Mental health problems are on the rise, and while the stigma is nothing like it…
Exercising As A Form Of Self Care
It is a well-researched fact that exercise promotes physical wellbeing, but current studies now indicate that consistent, moderate exercise throughout the week also aids in mental well-health. From stress reduction, improved focus, memory retention, and increased positive mood, exercise proves to be one of the best natural supplements for mental health and one of the best activities you can engage in for self-care.
How Is Exercise Self Care?
When some people imagine self-care activities, they think of things that are fun and relaxing that help the body and mind to unwind, such as a nice bubble bath or binge-watching their favorite show. Most don’t imagine huffing and puffing through a challenging cardio workout as self-care, but in reality, it is. Self-care is any activity that helps to reduce stress and promotes mental health and cognitive functioning. By this definition, exercise is a perfect form of self-care.
How Does Exercise Affect Mental Health?
When you engage in a challenging workout it increases your heart rate, prompting the release of endorphins, which help you to feel calm and happy. In fact, consistent moderate exercise is as effective antidepressant medications at reducing symptoms of depression. Exercise also helps reduce the symptoms related to anxiety by relaxing muscles that have become knotted and tightened due to stress. Exercise helps the mind and body to become more balanced and work in tandem.
Amount of Exercise for Optimal Mental Health and Self Care
The goal is to improve and maintain physical and mental health when exercising. You don’t want to start out too strong, especially if you have been sedentary for a while or are new to exercising. You should consult a physician before beginning any exercise regimen, but a general rule of thumb is to attempt to exercise at least 150 minutes per week if you are doing activities like walking or swimming and 75 minutes per week if you are engaging in more challenging activities such as running.
What Exercise Is Best For Self Care?
The best exercise for self-care is the one that makes you the happiest. You are more likely to stick with an exercise regimen that you enjoy so find an activity that makes you happy and that you can work at a consistent pace. Love swimming? Find a local pool and do some laps or take an aqua aerobics class. Love running? Find a local runners club in your area to join. Engaging in physical activity doesn’t have to be a solitary feat and the social interaction will help to keep you interested.
Starting an exercise regimen can be difficult at first. Instead of viewing it as a “have to” find something that you enjoy and stick with it. The more you engage in and repeat the activity the more that it will become part of your self-care routine. Happy exercising!
How Exercising Helps with Anxiety and Panic Attacks
You probably already know that exercising is an amazing way to keep physically fit, manage your weight, improve your cardiovascular health, and give you energy. But the benefits of moving your body go far beyond physical. There are also many mental and emotional benefits of regular exercise, including helping with your mental health.
The Relationship Between Anxiety and Activity
Though the connection is not entirely understood, a clear link exists between physical activity and a decrease in the likelihood of anxiety and its co-morbidities, including depression and panic attacks. These effects occur biologically, psychologically, and emotionally.
Physical exertion releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that function as natural painkillers. Not only do endorphins stimulate positive feelings, they also improve sleep. Sleep, in turn, reduces stress and improves anxiety. Endorphins aside, exercise energizes the body, leaving you feeling good both during and after the activity. Better mood, better sleep, and better feelings reduce the physiological and psychological symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety can be all-consuming, and it is this overwhelming sense of worry or dread that leads to panic attacks. Engaging in physical activity that you find both challenging and enjoyable distracts you from obsessive, harmful thinking. Your mind rests, in a sense, while your body works. It is important to find an activity that does present a challenge and an activity you’re interested in participating for the greatest benefits in this regard.
Halfhearted participation in exercise that feels more a chore than a fun activity is not helpful, and it may lead to further stress and anxiety. This activity does not need to be hardcore exercise; a game of soccer with friends, a swim in the pool, gardening, or a simple walk will do the job. It’s all about getting your heart pumping and your mind off worries.
