We often talk about how one of the big perks of a regular fitness routine is the positive affect it can have on your mental health and wellbeing. Particularly during this very long and stressful year, taking care of your mental wellbeing is important. Whether you’re in the midst of a bad mental health period or want to implement healthy habits that will help you maintain good mental health, a regular fitness routine is an excellent tool. So how does exercise help your mental wellbeing? Let’s take a look.
During and after you exercise, your brain releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that can improve your mood and happiness post-workout. The endorphin rush doesn’t last forever, which is why incorporating fitness into your lifestyle regularly has the biggest effect on your mood and mental health.
As many students and new parents know, lack of sleep leads to a lack of clear thinking and a big strain on your mood. Sleep is a crucial part of our ability to heal, learn, and function normally. Not getting enough good, deep sleep can have serious effects on your mental health.
Regular exercise can help regulate your circadian rhythm, which controls the cycle of feeling tired and awake inside your body. A hard workout can also leave your muscles and body feeling tired, which can help you settle in to sleep at the end of the day. While exercise is a great tool for regulating your sleep patterns, exercising too late in the day can actually make it more difficult to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure to workout earlier in the day so that your body has time to wind down before bed.
A Healthy Coping Mechanism
Individuals who experience dips in their mental health can feel the effects of life stressors more intensely. When your mental health isn’t in a good place, it becomes much harder to do the everyday adulting things and responsibilities we all have. For many people with mental health conditions, healthy coping mechanisms can be a positive and useful way to navigate stressful situations or emotions.
Exercise is a healthy coping mechanism that can help you process emotions or decisions in a positive way. Exercise can be adapted to suit your energy level, from a walk around your neighborhood to a more intensive weight-lifting session. While a workout likely won’t solve whatever problem you’re facing, moving your body can help you process your thoughts and emotions instead of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like rumination or avoidance.
It’s important to note that exercise can also be an unhealthy coping mechanism when done too frequently, despite injury or pain, or when your body isn’t receiving the proper nutrients and care it needs to heal from regular exercise. Exercise responsibly and do your best to take care of both your body and mind.
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