Friday, April 26, 2013

Exercise as therapy

I am in the process of making and experiences some major changes in my life. The biggest one is a cross country move this summer. As you all can imagine, stress & anxiety are naturally a bit higher than normal despite the fact that this is something that my family & I have planned & prepped to do for years! I am even working more hours than usual these days just to add extra funds to help with the transition. When stress is high, for me, do you know what is the one thing besides LOTS of prayer that I require...EXERCISE!

Over the years and along with my job as a nurse, I have discovered that exercise is the best thing to help me cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. As I mentioned in my introduction, my decision to get healthier was due to my career choice and because I knew that nursing school & then the job would be more mentally & physically demanding. I am so thankful that there was information out there over the years that documented the benefits of exercise as a means to combat stress, anxiety, and depression. Disclaimer time: not everyone will be cured from mental health ailments with an exercise regimen, but I discovered that if you are suffering with a mild form of the blues & should, definitely, give exercise a try as opposed to immediately seeking medication or even therapy. Exercise can cost less & not be as time consuming as therapy sessions.

Knowledge helps us stay powerful! I want everyone to be powerful & make good choices. So, here is just a tiny bit of easy science to support my claim. Exercise can release neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good! It is endorphins that are also released when we eat sweets. This could explain why a gallon of our favorite ice cream feels so good after a bad day. It is possible to have that same desire for exercise to help you release the stress of a bad day. I like ice cream, but I would choose a good run over ice cream any day! It is a no brainer, for me, because exercise is not only going to make me feel better, but benefits my overall health. Ice cream...does not have all the perks of exercise! We also all have to learn to during this journey of having a healthy lifestyle how to cope with bad days & stress. Exercising as opposed to eating junk food and sweets is a better and healthier coping mechanism.

There is nothing more tangible other than pounding my feet on the pavement during an awesome run that makes me feel more in control of my life when everything feels out of my control. I feel like a strong exercise regimen has benefited my mental health more than my physical health even though I have lost a significant amount of weight over the years. As I post this blog today, I want to emphasize and make you aware that while there are several physical benefits to exercising maybe the motivation to develop a good exercise regimen could be to help your mental health. This was my main motivation when I started my healthier lifestyle journey 7 years ago. There is so much more to us than what we and others see on the outside. I hope you not only care about your physical health, but be sure to care and take care of your mental health!

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