“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
– Richard Bach
We all face many challenges along our journey toward health. We juggle so many balls in the air that one dropping can throw off our rhythm and send the rest crashing to the ground. We try to set aside time to exercise. We attempt to budget so we can afford healthier groceries and gym memberships. We do our best to get enough sleep and try not to think about the long list of things we have to do the next morning. It is a constant balancing act. Some days we don’t drop a single ball and others we have to start over several times.
As if these challenges aren’t enough there are other hurdles, some of which can derail our efforts in one fell swoop.
Depression and anxiety are very real, and often unspoken parts of many of our lives. When you are burdened with depression or tormented with anxiety, the five or six balls you have to juggle might as well be a thousand. It feels impossible.
What is so important to understand is that physical activity is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. Additionally, current research has revealed that moderate exercise can in fact prevent episodes of depression in the long term.
Here are some examples of how exercise can help.
1. It releases feel-good brain chemicals!
When you exercise you experience an increase in blood flow to the brain and your body releases endorphins (neurotransmitters that are found in the pituitary gland and throughout the nervous system). These are your body’s natural pain relievers/antidepressants that give you a sense of calm and euphoria. Additionally it promotes changes in your brain including neural growth and reduced inflammation.
2. It can help you sleep!
Energy exertion through physical activity can help you feel relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. It can help alleviate stress and clear your head of those nagging and persistent thoughts.
3. It can help you with confidence and self-esteem!
Setting reasonable and achievable fitness goals can help you realize what you are capable of doing. It can be very challenging to find motivation to go for a walk or show up to a fitness class. Each time you do it you can enjoy feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment.
4. It can take your mind off your worries!
Sometimes all you need is a reprieve from your worries. Exercise can refocus you and bring your thoughts back to the present moment.
5. It helps you connect with others and/or nature!
Working out in a group setting can help you connect with other people who are pushing themselves to achieve goals similar to your own. Sharing space with other people in a noncompetitive and safe environment (like Honest) can be very healing. Additionally, taking a walk outside can give you a change of scene and help you relax and absorb the beauty all around you.
6. It is a healthy way to cope!
There are many ways to cope with depression and anxiety. Some will push you deeper down that spiral and others can lift you up. Moving your body can be something you turn to when you don’t know what else to do.
While exercise is only a small piece to a complex puzzle, it can help you cope with the overwhelming symptoms that depression and anxiety bring. Know that you aren’t alone in your struggles as millions of people live with depression and anxiety. Take one day at a time and find a way to move your body whenever you can. Remind yourself of all the ways it can help you take steps toward the place you’d like to be.
Written By Loni Huston-Eizenga
Loni is one of our fabulous, hard working, talented clients here at Honest 🙂 Look forward to reading more from Loni as she is part of our creative blog team! Thanks Loni! Give her some love on the Honest Facebook page HERE.
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