Coach Bryce running, looking calm because he followed this list of 7 things.

Simple Ways To Use Exercise When You Feel Overwhelmed
Written by Bryce Smith

Next time you are in a funk, feeling overwhelmed with life, or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, try these exercise-related tools for managing and overcoming those thoughts and feelings. 

1. Put on your favorite playlist and let it lift your mood.

Listening to music increases blood flow to brain regions that generate and control emotions (2). The limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions and controlling memory, “lights” up when our ears perceive music.

Music can generate momentum. It can help trigger memory and motivation. Lean into the artistic magic that music provides and allow it to serve you in pursuit of creating action to move, get outside, or exercise, which provide their own benefits.

2. Move your body. Go for a walk or hit a workout.

Being in the same place for too long allows for our thoughts to spiral. Our world is so full of energy and changing the environment can help shift the energy and vary the stimulus to our senses. This can spark new thoughts and new brain activity. Movement really is medicine! Integrating activities like going for a walk, noticing where you are holding on to tension, and using the breath and the mindset to let go of things no longer serving you can be a great way to decrease overwhelming feelings. “The mental benefits of exercise have a neurochemical basis.  Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over (1).”

3. Use your breath!

We all experience overwhelming feelings. It is normal to be impacted by stress but to use the many tools listed in this article to better manage our physiology. Life can find ways to up regulate and down regulate our systems and our lenses on the world determine how much we value or do not value certain stressors. Something interesting that I thought about recently is that we can go weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without air. Our breath can be one of the most valuable tools for managing stress and serving as a control valve for stress management. Strive to nasal breathe as much as possible in your day to day lives. Obviously with high intensity exercise, mouth breathing may be required, but enhanced nasal breathing during activities of daily living, working, sleeping, and low intensity exercise can be a game changer for your health and physiology management. 

Check out the XPT+ app for breathing protocols to help with breathwork guidance. You can also check out the book titled “The Oxygen Advantage” which can be a great tool to better understand how our breath impacts our world. Breathing through the nose can create awareness of the breath and assist with slowing down breathing patterns so its not so rapid and anxious. This type of breathing activates the vagus nerve which regulates our nervous system and helps us control our fight or flight response to down regulate into a rest and digest state (7). Better management of our physiology can help with better decision making, enhanced mood, and a higher quality of life. 

Stress will come and go and challenges will always be present, but having access to the right tools can provide a great service to create actionables rather than marinating in stressful situations. So many of us get stressed about being stressed and then feel overwhelmed. These 3 tips will help you when you need it most. 

Leave comments below as to how these things have helped you and also please share any additional thoughts you may have that can help others. Send me a message on Instagram (@therealbrycesmith) and share your journey with overcoming challenges and the strategies used to reach a better state. 



  1. Amanda Ruiz MS, LPC. “6 Ways to Cope When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed.” The Counseling Collective, The Counseling Collective, 22 May 2023, 
  2. “Exercising to Relax – Harvard Health Publishing.” Harvard Health, 7 July 2020,,natural%20painkillers%20and%20mood%20elevators. 
  3. Identity vs. Process: Reinterpreting Failure | Mark England | Tedxrva, Accessed 3 Nov. 2023. 
  4. Jäncke, Lutz. “Music, Memory and Emotion.” Journal of Biology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Aug. 2008, 
  5. Park, Alice. “The Sun and Your Mood: Why Sunlight Is so Good for You.” Time, Time, 7 Aug. 2017, 
  6. YouTube, 7 Nov. 2023, Accessed 9 Nov. 2023. 
  7. “Are You A Mouth Breather? Learn Why Breathing through Your Nose Is Best.” Henry Ford Health – Detroit, MI, Accessed 9 Nov. 2023. 
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