Strong emotions can be tricky to manage at the best of times, and the negative ones even more so. Coping strategies differ greatly from person to person. The best coping strategies are ones that provide benefit in other areas of life as well, such as exercise. Exercise does double duty, providing physical health benefits in addition to making it easier to control and manage negative emotions such as anger and sadness.
There’s a great deal of attention directed at helping people be happy and avoid anger. It’s important to remember that achieving constant happiness means that “happy” just becomes “normal” over time, but cutting down on feelings of rage can bring benefits to your life. You can get a handle on your anger with exercise. In fact, you can take pleasure in the sense of control that regular exercise can give you. For some of us, anger is the easy go-to emotion. We may be trauma survivors or have simply spent our early lives being ignored until we erupted in fury. That may have gotten us attention, though not the best kind.
Anger in adulthood also gets us attention, but again, not the best kind. Living with anger may affect how you function in daily life. You might notice you show symptoms of road rage, have a habit of lashing out at people, or experience outbursts of anger. Eventually, living in a state of constant anger becomes corrosive. Regular exercise can help to avoid the frustration and isolation that can come with too much anger.
Exercise helps you rewire your brain. When you get going on a workout, endorphins are released that can reduce your sensitivity to anxiety. While there are still worrisome things going on in the world, they will have less of an impact on your body and brain. Exercise can also help reduce cynicism. If you’re concerned about the “gotcha” culture found in our hyper-connected world, it’s exciting to think that a good workout can actually make you more hopeful about our world and thus more open to positive representations in the media and in person.
Exercise also often forces you to socialize whether you feel like it or not. Walking through your neighborhood may bring you face to face with people working in their yards or out with their dogs. Taking a yoga class gives you the chance to connect with your teacher and with other students.
If you ever find yourself “stuck in a rut” you will understand how critically important it is to engage in habits that increase brain plasticity. Reading, writing, or taking a class to learn new things can provide the mental stimulus necessary to build your brain. Exercise can also help to foster brain plasticity. If you’re struggling to get along with someone or to see their viewpoint, maybe the two of you need to go for a walk together.
This simple act can elevate your mood, increase your ability to see things from a different perspective and may even help the two of you create a list of things you can agree on. As we age, increasing our exercise regime is especially important. Regular exercise can act on the hippocampus and support your ability to build and retain memories.
An exercise habit is a great way to help control your emotions and protect your brain as you age. This habit will be easier to build if you keep things simple. Exercising early is often the best way to make sure you get your workouts in, so set yourself up the night before with workout clothes and shoes so you can work out before facing your day.
Look here for great fitness equipment you can use to supplement your exercise routine.