Giving yourself the goal of more physical activity and following through with it will leave you feeling accomplished. Pursuing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle, too, will grow your confidence. Self-contentment and confidence is incredibly beneficial in keeping anxiety at bay, since most anxiety is rooted in inner conflict.
Getting and Remaining Motivated
The most difficult part about increasing your physical activity to reduce anxiety and the likelihood of panic attacks is getting started. It can feel impossible for an overburdened mind to find the time and energy to decide upon and pursue change, but it is not. A professional can help you develop a plan to get started on and stick to a new regimen of activity. The most important thing is to find activities you enjoy that you can, and want to, fit in to your life and schedule. As a supplement to psychotherapy and psychiatric care, physical activity is immensely beneficial in improving your mood.
The Impact Of Group Exercise
We have all heard about the benefits of exercise for years now. Exercise leads to an increased overall sense of mental wellbeing, decreased stress levels, a stronger heart, and much more. Even though most of us are well aware of these benefits, many still find it difficult to engage in a consistent physical fitness program that leads to lasting results. It could be because of a perceived lack of time, no motivation, or any of a number of other reasons that keep us from exercising as we should. This is where group exercise can become so beneficial. Many people are finding that this form of fitness program provides numerous advantages over that of exercising alone. Consider the following four benefits of group exercise and look towards joining a program in your area very soon.
Low Pressure Social Activity
We have enough stress in our life already. Exercise does not need to become a burden. You know that it is necessary to a healthy body, but engaging in a fitness program on your own might increase your anxiety rather than reduce it. However, participating in group exercise allows you to engage in a social activity with very little pressure involved. You will feel better as a result, and this will bring about numerous benefits as a result.
Get More Involved with Family and Friends
If you are finding that you have less and less time to spend with family and friends, group exercise is a way to change that. You will find that you look forward to each session. You can catch up with one another, laugh, and exchange stories all while getting the benefit of physical activity at the same time. This is a great way to enhance your overall sense of wellbeing.
Have Others Help Keep You Accountable
When it comes to exercise, it is recommended that we have a plan for accountability. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have others in a group setting that are depending on us being there. As a result, you will be less likely to miss any given session because you know that others will be wondering what happened to you. Likewise, you will also help to keep others accountable. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
If you are already feeling a bit beat up emotionally, you do not want to exercise alone. That just isolates you with your thoughts. Instead, you want to be with others who will uplift and encourage you. That is what you will get with group exercise. So if you are looking for ways to improve your mental wellbeing through fitness, then group exercise may just be the solution that you have been looking for. You can effectively lower your stress levels, decrease anxiety, and minimize the effects of depression as you break a sweat with others. Get out there and give it a try today.
Choosing Your Exercise For A Relaxed Mind
- Exercise is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle. The mind and body benefit in many ways from simple daily exercises. It is well known that exercise can lead to an improved physique. However, exercises can also improve the function of the brain as well.
- Exercises release endorphins. These are neurotransmitters that create a sense of euphoria and alertness. The production of stress-hormones like cortisol also decreases with exercise. Simple exercises can help to regain control over life.
- No equipment or gym memberships required. Everyday activities are enough to live a healthier life. Every exercise should be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen the mind and body.
Walking is the simplest form of exercise there is. There is little thought that goes into walking and the activity does not feel like a chore. A walk outside every day can alleviate stress and add years to life. A walk outside promotes more neural activity in the brain. It is believed that blue skies help to relax the brain. The fresh air that the brain receives from outside promotes circulation. Improved circulation can increase cognitive abilities.
Hiking offers an opportunity to get in touch with nature. There is a strong connection between the human body and a natural environment. The human body is supposed to be neutrally charged. However, contact with any surface besides the bare ground creates a negative charge. This charge accumulates over a lifetime and does not leave the body until it encounters an opposing charge. A hike can help to relieve those charges. When you walk on the ground with your bare feet, this displaces the negative charge. As a result, the sinuses clear up, energy increases, and immunity improves. The body must be neutrally charged to maintain optimal health.
