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We all know that exercise is great for our physical health, but I feel like the mental health benefits are always overlooked! I know for me, exercising helps so much with releasing stress and tension. Not only do I feel better physically when I’m done, but it also feels so great knowing that I accomplished that for myself afterwards! Pushing through sometimes is difficult but I always feel so productive when I’m done, and that’s always a great thing to feel when your mental health is struggling.
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Exercise has been shown to release serotonin in your brain as well, which are the feel-good molecules in your brain. When you’re super stressed and anxious, the serotonin in your brain often times gets depleted. This is why people feel great benefits from antidepressants, as they raise the serotonin levels in your brain. Exercise is a great way to do this naturally!
(Note: If you need antidepressants, do not feel bad for taking them at all! If your doctor/therapist deems it best for you to be on medication, then exercise is a great addition to your regime!)
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Something normally known as a relaxing exercise for your mind, body and soul is yoga and pilates, which of course is an amazing way to unwind while getting a good workout in! However I wanted to go over other exercises that I personally know have benefited me in my mental health journey. Plus, I am just not as flexible as those who do pilates!
Here’s my top 5 exercises that I feel help me a great ton whenever I’m stressed out. These won’t be a fit-all solution, so trial and error is best to see what helps you the most!
Taking a walk outside
My number one favorite thing to do is get out and walk. It seems so simple, yet for those struggling with mental health it can seem like a daunting task. If you can just force yourself to change your clothes and get outside though, I promise you will feel a big difference! Getting some fresh air and trying your best to be present in the moment feels so good. You can put on some headphones and listen to your favorite music while you get those steps in. I love to take my dogs with me too, and often times I’ll walk with my husband as well, so it’s a nice time for family to bond and spend time together!
I looooove strength training. My personal favorite part to work out is lower body and glutes. Building up those muscles makes me feel so strong and fit, which is a great way to help my self esteem! Often times though, it can be hard for me to feel motivated enough to get up and do the workout, because strength training is definitely not easy! You have to just stop making excuses and get up and do the damn thing. It only takes 30 minutes to get in a good workout, and I always feel so good about myself once I’m done!
I live in Texas, and it’s hot year round here, so I’m able to swim basically whenever from spring to fall. Swimming is a great way to get some exercise in! The pool is definitely my happy place. Getting some vitamin D and being in the water is so relaxing for my mind. Plus I can usually get a good tan out it, too!
Something I like to do whenever I’m stressed and don’t want to think much about my workout, but still at the same time get a workout in, is to get on the elliptical. I put in my earbuds and just zone out to the music, and it honestly relaxes my mind so much. I usually do this for about 30 minutes, and it can either be its own workout in itself or you can use it as a warm up to your workout. Being able to help my body physically and mentally is a win-win!
So I’m not a professional dancer by ANY means, but a lot of times when I’m working out and listening to music, I catch myself getting so into the music that I just start dancing for fun in between sets. Dancing gets your heart rate up for a great cardio workout, and listening to music helps your mind feel calm and happy! Best of both worlds!
I definitely feel great impacts on my mind when I get exercise in. I’m a firm believer that the mind, body, and soul are all connected, and we need to nurture each of these to feel strong and healthy. Comment below what your favorite exercises are and how they help with your mental health!