Mind Your Mental Health
Coping with stressful mental health conditions has become an even greater challenge due to all the changes in our living conditions.
Giving your day structure and maintaining that structure can help you get through the day. Try to keep as active as possible, and keep in touch with other people. When youre facing difficult situations, having a person you trust to rely on can help you navigate things. Try not to consume alcohol or other substances. Look for other options to calm yourself down. Get professional help if youre experiencing a serious mental health crisis.
Exercise And Ptsd And Trauma
Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become unstuck and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of allowing your mind to wander, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legssuch as walking , running, swimming, weight training, or dancingare some of your best choices.
Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
Affordable Online Therapy for Mental Health Problems
Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
Need urgent help? .
Overcoming Obstacles To Exercise
Even when you know that exercise will help you feel better, taking that first step is still easier said than done. Obstacles to exercising are very realparticularly when youre also struggling with a mental health issue.
Here are some common barriers and how you can get past them.
Feeling exhausted. When youre tired, depressed, or stressed, it seems that working out will just make you feel worse. But the truth is that physical activity is a powerful energizer. Studies show that regular exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase your energy levels. If you are really feeling tired, promise yourself a quick, 5-minute walk. Chances are, once you get moving youll have more energy and be able to walk for longer.
Feeling overwhelmed. When youre stressed or depressed, the thought of adding another obligation to your busy daily schedule can seem overwhelming. Working out just doesnt seem practical. If you have children, finding childcare while you exercise can also be a big hurdle. However, if you begin thinking of physical activity as a priority , youll soon find ways to fit small amounts of exercise into even the busiest schedule.
Feeling hopeless. Even if youve never exercised before, you can still find ways to comfortably get active. Start slow with easy, low-impact activities a few minutes each day, such as walking or dancing.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does Exercise Help Depression
Cardio For General Wellbeing
Jarrett in New York City tries to exercise six or seven times a week, alternating between weight training and cardio exercises like jogging, rowing, biking, and shadowboxing.
While hes been an exerciser for years, there have been several times when physical activity has been crucial: I had a very sudden, very serious blood illness in collegeit was pretty terrifying, he recalls. When I returned to school from the hospital, I was on meds that really messed with my mood, kicking me from highs in the morning to very depressive lows every night, and leading me to gain a lot of weight. I also was behind in all my classes and deeply in love with someone who wasnt sure what to do about it . I didnt start feeling normal until the doctor cleared me to return to exercising. It was like exercise regulated everything, and put me back in control of my life.
Then, When I was in grad school in London, my wife had to return to the states to find work, Jarrett says. He had no classes but spent 10 hours a day studying for exams. It was a period with very limited human contact and intense intellectual work I actually started dreaming in math .
You Dont Have To Exercise A Lot To See A Difference
Research is finding that even small amounts of exercise improve both physical and mental health. If instead of sitting down for 15 minutes you ran for 15 minutes, or if instead of sitting down for an hour you walked briskly for an hour, thats the level of activity that might actually make a difference, says Stoller, co-author of the new JAMA study.
Using data from more than 1.2 million U.S. adults, a large study from 2018 found that people could achieve better mental wellbeing by doing as little as two hours of exercise each week . It even said that doing too much exercise more than six hours per week may backfire psychologically. One study from 2017 came to an even more doable conclusion: that just an hour of exercise a week may be enough to prevent depression.
You May Like: How To Ask Someone For Help With Depression
How To Be More Active Every Day
Make exercise part of your everyday activity. Try walking or cycling instead of using the car. Get off a tram, train or bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. Or spend some time walking your kids to school. Get active around the house by doing some gardening, washing the car or cleaning the windows.
can give you more information. The important thing to remember is to try to move more and sit less every day.
What Is Physical Activity
At a very basic level, physical activity means any movement of your body that uses your muscles and expends energy. One of the great things about physical activity is that there are endless possibilities and there will be an activity to suit almost everyone!
It is recommended that the average adult should do between 75 and 150 minutes of exercise a week. This can be either moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, hiking or riding a bike, or it can be more vigorous activities, such as running, swimming fast, aerobics or skipping with a rope. Any activity that raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster, and makes you feel warmer counts towards your exercise!
An easy way to look at types of physical activity is to put them into four separate categories.
Daily physical activity
For adults, physical activity can include recreational or leisure-time physical activity,
transportation , occupational activity , household chores, play, games, sports, or planned exercise in the context of daily, family, and community activities.
Everyday things such as walking to the bus stop, carrying bags or climbing stairs all count, and can add up to the 150 minutes of exercise a week recommended for the average adult.