Yoga and meditation are commonly practiced around the world. They are best known for their healing and relaxing effects on the body. Yoga uses a variety of techniques to improve breathing. In fact, many of the symptoms related to stress and anxiety can be alleviated with improvements in breathing. Anytime the body releases stress hormones, the parasympathetic nervous systems activates. This results in rapid breathing. If breathing can be controlled, then feelings of stress and anxiety become more manageable. Another benefit of yoga is increased confidence. Yoga focuses on the development of the core muscles. Improvement of these muscles can lead to a better posture. There are many reports that correlate a strong posture with confidence
- Weight lifting can increase the production of testosterone. This hormone is known to inhibit the production of cortisol and regulate hormonal levels. The body also releases a surge of endorphins during a vigorous exercise.
- Weight lifting improves physique. This can help to create a greater sense of self-esteem for some people.
- Discipline is a key aspect of weight lifting. The discipline that is gained from weight lifting can make other tasks much easier. Thus, the benefits of weight lifting can transfer to any aspect of life.
Breathing Exercises For Mental Health
If you are looking for easy ways to improve your mental health, such as anxiety, stress or depression, there are many basic strategies you can use. One of them is breathing exercises, which you not only can do anywhere when you need to, but can incorporate them into your workout routine.
Benefits of Breathing Exercises
When you start looking into natural ways to help with your anxiety or panic attacks, relieve stress, or just find emotional wellness, the topic of breathing exercises probably come up. But how exactly can they help you? Here are some benefits of incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine:
- They can ease up panic attacks. If you get caught with a bad panic attack, it is hard to focus on anything else until it’s gone. While they tend to last only a few minutes, those few minutes feel like torture. One thing you can do is try using breathing exercises to begin calming yourself down.
- You can do them anywhere at any time. Another big benefit of breathing exercises is that there are no tools needed. You can do them during workouts, at home, while walking or showering, at work, even while driving as long as you pay attention to the road.
- They often help you learn how to meditate. Meditation can be used in conjunction with breathing exercises, but if you learn breathing techniques first, it makes it easier for you to learn meditation later down the road.
How to Perform Them
Breathing techniques start very simply, with just taking in deep breaths. This might seem like it is something you do already, but deep breathing is much different than what you do naturally. You want to sit in a quiet place and first relax. You then will just inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale out your mouth. You can also incorporate what is known as belly breathing, where you hold a hand on your stomach and focus on the sensations as you inhale and exhale.
Breathing during exercises
For people who are exercising for their mental health, they have a unique advantage for adding in breathing techniques. Combining both can really get you to a place of relaxation and start improving your stress or anxiety. It is best done during workouts like yoga, Pilates, hiking, and walking. If you are just starting out, try beginner’s yoga, which focuses on gentle movement and various breathing techniques.
Hiking and Other Outdoor Activities
While it is well established that a healthy body and mind most often go together and that exercise can help anyone on a path to mental wellness, there are extra benefits when that exercise takes place in the great outdoors. Stress and anxiety respond well to having a physical outlet and even more so when time is taken to enjoy nature.
Benefits of Choosing Outdoor Workouts
You may remember being told often as a child how important it was to “go out and get some sunshine.” It’s true that the vitamin D provided from a little sunlight during a morning jog can have far-reaching benefits. Getting adequate sunlight, much like exercising itself, helps to build the immune system up and regulate your chemical levels, which has a profound effect on your mood. Even just a quick 15-minute walk outside during your lunch break can give your mood a much-needed boost.
But vitamin D isn’t the only thing that going outside to exercise will provide to you. Many of the benefits found through exercise are amplified by the outdoors. Fresh air helps keep oxygen levels high, blood pressure low and can even improve your heart rate. Working out indoors may have similar benefits at a base level, but if you decide to take your routine outdoors, you can expect an even healthier experience for both mind and body. Much like deep breathing improves focus and helps to keep anxiety at bay, a little fresh air can go a long way.
