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Doing Gentle Workouts Is Helping Me Manage My Stress

Real Talk: A Gentle Workout Is What My Body Really Needs Right Now

Shot of a beautiful young woman practicing yoga at home

My favorite workouts are those that leave me drenched in sweat, panting, chugging water, with wobbly legs, and proud that I pushed my body to the physical limit — and I have zero interest in participating in them right now.

This is ironic because I turn to long, challenging runs and intense at-home HIIT sessions when I want to clear my mind, boost my mood, or need a little extra help managing my anxiety — and right now, my mind is filled with fears and concerns.

Yet, I have no desire to work up a sweat. When it comes to the concept of exercise, I only want to lay on a yoga mat or move through a low-impact 20-minute Pilates stretch.

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All I want (and clearly need) right now is a gentler approach to exercise, and that's totally OK.

It was hard to come to that realization, though. After clicking through endless Instagram stories of people documenting their at-home workout accomplishments, I felt no motivation to take part in the pushup challenge or follow along to instructors' livestreams.

Finally, after questioning why I didn't feel up to HIIT exercises or heavy lifting, and then feeling sort of guilty about it all, I accepted where I was at and acknowledged what my body was getting out of this workout change of pace.

My knees are getting a break from the impact I regularly place upon them, and they're not aching in the middle of the night. My ankles, shoulders, and hips are all receiving a much-deserved stretch, and I can feel at least some of the physical tension melting away. I'm learning how to breathe full, deep, relaxing breaths.

I don't know what type of workout I'll feel up to tomorrow or even next week, but I find comfort in knowing if I listen to my body, it will tell me exactly what to do.

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