Good health in general, whether it’s physical or mental, needs to be at the top of your priorities list. You need to take care of your health. There’s only one of you, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you will suffer and so will the people around you who love you.
I have gone through many ups and downs in life with mental and physical health enough to say that they are 100% connected. Whenever my physical health is going well, my mental health improves. It can be hard to get off the couch or out of bed when you suffer from depression or anxiety, but if you actually FORCE yourself to get up and do a workout, or a short walk…I can pretty much guarantee you will feel better afterwards. You will have a better appetite, you will feel calmer, happier and refreshed.
More recently, I have taken to working out as more of a ritual for self-care. I make sure I get my 30 minute workout in every single day. You definitely have half an hour a day to exercise! I was thinking about the best way to break down the benefits of exercise for mental health and I believe that the best way is to show you all which exercises are most helpful are to match a type of exercise to a common mental health issue or block that we face. Check these out!
YOGA FOR ANXIETY
Yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. I have been practising yoga for about 17 years now, since my final couple of years of high school. I feel so calm, centered and focused when I do yoga. Also when your muscles tense and then relax again, the blood feels regenerated and refreshed. It also helps with mental clarity, if you have a big project you need to tackle or if you feel stuck or overwhelmed on a work task, after yoga you will find that you are able to think more clearly. I could not recommend yoga enough! It is great for beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts. I love Yoga with Adrienne, it is on YouTube totally free and many sessions are very gentle!
WALKING FOR DEPRESSION
Walking is AMAZING and so therapeutic! It is said that when anxiety and depression are taking a toll on us, being in alignment with nature is the best step forward for your brain. Even if you take a short 15 minute walk, it is extremely beneficial for feeling uplifted and happier. Some people don’t enjoy high impact and sweaty exercises. Walking is perfect for people who enjoy calming but also great for your heart exercise. Do you know what I find even more helpful? Walking ALONE. When I’m feeling particularly down or I need to work out a problem in my head, I enjoy walking alone so that I can process my own thoughts and not feel forced to carry on a conversation. If you want the company, walking with someone who doesn’t stress you out or talk about anything depressing is a must.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) FOR CONFIDENCE
Ok so I have taken to this recently. I used to only like walking and yoga, and those are super helpful, but sometimes a good sweat is what I need. I like doing short, high intensity exercises for my mental wellbeing. It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything after I finish a tough workout, so they are AMAZING for your confidence! I do the 21 day fix from Beachbody for this sort of workout, but you can really do any HIIT workout, you can also check out some free ones on YouTube, just make sure you follow the safety rules and guidelines and check with your doctor before starting any intense exercise! After one of these sweat sessions, be ready to take over the world, you will feel clear-headed and ready to accomplish a lot.
SWIMMING FOR CREATIVITY
Swimming is another low-impact non-weight bearing exercise that is super helpful for mental health. Now I don’t swim but I enjoy walks on the beach, lol. So I wanted to get the best perspective on this, since I don’t know what it’s like to have a good swim, so I asked some of my avid swimmer friends about why they love swimming. Do you know what they all said? It helps them come up with new ideas! I have friends who are writers who absolutely love swimming when they get writers block. It makes total sense! It’s just so refreshing to be in water it wakes up your senses. It must bring new perspectives to things, so try it if you want to feel creative!
KICKBOXING/SELF-DEFENSE FOR INNER STRENGTH
Do you ever get a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re walking alone at night? Or feel uneasy in an environment you’re not used to? You want to feel strong but the fear and anxiety kick in in certain situations. Take a kickboxing or self-defense class! Nothing will make you feel stronger than knowing you can defend yourself in any dangerous situation. If you have taken classes like this, it translates into inner-strength in your everyday life. It is a very proactive approach to that helpless feeling.
These are based on experience in my case, and in people I have talked to. I would love to learn about what you all do for exercise and what aspects of your mental health improves with it!
Ellenie is a wife and mom to one amazing and spirited little boy. She is a social media manager and virtual assistant. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a special focus on generalized anxiety disorders and OCD. She has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks her whole life. Ellenie has been finding positive ways to conquer her mental battles every day and would love to share them with anyone who also suffers from an anxiety disorder. She also has Crohn’s Disease, and has written about living with its struggles and raising a young baby. Ellenie lives in Montreal, Quebec, but is planning on travelling a lot in the near future. She loves to stay active and eat healthy, a few of the key lifestyle changes that have helped her with her mental and physical health struggles.
You can find her on her website, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.