The importance of exercise in stress management

exercise in stress management

The importance of exercise in stress management

The importance of exercise in stress management 1920 1278 Paterakis Michalis
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Almost 60% of Greeks experience stress on a daily basis and you are probably one of them. Physical exercise can help manage stress. Remember that self-care, including regular physical activity, is vital. It’s not just a way to maintain your health.

When you exercise, your body’s natural mood enhancers – endorphins – are activated, helping you feel calmer and more focused.

What anxiety means from a psychoanalytical point of view

From a psychoanalytic point of view, anxiety is a multifaceted psychological phenomenon closely related to unconscious conflicts and the interaction between the different components of the mind. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, identified anxiety as a signal of unresolved conflicts between the  id , the ego  and the  superego.


That is the most primitive and instinctual part of the psyche, representing innate biological drives and desires. It operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification and pleasure without concern for consequences. It is impulsive, irrational and unconscious, driving basic instincts such as hunger, thirst and sexual desires.


The ego is reality-oriented that develops in response to the demands of the external world. It operates on the principle of reality, aiming to satisfy the ego’s desires in a socially acceptable and realistic way. The ego acts as a mediator between the impulsive id and the moralistic superego, balancing immediate needs with the constraints of reality.


The superego represents internalized moral standards, social norms, and the individual’s sense of right and wrong. It develops through the internalization of parental and social values during the process of socialization. The superego acts as a moral guide, imposing moral standards and imposing feelings of guilt or shame when the individual deviates from these standards.

According to psychoanalytic theory, anxiety serves as a defense mechanism that the ego uses to manage the tension between the conflicting demands of id and the superego. The mind’s attempts to deal with these conflicts can lead to heightened states of anxiety. Unresolved issues from early psychosexual development, such as the oedipal complex, are also thought to influence the formation of anxiety patterns later in life.

By gaining insight into the underlying causes of anxiety, individuals can work towards resolving underlying conflicts and developing more adaptive coping mechanisms.

In summary, from a psychoanalytic perspective, anxiety is viewed as a complex reaction to internal conflicts and as a signal of unresolved psychological tensions. Understanding and addressing these underlying conflicts form the basis of psychoanalytic interventions aimed at alleviating anxiety and promoting psychological well-being.

Understanding stress

Before you can deal with it effectively, you need to recognise that every person experiences some level of stress, whether it is a minor annoyance or a major challenge. Understanding the differences between acute anxiety – a short-term reaction to immediate threats – and chronic anxiety – a prolonged and persistent sense of stress – can be crucial to coping.

Acute anxiety can trigger the “fight or flight” response that equips you to deal with immediate problems. However, when the stressors do not subside, the ongoing response can lead to chronic anxiety, which can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms.

These symptoms can be both physical and psychological, ranging from headaches and fatigue to feelings of overwhelm and irritability.

It is important to note that while acute anxiety can be motivating, motivating action and concentration, chronic anxiety can deteriorate the health of the body, leading to serious problems if left untreated.

Exercise relieves stress

During your workout, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and reduce stress. These play a key role in helping you manage stress effectively. Engaging in regular exercise provides a powerful buffer against daily stress.

The benefits of exercise are multifaceted: it reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, while promoting the production of endorphins. These changes contribute to a sense of calm and well-being. By making time for regular exercise, you not only improve your physical health, but also fortify your mental resilience.

Exercise reduces the impact of stress in your life, improving your self-image and confidence, giving you a sense of mastery and control.

Physical activity and sleep

Through regular physical activity, you will notice that your sleep quality improves as your stress levels begin to decrease. This isn’t just a happy coincidence; it’s your body’s natural response to taking care of itself. Exercise doesn’t just strengthen your muscles; it fortifies your mind against stress and anxiety.

As you continue to exercise, whether it’s a brisk walk or a relaxing yoga session, you’ll find that your thoughts become clearer.

Remember to breathe deeply as you exercise. This practice signals to your body that it’s time to relax and rejuvenate, paving the way for a restful sleep that will leave you refreshed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

Types of stress reduction exercises

Before you start your day, consider doing stress reduction exercises to help manage stress levels effectively. Any type of exercise helps reduce stress and boosts your fitness, which in turn can be a powerful tool for preventing cardiovascular disease.

