How upping your recreational sport can help you relieve stress
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Annie Button is a freelance writer who has written for various online and print publications specialising in lifestyle, business, branding and career development.
Some level of stress is generally unavoidable in life. But with the pandemic, financial crises, and a less stable geopolitical situation, perhaps it is no surprise that some people are finding that their stress levels have been skyrocketing in recent years.
We live increasingly hectic and stressful lives. In fact, scientific studies have shown that middle age, for example, is far more stressful now than it was in the 1990s. Of course, too much stress can be a real problem, being detrimental to mental health, and creating feelings that can be very overwhelming.
Thankfully, it is possible to relieve stress in a number of ways. Perhaps one of the most important is recreational sports. Taking part in a sporting activity in your leisure time is not only a great way to help you stay in shape, it can be crucial for getting your mental health in the right place.
In this article, we will take a look at why if you are feeling stressed, you should consider upping your levels of recreational sport. We will try to understand how and why this works, and what you can practically do.
A broad range of options
When some people think about the idea of taking up recreational sports, their hearts sink. To them, recreational sports mean running around playing hockey or football, and this is simply something that they don't want to or don’t have the time to do. But in reality, there is a huge range of possibilities when it comes to recreational sports.
There are the relaxed and calming options such as yoga, to the more focussed and direct approach of kickboxing or martial arts, or the athletic competition of tennis or swimming. But most importantly, the key to taking part in a sport that will make you feel better in yourself should be something that is completely suited to you.
Exercise has tangential benefits
Recreational sport has a number of additional, tangential benefits that can benefit someone who is dealing with stress. We know that exercise is very good for us, and holds key benefits to our health. It assists with maintaining a healthy weight, and in turn allows far better prevention or management of health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
From a wellbeing standpoint there are further less visible but highly beneficial benefits to be gained:
An improved state of mind
A more positive self image
Increased energy levels
The activities that we take part in on a regular basis go a long way to help us define who we are as people, and how we function. Just taking on a new exercise, finding a new activity you enjoy, offers a natural stress buster by diverting you from your normal daily routine. You are able to control how challenging or relaxing that activity should be too.
Exercise can be at home
Of course, one challenge for many people who would love the stress relieving benefits of recreational sports is the real difficulty they face getting out of the house. There could be a number of reasons for this, including lack of time, mobility issues, or general social anxiety around getting involved with new activities.
There are a huge range of mood-lifting possibilities for you to deploy at home, and it can be well worth putting some money into the kind of thing you really like to do. In recent years, the purchase of home workout equipment has greatly increased. Tailoring a home ‘gym’ space need not be vast in size or an extravagant expense. The actual creation of one can be a satisfying and rewarding DIY project in itself..
Depending on the activities you want to pursue a spare bedroom or underutilised garage space can be easily adapted to provide you with a personal sporting haven. From a basic exercise bike or treadmill to having the facility to practice your golf swing on the quiet, the variety of equipment available for home use means you can really make your space work for you..
The social element
For some people, one of the key reasons to take up recreational sports is to boost their social life and have an impact on what they do with their free time. Indeed, sports can be a powerful tool for bonding. If you are looking for an activity that involves working together as a team and pursuing a shared goal, recreational sports can be ideal.
Enjoying a more active social life as a result of taking on more sport in your free time is something that can definitely be desirable and beneficial for many people. Sport is well known for its strong networking opportunities.
A solitary pursuit
However, it is also true that there are many types of recreational sports that are more suited to solitary involvement. You don’t have to crave teamwork and togetherness for sport to be able to have a positive impact on your mental health.
Many people enjoy pursuits such as running specifically because it provides them with privacy to be mindful and go over issues and problems in their heads. A lower impact sport such as Pilates offers many beneficial effects, also allows you to focus on balance, breathing and self awareness. This simple time to yourself can be important to adjust and re-level yourself.
Mental health is directly related to physical health
Ultimately, there is a lot of evidence that our physical health plays a hugely important role in our overall mental health. Being able to engage in activities that are positive for your physical health has the knock-on effect of reducing stress and improving your mood. Being able to define when, where and what you participate in to relieve the stress in day to day life offers a new sense of calm, control and stability.
Written by Annie Button
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