The Covid-19 pandemic has stolen a generous fraction from our lives. It halted the times where we were supposed to be exploring new places and making memories with our friends and family, but as we look a little deeper, we realise that it may have challenged our mental health in ways we never thought of. The long periods we spent indoors alone because of lockdown, isolation and trying to keep others safe may have had a negative impact on our mental health in some ways.
Being away from people has taught us to come up with ways in which we can keep our mind busy; exercise being one. The HelpGuide organisation is one of many useful platforms that outline just how important exercise is for our health in terms of depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, PTSD and trauma, saying that “Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood”. In terms of being a fitness fanatic, this isn’t always necessary. You just need motivation. Here’s what they have outlined.
Exercise and depression:
A recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain; neural growth, reduced inflammation and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Above all, it can serve as a distraction from your busy mind.
Exercise and anxiety:
As a fellow sufferer of anxiety, I’ve practiced various grounding techniques when I suffer under the hands of a panic or anxiety. HelpGuide, along with many other tools, explain how to use some of those grounding techniques where you focus on yourself; notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, the rhythm of your breathing or the feeling of wind on your skin.
Isn’t it better to pay attention to where you are and what you’re doing as opposed to zoning out?
Exercise and stress:
Students are finally back to college now and with this new beginning comes a lot of stress, not just in regards to places opening back up again, but assessments and studying and the thought of future exams. Stress comes in various forms; tense muscles, headaches, insomnia, stomach ache and a tightness in the chest, combine a number of them and you’ll unknowingly create a vicious cycle between your mind and body. Exercising can break this cycle and releases endorphins in the brain and since the body and mind are closely linked, when your body feels better the mind may follow along.
Each and every one of us has been affected by the pandemic in one way or another and with the knowledge we have of ourselves and how we feel on the inside, we need to take that knowledge and apply it to something that may make us feel better. Apply it to something that’ll not only put us on the path to a healthier mindset, but to a path where we feel happy within ourselves for the future to come.