5 Feel Good Activities Without the Rigour of Exercise

While exercise is the best ‘feel good’ tonic, there are times you want the ‘feel good’ happy feeling all year round without the rigour of exercising. I think there are five practical ways you can experience the feel good, happy and carefree without the gruelling sweaty gym sessions.

Laugh More Often

When was the last time you laughed so much your ribs ache? Not recently?  Then it is time to start seeing the funny side of life. Laughter is one of the easiest, most pleasurable ways to stay happy.  Know why? Because a good laugh releases feel good endorphins, lessen stress hormones and blood pressure, and boost your immune system.  Laughter is the mood-enhancing workout you do for free.  This is how it works. Laughter acts as internal aerobics, boosts your circulation, tones your muscles and improves your breathing.  Research says laughing 100 times a day is equivalent to a 10-minute workout on a rowing machine.

Well, you say to me, ‘sorry but there is not much to laugh about’, and I tell you ‘fake it’. ‘How do I do that?  People around me will think I have gone mad’. Look at this way, you do not have to be happy to laugh, but laughing on the other hand makes you happy.  Still cannot get my point? O.K., to make it easier, cast your mind back on some hilarious moments of your life, or go get a comedy CD, watch a funny film or share a joke with a friend, and laugh out loud.  And I mean deep laugh. Alternative is to ensure you smile everyday because smiling is a good thing – at least better than frowning, which puts more wrinkles on your face.  So go on stimulate laughter.  Your body will benefit from it.

Write Love Poems

You know how much fun you had writing love poems to that cute boy or girl you had a crush on in school?  O.K., so you may not be able to win the Nobel Laureate for Literature, but putting down your thoughts on paper gives you a sense of freedom and self-expression, even if it did not turn you into another Wole Soyinka or Maya Angelou.

When you are struggling with work stress or a hectic schedule, pick up a pen, a few plain sheets, lock yourself into another world of bliss and harmony, and scribble your stress away.  Writing poetry is a great way of making your feelings known as well as developing a skill you never knew you had.  You can also take yourself off to a remote poetry retreat and explore your innermost thoughts under the guidance of a qualified poetry tutor.  And, if you find it hard to express your feelings verbally, putting representation of your feelings down on paper helps.  You feel good when you read what you have put down. It helps deal with emotional issues, while boosting your self-confidence.

What to Do: Decide what you would like to write about – your experience, love, nature, people, and issues. Do not feel daunted by the prospect of not finding the right words at the right time.  The trick is just to pour out your feelings and rearrange later. It really does not matter if you are not good to start with.  It is the action of actually doing it that counts and, like most things in life, getting proficient takes practice. I tried this therapy and ended up with about 30 poems which I published. I felt really good doing that.

Listen to Music

Music can make us happy or sad.  Remember how fast paced music improves your performance at the gym or during aerobics?  Also remember how sluggish you become once the music is off?  That is the power of music on our energy levels.  The musical effect on our moods can have powerful healing benefits too.   The power of music to improve health and well-being cannot be underestimated.

It is not just listening to music that counts; making music has also been shown to improve our emotional and physical state of mind; whether it is playing a musical instrument, joining a choir or just singing while doing house chores.   And there is further proof that music makes your brain active and even starves off the effects of ageing. In addition music reduces anxiety and depression.

What to Do:  Decide to start playing an instrument – a guitar, piano, trumpet, sax, or drums.  It is never too late to start. Pick up something you like the sound of, or one you think looks cool - You know how excited you feel when you see your favourite musician blowing a trumpet, or playing a guitar with dexterity, or  doing wonders on a set of drums. 

Try varying the music you listen to.  If you have never listened to classical music, tune to your favourite music channel and just pick and choose.  Give it a try, as it can be soothing and relaxing.  Sing! nothing beats singing. Never mind if you do not sound like Adele, Whitney, Mariah or our very own Tiwa. And if you are really keen, take singing lessons.  It is a great way to express who you are.

Explore the Wonders of Gardening

You know how good you feel when you walk around public gardens or just sit in one and take in the sweet fresh air. Research has shown flowers to be one of nature’s best ways to trigger happy emotions and boost your emotional health. Taking in the colours, sounds and smells and taking time to appreciate the peace and tranquillity helps cool strained nerves.

But chances are that you have never thought of gardening as a feel good workout.   Tell you what; gardening can boost your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Gardening therapy increases self-esteem and builds confidence. Tending a garden is the perfect way to soften the stress from your busy lives. It is also good for the spirit and surprisingly good exercise too.  It has great calorie burning effect.  You can burn up to 300 calories for half an hour’s vigorous digging – the same energy used running 30 minutes at around 6 miles an hour. Digging will work your shoulders and back, creating tone and definition, and if you squat while weeding, you work your gluteus and top of your thighs. In addition, clipping your bushes burn up to 400 calories an hour. So next time, you call in the gardener to tender your lawns, ask him to teach you the rudiments of gardening. Do not see as a chore – think of it as a free gym session.

What to Do: If you do not have a garden, find the nearest park and make a habit of visiting it at least once a week to read, walk or look at budding roses.  Get good plants from your local gardener to brighten up a window.  Buy fresh herbs from your local market and split and re-pot them in three to four separate pots at home.   Keep green plants in your house and by your desk at work to help you stay in touch with nature all day.  Ask your gardener for the plants that help clean the air and easy to look after. 

Dance Your Stress Away

Many of us love to show off our swinging steps on the dance floor, but did you know there is more to dancing than just doing a couple of twist, or trying to seduce that handsome man in the corner with your deliberate sensual moves? Remember how drained out you used to feel in the morning after an all-night dancing.  You feel exhausted alright, but also feel good. Dancing is great for the legs, waist, arms, thighs and bum. And the fantastic news? You do not have to go to a dance class to reap the benefits.  A good 10 minutes shake-down to your favourite tune in your sitting room will quicken your heart rate.

Dancing not only burns off a lot of calories (just 20 minutes of disco dancing burns 114 calories, while fast traditional dancing burns around 125 calories or more depending on the rigour put in), it also has important benefits for wellbeing: dancing tones up the mind as well as the body and is a powerful way to relieve stress.   Dancing is a good way of dealing with feelings and releasing tension instead of bottling it up and going to the doctor with depression or anxiety.

What to Do: If you have not got into the groove for a long time, try one of the aerobics sessions in your gym to help you get into the swing of things. Let yourself go. Put on your favourite tracks and go wild.  Close your eyes and make any movements that feel natural, listening to the beat of the music.  Practice funky steps.  If you have ever wanted to do the belly dancing (very sensual moves great for the belly and hips), now is the time, ha ha!.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


Popular Posts