When I'm really stressed, I always try to find ways to relax before working out. Too much stress can actually hurt your workout. I try to spend about five minutes relaxing and releasing tension before I start exercising. There are numerous ways to relax before working out. Try out different ways to see which works best for you.
1. Deep Breathing
One of the best ways to relax before working out is to try some deep breathing exercises. These work by forcing you to focus solely on your breathing. After a few minutes, you'll start to notice your body relaxing. The more used to the exercises you become, the easier it will be for you to relax each time. It used to take me around 10 minutes. Now, I feel better within three.
2. Watch Funny Videos
Laughter is a great way to relax. Grab your smartphone and look up some funny videos on YouTube. After laughing for 10-15 minutes, you'll feel less stressed and ready to work out. If there isn't any Wi-Fi available, you might want to download some of your favorite videos before heading to the gym. When I work out at home, I watch a sitcom beforehand. That always helps me relax.
3. Chew Gum
I know it sounds too simple, but chewing gum is actually really helpful. You get to chew your stress away. I like to spend about five minutes chewing gum and blowing bubbles when I'm feeling stressed. Plus, I can keep chewing while I'm working out to help keep stress out of the way. Think of it as a sort of breathing exercise. The repetitive activity does help distract your mind.
4. Take a Chocolate Break
The key to this relaxation technique is to only eat a little chocolate. To avoid killing your workout, eat about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is ideal for reducing stress levels by regulating cortisol (your stress hormone). Find a quiet place and indulge yourself for a few minutes. I've found mixing this with the deep breathing works perfectly.
5. Count Backwards
The best way to destress is to get your mind off the stress. A time proven technique is to count backwards. Depending on how stressed you are, you might need to start higher than the usual 10. I like to mix it up sometimes by saying the alphabet backwards or by counting to 10 and then counting backwards. If you can find a private place, counting out loud works best.
6. Grab a Stress Ball
Sometimes all you really want to do is squeeze or hit something so hard it breaks. Luckily, that's exactly what a stress ball is for (minus the breaking part). Invest in a high quality stress ball and squeeze it in a pulsing motion for several minutes. You'll be surprised at how much stress it does relieve. I also recommend trying a hand exerciser if you're extremely tense.
7. Be by Yourself
I've found when I'm stressed, I don't really want people around. If you're the same way, try finding a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes. I put on my headphones to drown out any outside noise. It's incredibly relaxing to just sit by myself for a few minutes. I can forget about everything else and let the tension fade away.
8. Listen to Music
Music is great for helping your relax. Put together a relaxing or even energizing playlist and listen to it before working out. If you go to a gym, listen to the playlist on your way. You can even continue to listen to relaxing music throughout your workout to keep your stress at bay. Experiment with different songs to find the right ones to relieve your stress no matter what's going on.
Walking is not only a great workout warm-up, but it's effective for helping you destress. Consider using a gym with a walking course or visit a local park for a stroll. The simple movement without any real purpose helps your mind and body relax. If you don't have room to really walk, try walking in place for five minutes instead. It's not as effective, but when mixed with music or laughter, it works just as well.
If you take the time to relax before your workout, you'll have a safer, more effective session. Plus, any remaining stress will easily melt away as you exercise. Try a mixture of these techniques and watch your stress disappear. What are some of your favorite pre-workout relaxation techniques?