How Exercise Can Help Your Mental Health

Mental health conditions are much more prevalent than you might think. Most of us experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives, with depression and anxiety among the most common. Treatments can include talking therapies, medication, group therapy, and alternative therapies, such as art or drama. Many people are surprised to learn that exercise can have a hugely positive effect on their mental health and state of mind.

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How Can It Help?

Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication at reducing anxiety and depression in mild forms. The reasons for this are varied. Preforming an exercise can change what’s going on in your brain. It promotes neural growth, reduces any inflammation present, and can lead to a feeling of calm and peace. Exercising also releases adrenaline, endorphins and serotonin, which can leave you feeling great.

Exercise, and doing something to better yourself, can also help to reduce any feelings of worthlessness and guilt. You’ll feel a sense of achievement and pride in what you have done. You could also see a change in your body, which could improve your self-confidence massively.

Aside from chemical reactions and physical improvements, sometimes exercise can just give your mind a break. Getting out of your normal routines, and having to concentrate on learning something new, and pushing yourself harder, can give your brain a chance to rest, distracting you from any negative thoughts.

If you have been having trouble sleeping, exercise can be a huge help. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of exercise during the day can lead to a better night’s sleep.

What Should I Do?

This will depend on your levels of fitness, but to truly take your mind off any negativity, it should be something you find challenges your body. Running is a great all over body exercise, and being out in the fresh air can also be a great mood lifter. Start with a brisk walk, or try a couch to 5k program. When you run, try to focus on the feelings. Concentrate on how it feels when your foot strikes the ground, how the wind feels on your face. Let these physical feelings dominate your usual thought processes.

If you have any physical disabilities, swimming is a brilliant way to exercise, as the water reduces the stress on your joints, but you still get a great workout.

If you feel you can, an exercise class can be a great way to not only exercise and push yourself, but also to meet new people. See if a friend will come with you if you are worried about signing up alone.

Motivation

When you are suffering from depression or anxiety, going out and exercising might be the last thing you want to do. Try to remind yourself that it’s only a small part of your day, and you’ll reap the rewards for much longer. Make yourself a plan, and stick to it, and try to schedule exercise for a part of the day when you have the most energy. Reward yourself when you complete a week, or hit the goals you have set. Remind yourself that working out will help everything else feel better.

One of the most important things is to carry on. Even once you are feeling better. Keeping up an exercise routine can help aid both your physical and mental health, keeping you feeling great.

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