Purposeful activity carried out to improve health or fitness, such as jogging or cycling, or lifting weights to increase strength.
Unstructured activity that is done for fun or enjoyment.
Read Also: How To Talk To Your Teenager About Depression
Exercise May Improve Depression Treatment
Exercise is not a cure for mental health issues, and depression itself can be an obstacle to getting enough physical activity.
But while exercise is not a perfect solution for depression, studies have shown that it can make a difference. One 2018 review of studies found that physical activity specifically resistance training, like weight-lifting can reduce symptoms of depression, perhaps even as effectively as conventional treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and medication for some people. Other studies have found that virtually any type of workout, from cardio to yoga, can lessen depressive symptoms.
Its still unclear how exercise may achieve these effects, but researchers have theories. Rigorous workouts, like weight-lifting and running, may increase blood flow to the brain, potentially altering its structure and cellular makeup. Exercise can also trigger the release of mood-boosting endorphins. Yogas emphasis on breath work and mindfulness may also play a part.
Even A Little Bit Of Activity Is Better Than Nothing
If you dont have time for 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, for example, thats okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy youll have, so eventually youll feel ready for a little more. The key is to commit to some moderate physical activityhowever littleon most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.
Recommended Reading: Can I Overcome Depression Without Medication
Exercising For Your Mental Health
If regular exercise is not already a part of your routine, you might be wondering how much you need to do to give your mental health a boost.
The really good news is exercise doesnt have to be strenuous or take a long time. Studies show low or moderate intensity exercise is enough to make a difference in terms of your mood and thinking patterns.
Australias physical activity and sedentary guidelines recommend adults should be active most days, aiming for a total of 2.5-5 hours of moderate physical activity per week, such as a brisk walk or swimming. Alternatively, they recommend getting 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity per week – such as jogging, fast cycling, or a team sport. Or, you can combine both moderate and vigorous activities.
However, any exercise is better than none. Going for a leisurely walk, or activities like stretching and yoga, can also have huge benefits on your mind and body. Even doing housework like sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming can give you a mild work out.
Exercise And Depression Evidence
Some studies have found that exercise can be a moderately helpful treatment for mild to moderate depression in adults. Exercise should therefore be considered as an important lifestyle change that is used in addition to other treatments for depression.
The benefits that can be attained from exercise depend on the amount of exercise that is undertaken. Most studies showing that exercise was helpful used aerobic exercise , for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, for at least eight weeks.
More research is needed to work out the best type of exercise, how often and for how long it should be done, and whether it is better in a group or individually.
The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. People with significant heart or respiratory illnesses should seek medical advice before starting on an exercise program.
Recommended Reading: What Do Anxiety And Depression Have In Common
The Links Below Offer Information And Tips:
- Follow the German Society for Psychologys guidelines, available here: Also have a look at the Psychenet website . Aktionsbündnis Seelische Gesundheit has useful information and tips .
- This website is focused primarily on young people: .
I Can Imagine A Lot Of Reasons Why Boxing Helped Me Feel Better
Boxing gave me an outlet a way to express pent-up emotions, and a break from being in my head.
When I felt helpless, boxing empowered me. When I felt alone, boxing gave me a coach and a community.
When I felt frustrated, angry, or simply like beating the crap out of a heavy bag, well boxing is just what the depression doctor ordered.
I left each class high on endorphins and a sense of satisfied accomplishment.
Also Check: How To Tell People You Are Depressed
Exercise Can Help You Deal With Challenging Emotions
- Regular physical activity builds resilience and flexibility. When you have an exercise regimen, you get used to moving your body even when you dont want to. You also learn to stretch your body beyond what feels comfortable at the present moment. This kind of resilience and flexibility is extremely beneficial if you have a mood disorder like depression. Remember, the brain can change the way it operates based on the new patterns you create. When you work out, you teach your brain to keep going when your body is uncomfortable. The hippocampus learns this pattern and memorizes it. Your brain also learns that this kind of resilience has positive rewards, including endorphins. So, when you face challenging situations, your mind remembers this pattern and releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, increasing your drive and motivation.
What Should I Do If Exercise Is Painful
Never ignore pain. You may cause stress and damage to your joints and muscles if you continue exercising through pain.
If you still feel pain a couple hours after exercising, you have probably overexerted yourself and need to decrease your activity level. If your pain persists or is severe, or if you suspect you have injured yourself, contact your doctor.
