I have always loved exercise. These days, I let my mood determine my everyday workouts. I listen to my body and adjust my exercise around how I feel.

I also take my hormone cycle into consideration and allow my body to rest on the first few days of my period. If I feel stressed, I opt for recovery exercise with a lower heart rate, such as fast-paced walks.

After that, I do a light workout using my own body weight without forgetting to stretch. When I need some energy, I go for a higher heart rate by, for example, running up the stairs in the nearby park.
If I’m feeling low, I turn up the volume of my favourite music at home and dance until I work up a sweat. I usually feel better in a matter of minutes.

The Finnish mentality of “all or nothing” seems to apply to exercise as well. I personally enjoy mini workouts: a daily 5–10-minute dance session amounts to about one hour of working out per week and cheers me up every single day.

When you’re exposed to long-term stress, the cortisol emitted by the body starts breaking up your neuron connections. Only the neuron connections related to stress become stronger. It leaves us with a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and potential memory loss. Stress is quickly reflected in the quality of sleep: we find it more difficult to fall asleep and we start to wake up in the middle of the night.

Exercise increases our serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine levels and helps us form new neuron connections. Regular exercise enables us to break the cycle of stressful thoughts, improves the quality of sleep and lifts the spirits.

Many of the issues running through your head are solved when running or, for example, swimming, as your brain is tuned to the correct frequency. These days, I try to schedule walking meetings whenever possible.

I have a weekly basketball practice. In team sports, being part of the team, hugging and engaging in physical contact releases oxytocin. High levels of oxytocin are also released during a massage, a kiss or an orgasm. If you don’t have a person to hug right now, team sports can act as an excellent source of oxytocin and make your everyday life more enjoyable.

Competing and setting goals increases the release of dopamine and establishes a healthy addiction to the sport. In the middle of a relationship crisis or a break-up, we may seek some feel-good chemicals from marathons or triathlons. Sometimes, an addiction to sports may become a problem. This may result in overtraining and burnout.

If you are faced with a situation like this, try to think about other sources for the same feel-good chemicals. What makes you happy? What have you always dreamed of?

A burnout always happens for a reason. Our bodies force us to stop and listen to what’s inside us. Pain gives room for growth.