How Can Exercise Improve Your Mental Health?
If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, receiving counselling and psychotherapy face to face or online is an important way of processing difficult feelings in a private, supportive environment and coming up with practical solutions.
However, you most likely only see a therapist for an hour each week. Managing your mental health outside that time is just as important, and physical exercise is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy mindset in between sessions. This blog post walks you through a few ways exercise can be so beneficial for your mental health.
Our team of experienced therapists often use mindfulness as an important part of their work with clients. People who live with trauma-related issues, from addiction to depression to PTSD, struggle with the effects of their past and have anxiety about the future, which is why we work on practicing techniques that help them live more in the present. And while many may struggle to put this into practice in the treatment room or over Zoom, exercise gives people a more natural, instinctive way of feeling what is happening in and around them in each moment. In other words, exercise is mindfulness in action.
Exercise has been scientifically proven to improve one’s mental wellbeing. This is because physical activity boosts your endorphin levels, the ‘feel good’ chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord that creates feelings of euphoria. Even something simple like going on a 20-minute jog will leave you feeling lighter, happier, and more rested. At the same time, activities like running or swimming forces the central and sympathetic nervous systems to communicate with each other, which has the effect of improving your body’s ability to respond to stress.
For many people experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, sleep can often become a problem. Getting to sleep is harder when the mind is restless and full of painful thought patterns; and when you do fall asleep, the quality of that sleep is usually not so good, meaning you wake up unrested and have a more negative mindset throughout the day. An unhealthy cycle is therefore created. Exercise, however, can break this loop by regulating your body’s circadian rhythm and ensuring you feel suitably tired enough to fall asleep at a good hour and have longer, more restful sleep.
If you are experiencing mental health issues like depression or anxiety and want to know more about how we can help you as counsellors and psychotherapists in Hampstead and online, feel free to get in touch for a free, 30-minute consultation.
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