When The Going Gets Tough, Go To Pilates: 5 Ways Pilates Keeps You Centered In Times Of Stress

We can all feel the pressure of a growing to-do list.

Something has got to give, and a lot of times that 'something' becomes your self-care/workout time. (Read: How to be stress-free and self-employed)

In times of stress it is more important than ever to make time for yourself.

You can't pour from an empty cup, folks. And Pilates in particular, has an amazing power to calm AND energize you at the same time.

How many times have you gone to a Pilates class with just a ton of sh*t on your mind, almost annoyed that you have to be there?

But then, when class is over, you just feel better. More in control. Ready to deal with whatever life throws at you. (Read: Because of Pilates: Just Say Yes to Life Through Pilates)

Take for example this story:

A client arrived a bit late, unusual for her. I could see her on the phone outside, talking nervously.

When she finally came in, she was flustered. Before she could tell me what was going on, she got another call. I could hear in her voice that it was a high-stress situation. Although she was incredibly calm, she paced, trying to talk someone down.

When she hung up he explained that there was an altercation with a manager, a potential lawsuit. This happened on top of the news of an unrelated, very stressful business matter that surfaced the night before and required immediate attention. The call outside was a third issue, unrelated. It was a trifecta of stress.

She had one million things to do and her mind was going miles a minute. But, she had committed to being at Pilates class, and so there she was. Still I could tell, with so much on her plate, Pilates was the last place she wanted to be.

I got her on the reformer, and she put everything he had into a full advanced reformer workout - transitions, advancements, no rest, the whole shebang.

I didn't give her a second to think about any of outside stressors. When her session was complete, she looked at me, her shirt soaked through with sweat.

She wiped the sweat from her forehead, and breathing heavy, said, "I am so happy I came this morning. I feel like my head is now in the right place to deal with all of this."

The moral of the story is this: When things get tough, that is when you make it to your session, keep your appointment, double down.

It is when things get tough and life gets stressful that you need Pilates the most. (Read: My Pilates Story: Pilates Saved My Life)

As Joseph Pilates said, "A body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter for a well-balanced mind."

Here are 5 ways Pilates keeps you centered in times of stress:

1. It gives you time to yourself. While you are at your Pilates lesson, there are no calls or texts to answer, no kids to tend to, and no traffic to navigate. It is a moment to recharge and center yourself with a little self care. It feels almost a bit meditative.

2. It makes you feel more in control. Pilates, originally named "Contrology" by its founder Joseph Pilates, teaches you to use your mind to control your muscles and body.

When you are in control of your body, you feel more in control of your life.

3. You will leave feeling more energized. Unlike some high-impact exercise systems that leave you feeling like your were run over by a truck, Pilates actually leaves you with more energy.

It moves the sludge out of your joints, improves circulation, stimulates your nervous system, and leaves you feeling great, like you are ready to take on the world.

4. Work out nervous tension. Pilates is a great workout. You will move your body to its limit and squeeze every ounce out of every move you make.

You will fight for it, and, if you listen to the teacher and do exactly as they say, there will be sweat.

You will also work out physical tension, tightness, and aches and pains.

You will leave your class more flexible, standing taller and even feel a bit lighter.

5. You will sleep better. Joseph Pilates believed the most important element for better sleep was mental calm.

When your mind is free from nervous energy and your body feels good, you sleep better.

The rolling exercises in Pilates were designed to massage the spine, relax the nerves and cleanse the body.