Mental Health and Exercise

I feel we must make the very best of our situations and keep a strong mental attitude. Lately, I’ve been sharing a lot of self-care ideas. Today I’ll share how mental health and physical activity is so beneficial for overall well-being.

Debbie Corley

Physical activity and exercise can be effective treatment strategies for symptoms of depression and anxiety. I have found that even taking a brisk walk to get my heart rate up takes my mind off of the negative. Each day is a new opportunity to engage in physical activity and exercise can bring short and long-term benefits for mood, sleep, and physical health. I’ve had to come up with at home ways to get my yoga stretches in. It can be difficult to get motivated but it’s really important both physically and mentally to keep up a healthy routine.

I knew I was going to really miss my Yoga Tribe and my gym last year. I panicked because I rely on yoga classes to help me with my scoliosis and it’s chronic pain from the arthritis it has created. Figuring out how to work out at home in 2020 took some time.

First of all, I knew I had to figure out what my diet should look like. Since I now had so much time on my hands, I wanted to bake and cook. Oddly, it’s really difficult to cook for 1. I had to make good choices and allow myself to also enjoy what I cooked. So, I really watched portions and froze any leftovers.

I decided that I would try to workout 5 days a week and learn some new exercises that would keep me entertained. I also realized that my workouts would likely not have the same intensity as before. Zoom classes were not working for me. I chose to do a few minutes of yoga on my own every morning. I would hold my yoga poses and stretches. During this time I practiced meditation. That worked out great for me.

Debbie Corley

Next, I needed to do a little strength training. I tried to do this 1 or 2 times a week. I used laundry detergent as weights. Arm curls and tricep extensions were my main arm exercises, and the walking stairs in my house holding the detergent bottles worked well. Planks were a life saver! I did planks every day. I also wanted to continue working on my balance. As I’ve aged I noticed how very important it is to work on balance. I feel it keeps me from tripping and keeps my coordination in check. I wasn’t blessed in the coordination department at all!

And finally, I really enjoyed cardio. I took a lot of walks, I tried to walk hills and be in beautiful nature sites near my home. I noticed everything I could – from smells to the smallest bugs. I even was able to work on learning moving meditation. It can almost feel like a “runners high”.

Consistency and sustained motivation may be enhanced by peer support. We don’t have much of this at the moment, so I’ve made sure I reach out to my friends, tell them what I’ve done for the day, and ask them to share with me what they are doing. I have been talking with friends and family lately about mental health. Seasonal affective disorder is real and with COVID, it’s a double whammy.

For managing symptoms of depression, some research suggests that elevated levels of aerobic activity (exercise that significantly raises our heart rates) may be associated with greater reductions in depressive symptoms. And for some, this might be accomplished through exercise in their homes including jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and jumping rope help. I love my jump rope. For others, the use of home exercise equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes may be helpful.

I know it’s tough to find a new workout rhythm, especially when we have some incredibly challenging circumstances. Getting motivated is not easy with so much on your mind. But remember that exercise can help a little to take your mind off the stay-at-home blues, and help motivate you to not overdo it on the baking and snacks.

Debbie Corley

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.”
Alysha Speer

Let’s learn how to cope better, and be kinder to one another. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy, and maybe find some new activities. Be kind always, and helpful when ever you can.

I really hope this helps, please share your ideas on staying mentally healthy through COVID.

Together we can do this!

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