It’s no secret that exercising has a myriad of health benefits, and it doesn’t just boost your physical health; it is also linked to improving a person’s mental health. Because of this, exercising is a part of maintaining a healthy mentality for many.
However, if a person is already feeling anxious or depressed, it may be hard to bring themselves to exercise, to begin with.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression and would like to integrate exercise into your regular routine to promote your mental health, here are a few ways to help you get started.
Set realistic expectations
Like any illness, mental illnesses are real. You wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon when you have the flu, so why would you expect yourself to go on a five-mile jog while you’re battling a bout of severe depression?
Develop a workout plan that works for you, and if you find that something isn’t quite working, take a step back and change it to better suit your needs.
If you’ve never played the violin before, you can’t expect yourself to be able to play an entire Mozart concerto on your first try – it takes time, patience, and lots of practice. The same goes with exercising.
Start with something simple, like taking a walk. If you’re in a state where you don’t even want to leave the house, walk a few times from the kitchen to the living room. Once you’re ready to head out, you don’t have to go far; walking to the end of your driveway and back or around the block is more than enough.
As you develop an exercise habit, you can always increase the workout, but only do it if you’re ready.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back
Should you find yourself cutting back or taking a small break from workouts, don’t take it out on yourself. Simply do what you need to do.
If that means going back to a more basic workout, do that and work your way back up when you can.
Find something you’re genuinely interested in
One reason people struggle to establish an exercise routine is because they’re not interested in their workout plan.
You don’t have to follow a strict regimen of burpees, press-ups, sit-ups, and so on in order to work out. Instead, find something you want to do, whether that be swimming, running, or walking your dog.
Spend your energy wisely
Lastly, be careful of how you spend your energy. Try to keep your mind focused on the task at hand and try to not let your mind wander off. If you find that it’s difficult to keep your mind off of other things, a good method to use is to keep a journal nearby to write those thoughts down on when you have them. Otherwise, many people try to ‘channel’ those thoughts into energy for their workout.
Also, if you have a busy day ahead, don’t start your day with a vigorous exercise routine. While exercising can build up your energy stores long term, it can deplete your body of energy short-term. Since depression and anxiety can be taxing alone, you’ll want to reserve your energy for what’s ahead.
About Seth Coffing
Seth Coffing is a devoted coach, mentor, and leader with a proven track record. Since high school, he has been accumulating victories in football, basketball, and baseball, and he has continued to do so in his 19-year-long coaching career. Seth Coffing is a team leader adept at working with people of different ages and backgrounds, helping them perform at the highest levels.
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Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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