It is a well-known fact that getting up and getting active can have a positive effect on your mental health. This is because when you exercise, your body releases a set of chemicals known as increased endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoid, all of which contribute to positive feelings. Here, Russell Jack – a mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand – explores how working out can improve your mental health.
Make Exercise Part of Your Daily Life
Making exercise part of your daily routine is one of the best ways to boost your mental health regularly. Humans were not designed to be sedentary. Our ancestors were hunters, warriors, and physical laborers. Do you notice what these things all have in common? They share a linking factor of continuous required movement. Reverting, even a little, by adding a small, regular, and manageable exercise routine to your day can have a lasting impact on your mental health and physical health alike.
Start With What You are Comfortable With
Professional yoga instructors and mindfulness coaches work to help people comfortably and confidently approach wellness and their overall health. Due to their experiences working with a wide range of people, they can confidently note that starting with a workout you are comfortable with, be it a spin class, group yoga, or something solo, can help build your confidence before approaching other, broader spectrum fitness activities, especially if you struggle with social anxiety.
Once you are comfortable working out and have found your confidence in your body’s ability, you can begin to branch out slowly and try new things. You never know what you may enjoy! Bodybuilders often find mental solace in yoga practice and, likewise, those who tend to do lower impact workouts sometimes find comfort in the strength building of using weights.
Explore and find your niche. Your health and workout are deeply personal things and it’s important to put comfort and safety above all else. Find what you love and do it!
Set Loose Goals
Setting small, loose goals can help to give you something to work for. Something like going to the gym every other day or exploring a new class option can motivate you to stay active. Just be sure to be gentle with the goals and carefully choose them to be obtainable to prevent burnout. You want to make them achievable and enjoyable to motivate you further. Go slow and be kind to yourself.
For some people, it may be hard to get active due to children being present. We often recommend that parents invite their children to join in with exercises. This not only helps you to remain stable in your workout plan but also helps to create good habits for your children, as well, while helping to prevent illnesses!
Change Your Mindset
Sometimes, it is so incredibly easy to view exercise as a punishment or chore for eating poorly or otherwise not sticking to your diet. Instead of viewing exercise in a negative light, try taking a positive spin. Think of it as a way to support your health instead of punishing yourself; treat it with the mindset of, “I may not feel well now but exercising will make me feel better.”
Have a Long Term Target Goal
While having short term goals can help keep you motivated, having one long term goal can offer just as much support. Many people have a target weight for this but you can also make it something as simple as, “I want to feel good about myself,” or “I want to be able to run a mile.”
The journey to mental and physical fitness is yours but you do not have to do it alone. With professionals at your side, you can conquer anything and start working towards a better you!
About Russell Jack:
Russell Herbert Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights protection, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.