If you are unable to regularly participate in exercise or athletics, you can also try other tools to help boost your mood. Studies of meditation and massage therapy have demonstrated that these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion, increase relaxation, and aid in boosting mood.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Feel So Depressed In The Morning
Exercise And The Brain
Exercise encourages nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, reduces inflammation in the brain, and increases the amount of oxygen in your body. The brain has an incredible amount of neuroplasticity, which means it can change how its wired, how it functions, and the patterns it creates. When you exercise, your brain rewires itself and changes how it operates. Exercise can help relieve some of the stress depression causes the brain by:
- Increasing your heart rate, which pumps more oxygen into the brain, raising your energy levels.
- Creating new connections in cortical areas of the brain, which regulate your emotions, personality, and how you think and perceive the outside world.
- Increasing the number of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, dopamine, and endorphins which can make you feel energized, happy, and motivated.
Exercise Helps Reduce Stress & Anxiety
- Life can be stressful. Stress, especially in large amounts, can lead to depression, particularly if it is managed in unhealthy ways. Physical fitness is a healthy distraction. No, exercise cant and wont make stress go away, but it can give you time to step away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. As you distract your mind and break up the mental obsession with negative thoughts, your increased activity level decreases the number of stress hormones in your body and releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and energize you. By the time you stop working out, youll have fewer stress hormones to deal with and you may have a better perspective on your situation, as well.
Don’t Miss: How To Fight Off Depression Naturally
Exercise Can Sharpen Memory
There’s also scientific evidence that people who exercise experience improvements in episodic memory, which is our ability to bind how events, people and places come together in everyday life. Exercise can also benefit the brain’s spatial navigation, or the ability to remember everyday life events, like where you parked your car.
Exercise can also help people maintain their cognitive abilities as they age. Many studies have found that physically active elderly people perform better than sedentary elderly people on cognitive tasks such as reasoning, vocabulary, memory and reaction time. It’s known that regular exercise can prevent memory-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. Exercise can increase the brain’s ability to create new neurons in rodents, which can enable the brain to learn new information and improve memory. Whether adult hippocampal neurogenesis can be increased by exercise in humans remains to be determined, but there is a robust and growing body of research among school-aged children.
For people who have already been diagnosed with memory-related diseases, exercise is a commonly recommended intervention. Studies show that one year of activity interventions can increase the volume of the hippocampus the part of the brain that deals with learning and memory by one percent.
Weight Training For An Eating Disorder
Micco in Chicago relies on exercise as well as medication to help treat her anxiety and depression. And as someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, her relationship with exercise is complicatedand inspiring.
When I started exercising about 13 years ago, I saw it as a way to control my weight and my body, she recalls. When I got to my lowest weight, about nine years ago, my hair was falling out. Id stopped menstruating. And my anxiety was so bad, I was having a hard time being in public. Id carry a scale in my car, and when Id panic, Id leave situations to weigh myself. Its absurd in hindsighta memory of someone that I have a hard time recognizing as me.
Since exercise can help people lose weight, as part of her recovery, Micco limited her workouts to functional exercising, like bike commuting, for several years. It wasnt until four years ago that I felt okay exercising again. She hoped cardio workouts might improve her mood, but when it didnt, it was hard to feel like exercise was worth prioritizing.
However, That changed when GLOW came out in 2017, Micco says. I was really inspired by how strong and athletic all the women on GLOW were, regardless of their shapes and sizes. At the same time, I started seeing all these Instagram videos of Alison Brie moving just incredible amounts of weight. Id see her, and think, I want to do that.
Also Check: I Hate My Body Depression
Practical Recommendations For Successfully Implementing An Exercise Program
Posted August 22, 2014
Exercise doesn’t have to be excruciating
In a refreshingly practical 2013 paper in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, researchers Chad Rethorst and Madhukar Trivedi of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center review the literature for exercise just as one would review any medical treatment: including dose, duration, onset of action, possible side effects, toxicities, how it can be combined with other treatments, and for whom it does/doesnt work. They make recommendations for exercise dosing, exercise prescription that a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health worker could provide to a patient–or that people with such disorders can incorporate into their lives.
Below Ive summarized their recommendations in the form of answers to commonly asked questions.
Does exercise help depression?
Basically, the news is encouraging. Exercise is a reasonably good antidepressant, nearly as effective as SSRI antidepressants. It can be an effective treatment in itself. It can help people who only partially improve on SSRI medications to get a better response, and it can prevent the return of depression.
How much exercise is required to get a full antidepressant effect, and how long does it take to work?
Similar to other treatments, it takes a while before the full antidepressant effect of exercise kicks in: it can take 4 to 6 weeks to start working, and can achieve maximal effect by around 10 weeks.