool for several reasons:

1. Give Yourself a Natural Boost- Exercise releases endorphins and other “happy hormones” in your body, promoting a feeling of wellbeing. It can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins giving your body a natural boost. (The same chemistry behind a runner's high.

2. Social Support- Some forms of exercise allow you to be social, which can also be great for stress reduction. Whether you're in a class with others, working out with a buddy, playing softball with friends or taking a walk with a friend, working out with others can make you feel good and motivate you to push harder.

3. Looking Good- Exercise can raise feelings of self-esteem and bring other benefits that improve quality of life. It ultimately helps you to lose weight, tone your body and maintain a healthy glow and smile. Whether the effects are subtle or significant this impact can increase confidence and relieve stress.

4. An Outlet for Frustrations- Exercise helps to release built-up tension in the body. When life's annoyances build up, a high energy form of exercise like boxing, martial arts or weight training can provide a release of negative emotions.

5. Distraction- Physical activity can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity that you're doing or put you into a Zen-like state. Exercise also usually involves a change of scenery. Whether it takes you to a gym, a park, a biking trail or your neighborhood sidewalk, a change of scenery can ultimately change your point of view.

6. Resilience to Stress- Research suggests that physical activity may be linked to lower physiological reactivity toward stress. Those who get more exercise may become less affected by the stresses that they face.

With all of these benefits, it's clear that if you can exercise you should. Below are a few exercises that help specifically with stress relief.

Yoga- Yoga is good for physical health and flexibility. It can also help get you into a meditative state.

Swimming- Swimming combines the soothing properties of water and the benefits of exercise. It's a great way to get in shape, cool off and feel great. It's also a wonderful form of exercise of older or injury-prone adults.

Walking- Walking is an exercise that just about anybody can do; it's also very easy and can conform to any schedule. You can take a walk during lunch, put your kids in the stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood, etc.

So amongst all of the Holiday hustle and bustle if you feel your anxiety level beginning to rise why not take 45 minutes out of your day to get your heart rate up and a little bit of exercise? Aside from stress relief, exercise has so many benefits and could ultimately help make your Holidays a little brighter.