Going outside for a workout is also an excellent way to hone your focus. Often when working out at home it can be tempting to stop and check your phone or take frequent breaks for other less active pastimes. Setting aside time that you respect as the time you’re going to work on your health and using that short period outside to workout and bring focus back to how you’re feeling mentally and physically can help greatly with self-esteem, managing stress and focusing on yourself in a healthy, positive way.
Outdoor Workout Possibilities Are Endless
If you’re struggling to find workout routines that fit into your schedule or that are affordable, there are a lot of exciting options. Going out of your way to explore new areas through hiking or jogging can bring great satisfaction, as well as helping you to build confidence as you learn more about your local areas.
Going on daily walks, even just around the block, is also a good way to meet new people. But even on your own your mental health benefits just from forming a healthy routine and getting blood and oxygen flows up while stress levels are worked out of the body. More adventure can be had for those looking for new mental stimulation by going swimming at the local public pool or beach, cycling in a new neighborhood, or even horseback riding, skiing or canoeing if any nearby facilities allow for these types of activities.
What To Listen To During Your Workouts
Music and exercise, both wonderful elements of the human experience. Our bodies like us to stay fit and active and reward us with major health benefits when we run, workout, stretch, and work at increasing our capacity and skill in any activity. It is essentially an instinctive survival mechanism of human life that we have to keep working at our goals and conquer them.
Why Is Music Good for Your Mental State?
Music is essentially pink noise. It has the right kind of melodies and action to keep us amused without overloading our brains. Yet, even for sake of relaxation, some people like to meditate and listen to pure white noise, unadulterated chaos like the broadcasts of radiation from the cosmos. But, even the sound of the human voice, itself, on a podcast or television can be soothing. When we communicate with others and hear the human voice, it assures us that we are not alone and comforts our souls by creating that innate human experience of harmonizing our thoughts with others.
Mixing Music and Exercise
People have been mixing music with their exercise since ancient times in the form of dancing. When people dance, they are exercising their entire bodies and showing the artistic and creative sides of what is possible. In this manner, it reaches their higher intellect and the creative centers of the brain that make us more than analytical and predictable robots. The rhythm of the music is particularly enchanting because the muscles during sexual activity all involve rhythmic crescendos. A beat is also important to keep people motivated and synchronized. It perfects our fine motor skills by giving us some direction of when to pause or when to act out certain aerobic exercise or dance moves.
Yet, music is beneficial no matter what type of exercise you may be doing because it is a distraction. It allows you to escape the humdrum reality and follow the piper into that blue zone, the place where dreams come from deep in our subconscious minds. If you have ever try the Word Association Test that is popular in psychology, you will get a glimpse into how our subconscious mind processes data. A lot of it is very rhythmic and follows rhyme and figurative concepts that are unique to each individual.
This is why abstract song lyrics and music can mean so many different things to so many different people. Everyone is associating personal thoughts and experiences from their subconscious minds with the words, phrases, ambiance, beats, and melodies that the music creates. This is also why we tend to develop strong music tastes during childhood and cherish those experiences. Those are the wonder years of our lives when we had low stress levels, and everything was new and exciting. Tapping into those calming memories can be nostalgic and give us a sense of happiness, no matter how hard our work week may have been.
Music is romantic, sexual, and the perfect cocktail to mix with exercise, driving, or just washing dishes. It is a surreal escape from the world and a break from the analytical and logical thought processes. So, keep dancing, exercising, and listening to music to make the most out of the human experience.
Mistakes To Avoid When Exercising
Everyone knows exercise is good for them, whether you are choosing to exercise to improve your mental health, get more energy, or for physical fitness purposes. The problem is that people make some mistakes along the way, which can make it hard to keep up your motivation and really benefit from it. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you start a new exercise routine.
