How to Combine Exercise and Mental Health
When you look up ways to improve your mental health, exercise tends to be at the top of the list. Why is that? The benefits of exercise on mental health have been extensively researched and documented, making fitness one of the best ways to naturally manage mental illness.
When you think about how exercise can benefit your mental health, it’s a good idea to first examine what ways you would like it to improve your well-being. Just like you set goals for your physical fitness, it can help to have benchmarks for your mental health and exercise as well.
How Exercise Improves Your Mental Health
While some therapists incorporate exercise into treatment for their clients, it is still largely overlooked or forgotten by people. Because our mental health all happens internally, it’s understandable that you focus more on how you feel inside than what you’re doing physically.
However, the benefits of exercise in therapy can include:
- • More stable moods.
- • Less anxiety.
- • Better sleep.
- • Reduced depression symptoms.
- • A healthy emotional outlet for stress, anger and anxiety.
- • Build exposure to triggering physical sensations like a racing heart.
Ways to Incorporate Exercise into Your Mental Health Self-Care
The first thing to do is identify your goals and fitness level. If you are a beginner, then you likely won’t want to sign up for a HIIT class right away. Instead, low-impact exercises like yoga and light cardio could be a good way to ease into fitness.
It’s also beneficial to ask yourself what your body feels during exercise. For example, you may find swimming to be freeing and enjoyable while jogging makes you feel overworked and exhausted. Follow your body’s messages, and focus on doing what feels good rather than what “looks like” exercise.
You should also collaborate with a therapist to discuss ways physical activity could benefit your mental health. Working out for 30 minutes a day could also become part of your depression or anxiety treatment; you may keep a mood journal that charts how you feel before and after exercise, as well as the impact your fitness has on the severity of your symptoms.
Learn How to Combine Exercise and Mental Health With the Professionals
Caring Heart Counseling believes that good mental health is a full body experience. No matter what your fitness level or personal background may be, you can discover how to build a lifestyle that promotes good feelings as much as it reduces bad ones.
Contact us today to learn more about our therapy in Black Hawk, CO, and surrounding areas. You can also message us with any questions or book a virtual session with one of our counselors.
Friendships / Relationships
Mental Health Therapy for Loneliness
Someone can have many friends, know people everywhere they go and even be in a loving relationship and still feel lonely from time to time. Loneliness is often a sign that we need to reconnect with ourselves, especially if we already have an established support system in real life.
Sometimes, loneliness can also be a wake-up call that we’ve outgrown our current friend group or relationships. Ongoing feelings of loneliness can also be linked to mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
For some people, when they feel lonely, reaching out to a friend or family member helps the feeling pass. But if you struggle with feelings of loneliness most of the time and aren’t sure what to do, therapy can help.
Is There Therapy for Loneliness?
Therapy in and of itself can help combat loneliness as you are able to connect with your counselor. They listen to you, take interest in your feelings and help you begin to explore the role that loneliness has in your life and how it is affecting your well-being. In many cases, loneliness comes from self-isolation, which is a coping mechanism many people adopt when they’re suffering from other mental health symptoms.
Feeling lonely is complicated, and you may even feel guilty for your feelings if you have other people you could talk to. But loneliness has nothing to do with your love for your friends and family. Certain relationships in your life may simply be lacking in ways you need to feel fulfilled; you could also be going through a difficult period and not feel like anyone understands you.
Talk therapy explores loneliness to get to the underlying cause. How is it serving you, and what is it protecting you from? Sometimes, isolation and loneliness serve as barricades to connection when you are afraid of vulnerability or intimacy. Therapy helps you identify beliefs and behaviors that might be making your loneliness worse and replace them with healthy alternatives.
How to Cope With Loneliness
Loneliness can trigger other feelings too, including worthlessness, hopelessness and despair. For someone struggling with depression, loneliness can worsen their symptoms and even lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. The most important thing to do is recognize you’re lonely and acknowledge that feeling. Rather than try to suppress or ignore it, think of loneliness as a messenger that you need to connect.
Engage in meaningful activities with others; if you are trying to make friends, then you may have to start with smaller engagements. Even smiling at the barista or drinking your coffee at the cafe around others can be helpful. It’s also important to look for new opportunities to meet people. You can do this in person and through online communities.
It’s also important to address how your beliefs affect your idea of loneliness. Someone with social anxiety likely sees themself as shy and awkward, which makes them less likely to socialize with other people. If you don’t trust easily or have a hard time getting close to others, then you may have habits that make forming relationships a challenge for you.
You May Feel Lonely, But You Are Not Alone
At Caring Heart Counseling, we are always here to listen and help. Reaching out to a therapist for the first time can be scary, but we are available to answer any questions you have. Contact us today and learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.