Exercise is a crucial aspect of a fit and healthy lifestyle, and while most of us are aware of its numerous benefits to the body, its impact on the mental aspects of our health is yet to be explored further. We know that exercise can make you feel energized and active, while also being relaxing, but did you know that it also builds mental resilience?
Understanding mental resilience
Mental resilience from exercise is distinct from mental calmness or relaxation that one experiences through continued exercise. While it is true that both contribute to our overall well-being, mental resilience serves a unique purpose. Discourse on the mind-body connection often revolves around the result of a successful, complete workout rather than what one goes through while performing the exercise and that makes all the difference.
Exercise challenges us to follow a structured plan, endure physical pain and discomfort and tackle the adversities that come in the way of achieving our goals. It requires us to be tenacious, and at the same time adaptable. No exercise plan can be accomplished without a “never give up” attitude, which is crucial to mental resilience, which pushes us to fight our inner battles and manage our concerns better.
Mind-Body connection from the lens of resilience
Before diving into the unique ways through which exercise builds mental resilience, let’s acknowledge the direct physical ways through which it creates the platform for mental improvement. Exercise is known to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins which significantly impacts our mood and our ability to maintain cognitive function. It facilitates increased blood flow and promotes good sleep. All these factors give us a head start to focus on our mental health goals and build resilience.
Reducing stress to build endurance
Exercise has shown to reduce stress in many different ways. Firstly, it is an outlet to release your tension and get your mind off your struggles. Further, through the production of endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters. Stress often leads you to worry, especially at night, reducing sleep.
Exercises can ensure your sleep patterns are organized, lowering the chances of anxiety episodes. Stress is also often caused due to challenges that come from the workplace or academics, often performance related. Accomplishing your exercise goals gives you the confidence to stay focused, build endurance and tackle your problems step by step.
Importance of self-esteem
One of the key aspects of why mental health concerns are so debilitating is that it affects our interest in activities, our productivity, our personal and professional progress and possibly our relationships. Exercise provides us a way to bring back that self-esteem that mental health issues can lower over time.
With every grueling workout or sporting session, we are reminded that we have what it takes to overcome challenges. Remember that regular workouts also bring positive outlooks towards our own body image and self-perceptions, which can drastically impact how we approach our mental health.
Sharing can go a long way
Mental health is complex, and while we often don’t ourselves know the nature and intensity of our own issues, sharing it with others is a challenge of its own. Due to social stigma and fear of judgment, we understandably hold ourselves back from discussing it with others. And while exercises cannot influence how those around us feel about mental health, the increased confidence and sense of self-worth that exercise provides might just be the push we need to open up our struggles, whether it is with a close friend or with a mental health professional.
The power of self-discipline
Most mental health recovery or treatment programmes focus on a plan that combines professional expertise and self-care. While some go through issues more severe than others, our ability to follow a routine and work towards rewiring our brain’s patterns, our emotional responses to triggers among many other aspects of mental health is crucial for better mental well-being. Exercise in its core focuses on discipline and organization, two things that go a long way in fighting back our troubles. That said, remember that your perhaps previous lack of discipline is not the cause of your mental health struggles, and that this is merely one of the ways to cope with it effectively.
You’re used to challenges
While the nature of challenges in physical and mental health are not directly comparable, it takes a large amount of perseverance, decision making and dealing with discomfort and adversity to achieve goals in either sphere. Exercise requires us to be patient, to never lose track of our goals, and push forward, despite any setbacks. While compounding challenges of achieving mental and physical goals may seem daunting at first, remember that the outcomes are positive, and working towards one is often a fuel to achieve the other.
Don’t stop working on yourself
Whether the objective is to maintain strong mental health or fight against your existing condition, exercise has shown to be the right kind of healthy boost your body and mind needs to be resilient in the face of distress. Having understood the links between the mind and the body, let us ensure to effectively apply and share our self-discipline, confidence and endurance from one aspect of health to the other.