Doing Too Much, Too Soon
When you first start, the examples you usually see are people who already have an exercise routine. You want to look and feel like they do, and as with many things in life, you want those results right now. However, the successful people you are trying to emulate have experience they’ve gained through trial and error. To avoid injury and disillusionment, you need to set up a routine for yourself that suits where you are at this moment. You do want to get healthier, of course, but you can only start at your current level of fitness. If you bite off more than you can chew at this point, you risk quitting before you have achieved your health goal.
Setting Too Many Rules for Yourself
The simplest way to quit before you accomplish your fitness goal is to make your routine too strict. If you are an early riser, exercising in the morning may suit you. If you’re not an early riser, exercising in the afternoon may suit your lifestyle better. You don’t need a slew of apps on your phone, a notebook or a stopwatch when you first start. If you set strict rules to follow before you know what you are truly capable of, you are setting yourself up to fail. Try a few different scenarios to see what works best for you.
Exercising for the Wrong Reason
When you exercise, your life is going to change. You want that change to be in a positive way which supports your mental health. If your only goal is to lose weight, you are missing out on the greatest benefit of taking care of yourself. Exercise affects not only your body but your mind and spirit as well. Take the time to decide exactly how you want your life to improve, and you’ll find your exercise routine becomes something you look forward to rather than dreading.
Forcing Yourself to Do Something You Don’t Want to Do
Exercise can be fun and relaxing. There are plenty of exercise systems for you to try. If you don’t like running on a treadmill, don’t do that. If you like the feeling you have after you’ve done a yoga routine, stick with that. Your body and your mind will thank you. Exercising does not need to be a battle. You will be much more successful in achieving your health goals if you avoid these four common mistakes. It’s your life, and you deserve to create the exercise routine that works for you.
How To Keep Up Your Motivation
The hardest part of exercise is not lifting weights or running. It’s finding the will to do it in the first place. Plenty of people find themselves slipping away from their exercise routine because they have trouble maintaining motivation. If you want to be able to stick to an exercise habit, these tips will help you to keep motivation up.
Do What You Like
The beauty of exercise is that it covers so many activities. Some people might get exercise by running laps. Others might get it by lifting weights or shooting hoops. If there’s a way you can work your body in a way that benefits you, that’s all you need. Work on developing motivation by starting off with activities you already get enjoyment out of. For more difficult tasks, try to see how you can make them more enjoyable.
Make It A Habit
The easiest way to turn an activity into a habit is to do it every day. It’s one thing to promise to yourself that you’ll exercise every day, but you have to take measures to make sure you can stick to it. Bring your gym clothes with you to work so that you can easily change into them. Fight back against any urge to skip out on exercising when you don’t have any reason not to go. The more you can stick to your exercise, the easier it will be to make it into a habit.
Get An Exercise Buddy
Some people enjoy exercising by themselves. They like how the solitude lets them clear their mind and focus on their exercise. However, if you’re particularly social, you may have a better time exercising with a partner. You can enjoy their company and work to motivate one another. If you’re having trouble with a certain exercise, a partner can show you how to make it easier on you or give you the encouragement needed to pull through.
Find Joy in It
Exercise shouldn’t be viewed as something you have to do. The idea of viewing anything that does our minds so much good as a punishment is absurd. Learn to develop a positive relationship with exercise by thinking of it as something you “get” to do. To have the ability and time to enjoy exercise is something that should never be taken for granted. To keep your motivation up, learn to smile at the sound of the word “exercise” and any similar terminology.
Track Your Progress
Exercise can get frustrating when it feels like you’re not making any progress. However, every workout you complete is another step forward. In order to make your progress feel more apparent, you need to keep a log. At the end of a workout, write down what you were able to get done. Even if your accomplishment is being able to run a bit further than you could the day before, it’s still a sign of progress. So many have trouble with exercise motivation because they see the negatives of exercise far more than the positives. If you want to find the motivation to exercise, you need to have an upbeat perspective on it. Only then can you make exercise into something that you actively crave.