The state of one’s mental health is a complex system to understand, and when it suffers, it can sometimes be a difficult and tedious process to get out of.
Just as we need to take care of our physical health, it is important to invest time in improving and maintaining our mental health. But what does that mean?
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how we think, feel, and behave.
The term “mental health” covers a wide scope of experiences that can range from mild anxiety to a major depressive episode or even a life-threatening condition like schizophrenia. Most of us feel “off” at times. When these feelings linger for weeks or months at a time or are so severe that they interfere with our ability to function in daily life, it may be time to seek help.
Mental health can be seen as a continuum, where an individual’s mental health may have many different possible values. Mental wellness is generally viewed as a positive attribute, even if the person does not have any diagnosed mental health condition.
This definition of mental health highlights emotional well-being, the capacity to live a full and creative life, and the flexibility to deal with life’s inevitable challenges. Some discussions are formulated in terms of contentment or happiness.
Many therapeutic systems and self-help books offer methods and philosophies espousing strategies and techniques vaunted as effective for further improving mental wellness. Positive psychology is increasingly prominent in mental health.
Did you know that mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being? It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Keeping on top of your mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.
What Is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work, or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed in a number of different ways, including exercise.
Despite many effective treatments, there’s still a lot of misinformation about mental illnesses. This may lead people to avoid getting treatment that could help them feel better. Many people never seek treatment because they don’t know where to turn for help.
They may not realize that their symptoms are treatable. Or they may feel ashamed because of the stigma sometimes attached to mental illness. Understanding more about mental illnesses — what causes them and what they look like — can help you recognize signs and symptoms in yourself or others so you can improve.
Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work, or in relationships.
Mental health professionals have developed screening tools to help identify potential mental illnesses. These screening instruments are not diagnostic tests but are intended to flag possible problems for further evaluation.
Can Exercise Improve My Mental Health?
It’s not just about the endorphins.
Exercise has long been linked to better mental health, but the brain-body connection works both ways. Not only can your mental health affect your exercise performance, but the effects of exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Exercise does much more than burn calories and tone muscles. It is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more.
It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference.
No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.
Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases the production of cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. Exercise training increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory.
There’s a lot of research supporting the benefits of exercise. It can help both physical and mental health, and it’s something you can do right now to boost your mood.
A recent study found that people who exercised regularly — dancing, swimming, cycling, exercise therapy, or doing yoga — were 25 percent less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t.
Exercise has also been shown to help people with mild to moderate depression. One study found that adding aerobic exercise to treatment improved results for people taking antidepressant medication. Another found that exercise worked just as well as antidepressants for some people.
And there are many more studies showing the positive effects of exercise on mental health.
Try Exercise Therapy For Mental Health
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, exercise can help. You may have heard that aerobic exercise and resistance training are good for your physical health, but you might not know that they’re beneficial for mental health, too.
Both aerobic exercise — like running or swimming — and strength training boost brain chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to that of morphine.
Aerobic exercise and strength training also improves the effects of helpful brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and serotonin that are related to a good mood.
Exercise also stimulates the release of a compound called Brain-Derived Neuropathic Factor (BDNF), which helps improve memory and learning. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, and studies have shown that people with depression have smaller hippocampi compared to people without depression.
Researchers at UC Irvine found that this is reversed with exercise. It’s possible that exercise may be able to reverse hippocampal shrinkage caused by stress-induced cortisol levels.
New research is showing that regular exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Experts say it’s important to find an activity you enjoy because you are more likely to stick with it.
- Exercise reduces stress.
- Exercise improves mood.
- Exercise improves sleep.
- Exercise boosts self-esteem.
- Exercise is a distraction from worries, fears, and negative thoughts.
Exercise promotes neural growth and reduces inflammation in the brain, which both contribute to better mental health.
If you’re unsure of where or how to get started, consider giving Exerpy a try. Exerpy provides you with a details exercise program that will undoubtedly get the endorphins flowing in your brain, and these will boost your mood.