Some pieces of advice stick with you for life. One that I’ve never forgotten came from my Senior High School English teacher: “If you’re ever depressed or anxious or just feeling generally down - get outside and get moving. Even if you can only manage a walk around the block. Just get up and do it”. This has proven invaluable when life has thrown lemons and curve balls my way and I’m so grateful for his taking the time to share this.
There is more and more evidence emerging that shows physical health can have a significant impact on mental health, so here are some ways you can look after your physical self to benefit your mental health:
1. Exercise lifts your mood
The ‘high’ felt after a vigorous workout can be attributed to the chemicals your body releases. There is some conjecture as to whether this is due to endorphins or serotonin and norepinephrine^. While the science is complicated, it’s largely undisputed that exercise is great for boosting your mood.
2. Better sleep for enhanced fortitude
The amount of sleep required to feel properly rested varies from person to person, but it’s no secret that fatigue affects everything from emotion regulation to hunger to concentration to willpower and beyond. Not to mention your mind/body is doing some very important work while you’re “asleep”. Ensuring you get enough quality rest to be able to function well is an often overlooked but critical requirement in today’s hectic world.
3. Self esteem boost
A day spent sitting in front of the TV eating junk food is unlikely to make you feel like you can confidently strut onto the beach in your bathing suit. However maintaining a healthy diet and exercise gives assurance that you are looking after your physical self and is far more likely to give you the mental confidence to support healthy self-esteem levels.
4. Keeping illness and disease at bay
No one enjoys being unwell and unable to take on daily tasks, so when our physical health declines often so does our mood. Regular exercise, good hydration and a balanced diet allows our bodies systems to function properly and sets our body up to be in the best condition possible. Generally the better your health and fitness, the shorter your recovery time will be.
5. Fuelling your body for success
As the saying goes “You are what you eat”. You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in a high performance car and expect it to run record times. Similarly proper hydration what you feed your body and how much you feed your body will largely affect its ability to perform at its best, both physically and mentally.
Investing in your physical health and the resultant mental health benefits builds a strong foundation upon which to build your future success.