Ask yourself this: when was the last time that you had a good night’s sleep? And by good night’s sleep, I mean you awoke feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to start your day?
Been a while? You aren’t alone. Sadly, many people are living the bulk of their lives in a sleep deprived state, which means we simply aren’t enjoying our days as much as we could be.
On top of that, we’re also dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. This can lead to:
- Feelings of burnout
- Low self esteem
- Lagging energy levels
- Difficulty sleeping at night (only worsening the above problem!)
- High cortisol levels
- Increased risk of body fat gain
- Increased risk of eating for emotional reasons
- Weakened immune system
- Decreased physical performance
- Missed workouts entirely
- Slow recovery from illness or injury
…and on and on it goes. Stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety wreak havoc on your health! Fortunately, it’s very much in your power to do something about this. By getting the right mix of exercises in order, you can help yourself fall asleep faster all while stopping stress and anxiety in their tracks.
Obviously you do need to do your own due diligence and make sure that you are getting to bed at a decent time as well. If you are only allowing yourself six hours of sleep time in bed, nothing is going to help you feel refreshed in the morning.
Here are some great exercises to consider.
High Intensity Hill Sprints
As far as physical exercise goes, very intense sprint training is a great way to combat stress. When one exercises with enough intensity, positive feel good endorphins are going to be released, which help calm the mind, ease stress, and put you into a more relaxed state.
Hill sprints done as fast as you can run are about as intense as it can get, so are a perfect choice for this purpose.
This will also provide a terrific workout as well, so can easily help you reach your fat loss and fitness goals.
If you are going to do this to assist with better sleep, make sure to do it at least 4 hours prior to going to bed. Otherwise, you may find yourself too energized to fall asleep properly.
Deep Breathing In A Crossed Legged Pose
On the flip side of things, sometimes what you need is very low intensity movement. You have two ways of going about combating stress: working that stress out through intense exercise or calming the mind through very low intensity exercise. In this case, deep breathing is what we’re talking about.
Simply sitting in an upright and cross legged position while taking deep breaths in and out can go a long way towards helping you relax the mind and let whatever is stressing you out or causing anxiety to leave your system.
Try doing this for ten minutes or so before bed and watch the amazing difference it has on assisting you with falling asleep.
Heavy Compound Exercises
Back to the intense exercise front, strength training is also a great way to release pent up stress and help you fall asleep faster. Many people turn to strength workouts to help relieve stress because there’s something to be said for taking the feelings you are experiencing and transferring them to the bar. By lifting heavier weights, you can take the aggression, frustration, or anger and release it from the body.
The end result is your performance not only goes up, but your stress and anxiety dissipates as well.
Good exercises to do here include squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder presses, barbell rows, and chest presses. Doing these two to three times per week can go a long way towards relieving anxiety over the long term.
Writing In A Stress Journal
Finally, while not a physical exercise per say, but a psychological one, writing in a stress journal is an excellent way to get yourself into a calmer and more relaxed state. Getting your thoughts out on paper tends to be a very cathartic experience and can help free those worries from your mind.
Many people who lay awake at night tossing and turning due to anxiety or stress can receive great benefit by doing this. While you may feel like there isn’t much difference in writing down your thoughts and feelings versus just thinking them through, you might be surprised to find out that this isn’t the case. Writing them down is an extra step, but a worthwhile one.
So there you have a few of the best exercises to perform to help improve your sleep quality, reduce stress, and combat anxiety. How many of these are you doing regularly?
Shannon Clark is your go-to-girl. She holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, and has helped others of all ages lose weight, build muscle, and improve their physical performance.