You've probably heard that exercise can help relieve depression and anxiety. But it seems that for you, a hard workout session can have the opposite effect. In fact, lately you've been feeling cranky and irritable, no matter how much you work out. Surprisingly, it turns out that in this case, you should take your fitness regimen down a notch.
You're Eating Too Little
If you don't eat enough to sustain your workouts, chances are you'll end up feeling irritable instead of relaxed or happy. When you don't consume enough calories, you're more prone to anger, says "Fitness & Wellness News." Since exercise burns plenty of calories, you should be paying extra careful attention to your food intake. A restrictive diet can result in chemical imbalances that make it nearly impossible to control your moods. The average woman should eat around 1,500 calories per day, and even more if she's working out. Talk to your doctor to find a meal plan that's right for you.
You're in Pain
If you subscribe to the old motto, "No pain, no gain," you could be pushing yourself too hard. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak warns that pain during a workout could actually be a sign that you're injured. In this case, it could be best for you to take a break. Training while hurt can not only make you irritable and angry, but it can also be dangerous. Always listen to your body. According to John Hopkins Orthopaedic Surgery, some discomfort is always to be expected during exercise, but swelling and persistent pain are usually bad signs.
You're Putting Pressure on Yourself
Goals are a great thing. If your aim is to lose weight or to run a certain number of miles, you might find some much-needed extra motivation to hit the gym. However, goals could also translate into more pressure and transform exercise into a negative experience. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a good way to deal with this mounting pressure is to know that not every day will be better than the last. In fact, some days you will experience setbacks at the gym. What's important is to look at the big picture and think about your improvements in the long term.
You Don't Like Your Workout
Finally, exercise could make you irritable when you don't enjoy what you're doing. Dreading the gym could be a sign that it's time for you to switch up your workout. The American Osteopathic Association recommends changing your exercise routine as often as every two weeks to prevent boredom and irritability. Trying new workouts or sports will not only improve your moods tremendously, but it's actually good for your muscles, too.
Debbie Lechtman is a writer living in Hartford, Conn. She has a degree in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. In the past, she has worked for major national publications, specializing in fitness and wellness. Currently, she works as a writer and copywriter and is awaiting the upcoming publication of two short stories in literary magazines.