Swimming, is a full body workout that keeps the heart rate high while removing some of the stress from the body. It is particularly beneficial for those with joint problems or those who find land-based exercises difficult.

Cycling, either outdoors or on a stationary bike, is an excellent cardiovascular workout that can reduce stress levels. It’s not just about fitness; it’s about the freedom and pleasure you experience, which is vital to your mental wellbeing.

Don’t overlook the simplicity of a brisk walk or jog, which can clear your mind and release endorphins.

Exercise frequency for stress relief

You may be wondering how often you should exercise for stress relief, the answer depends on your personal schedule and fitness level, but incorporating regular sessions can greatly improve your stress management. Regular aerobic activity brings about profound changes not only to your physical health, but also to your mental state. It is a powerful stress reliever that can alleviate your mood and spirit.

Consistency is key. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise improves your body’s response to stress and recovery. By making physical activity part of your life routine, you fortify your resilience to stress.

Long-term benefits of exercise

Your body’s long-term adaptation to regular exercise includes a lasting reduction in stress levels and an improved ability to cope with life’s challenges.

The health benefits of regular exercise are profound – in addition to immediate stress relief, you strengthen your immune system, boost cardiovascular reactivity and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

By incorporating exercise into your routine, you are laying the foundation for a healthier and more balanced life. The endorphins released during physical activity are not just a temporary relief; they are building blocks for a more resilient self.

Embrace exercise as a trusted ally in your journey to serve others and watch your ability to manage stress and overcome life’s difficulties grow stronger with every step you take.

The importance of psychotherapy in managing stress

Psychotherapy, or counselling, can be beneficial in managing stress . Stress has a significant impact on both mental and physical well-being and psychotherapy addresses the underlying psychological factors that contribute to it.

Psychotherapy provides a safe space for individuals to explore and understand the sources of their anxiety. Identifying specific stressors is crucial to developing effective coping strategies.

Therapists can help individuals challenge and reframe negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety. This cognitive restructuring can lead to more adaptive and healthy ways of thinking, reducing overall anxiety levels.

Learning how to manage emotions is a key component of many psychotherapeutic approaches. Developing emotional regulation skills helps individuals cope with stress in a more constructive way, preventing negative effects on physical health.

Psychotherapy often involves teaching practical strategies for managing stress, such as time management, problem solving and relaxation techniques.

Therapists often work with clients to develop individualized self-care routines. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being can counteract the negative effects of stress on physical health.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of psychotherapy may vary depending on individual factors, the specific type of therapy used and the nature of the stressors involved.

Contacting the psychologist psychotherapist

A psychotherapist acts as an ally, providing a safe and non-judgmental space to explore the complexities of your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Whether you are facing specific challenges, in life transitions or simply seeking personal growth, a psychotherapist can offer valuable insights, coping strategies and support tailored to your unique needs.

Investing in your mental well-being is an act of self-care that reflects positively on all aspects of your life. Take the first step today – reach out to a psychotherapist and begin a journey of self-awareness, resilience and empowerment.

Your mental health matters and with the guidance of a qualified professional, you can face challenges, build resilience and create a more meaningful and balanced life. Working with a qualified mental health professional can help tailor the approach to individual needs and circumstances.

In conclusion

Ultimately you have learned how important exercise is for eliminating stress.

Let endorphins lift your mood, enjoy better sleep and choose activities you love for a stress-free life. Aim for regular workouts and remember, even small steps count.


*Republication of the article without the written permission of the author is prohibited.

The process of psychotherapy requires commitment, dedication and is only for those who are serious about changing their lives. If you are considering embarking on this journey, call me at 211 71 51 801 to make an appointment and let’s see together how I can help you.

Michael Paterakis

Psychologist Psychotherapist

37 Karneadou Street, Kolonaki

I accept By appointment

Tel: 211 7151 801

    Πατεράκης Μιχάλης
    Ψυχολόγος Αθήνα


      Psychologist Athens