Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our own mental health and think about simple steps we can take to improve it. Alongside methods such as mindfulness and talking therapies, exercise can have a huge positive impact on our mindset.
1. It releases endorphins
When we train, our brain releases endorphins. Dopamine and serotonin give us that feeling of reward, achievement and happiness. They’re the same chemicals our brain releases when we laugh or hug someone and can act as a pain blocker.
2. It can be sociable
Gone are the days when everyone jumps on a treadmill with their headphones on. Now there are so many sports clubs and small group personal training sessions available that there’s something for everyone. When you’re feeling down it can be hard to go to the gym, but if you’ve arranged to meet someone then your sense of accountability will increase, helping to get you out of the door. That’s often the hardest step, once you’re out and about it’s likely your mood will lift.
3. It can boost your confidence
Whatever type of exercise you do you’ll see progress really quickly. If you’ve never run before then you may struggle with a 5K, but a few weeks down the line you’ll be doing it no problem. Lifting weights may seem like a new language but your strength will improve massively, and you’ll soon know what you’re doing. This feeling of progress can provide huge satisfaction and boost our feelings of self-worth. When the physical benefits of exercise kick in, lots of people feel an improvement in their body confidence too.
4. You’re actively taking control
Every time you go to the gym or put on your trainers for a run, you are taking a positive step for your physical and mental health. This can give you a real sense of power over your recovery, helping to get rid of the idea that you’re stuck or trapped in the situation. Every step can be a step closer to your physical and mental goals.
5. It becomes a habit
In no time at all, regular exercise becomes part of your routine. Although we all have bad days when we can’t be bothered, if we soldier on or make sure we have a really great session the next time then exercise will become a habit that can be sustained long-term, so you consistently feel the benefits.
If you’re thinking about using exercise to help tackle your mental health, then consistency is the key. Find a type of exercise you enjoy, whether it’s seeing a personal trainer, running, joining a team game, or even something as simple as walking. Whatever you decide to take up, make sure it’s something you enjoy as you’ll be more likely to stick to it. There are so many different ways to exercise, just take that first step in the right direction.