Yes, I know, I mentioned physical activity already this month. But this facet of mental health deserves a bit more exploration. Research shows that exercise can be more effective than antidepressants. It can help fight depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, and ADHD. It releases endorphins, improves blood flow, fights inflammation, and provides a mental break from those negative tapes you may play over and over. Not only that, but if your sleep patterns are less than optimal, exercise can help improve them. It can help your concentration and even help build new brain cells and reduce mental decline. It can give you better self-esteem and more energy and it can help you develop better resilience.
What is resilience? It is that thing that helps you to get through the day, stress, or hard times without getting sick, turning to drugs or alcohol or other addictions, or struggling as hard.
But maybe you don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone exercise. And ideally you should exercise 30 minutes a day five days per week. That can be overwhelming! But here’s the deal. You don’t have to do 30 minutes straight. You can do ten or fifteen minutes at a time. Or, you can even get all of your “prescribed” exercise on the weekends. Surprisingly, that works too. So, let’s break this down. Yes, you can certainly join a gym; but you don’t have to. You can be creative.
When do you have the most energy during the day? Are you energized first thing in the morning? Just before lunch? Right after work? Think about it. This would be the best time to add in exercise. But let’s assume that you have a busy schedule. That isn’t hard to imagine for most of us. It is May, and we all have things to do, but think about it, gardening is exercise. You can garden and it provides a double duty; getting your exercise and creating a beautiful yard.
You can also take the dog for a walk, head to the beach to swim, or canoe. Okay, I forgot, you are too busy for summertime activities. So park farther away from the store so you add steps to your day. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Stretch at your desk every hour or so. The possibilities to be active are endless and the very act of being creative to find those ways can help your sense of well being.
So now that spring is here, even in Montana, get out, get moving, and enjoy!