One of the main roles of a counsellor is to improve a client’s emotional well-being. When counselling an individual, three key questions are often raised: Is your diet nutritious and balanced? Are you getting enough sleep? And are you regularly exercising? All three factors contribute to good health and in this blog post our intern Chloe, will be zooming in on the role of exercise. More specifically she will be considering its impact on our mental state. Not only does exercise help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, and improve your memory, but it also has a powerful impact on your mind. Chloe will be discussing how this is the case as well as providing some tips to make it more enjoyable and accessible to you.
One well-known impact of exercise is that it releases two key feel-good hormones: endorphins and serotonin. Produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland, endorphins help boost mood by reducing the feeling of pain and enhancing pleasure. At the same time, serotonin helps maintain emotions of happiness and thus reduces the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety. Therefore, regular exercise increases your self-esteem and sense of resilience. In addition to this, challenging your body to new levels and learning skills, contributes to improved self-confidence. This is because you in control and accomplished. Furthermore, it maintains cortisol levels which as a result controls your mood and makes you feel calm and relaxed. Overall regular movement works wonders when you have a lot on your mind, and it gives you a break from overwhelming thoughts.
Rather than seeing exercise as a chore or something we feel like we must do, we should see it as a choice that benefits our mental health. Understanding its positive effect on the mind and overcoming some of the barriers I am about to discuss, exercise will become more enjoyable and adaptable.
- Enjoyment- Exercising in a way that feels boring and monotonous is not maintainable. Switching up your workouts every week/month can make it more exciting. For example, one week you could go for a run, the next a swim and maybe some yoga from home. Experiment with different sports and classes – you might be surprised at what you find fun.
- Motivation– You may find it difficult to start or encourage yourself to exercise. To overcome this, you could make it a social activity by doing it with a friend or joining a class. This also improves social skills or creates a sense of community which will likely elevate your emotional well-being more.
- Money– A common misconception is that you need to have a gym membership to reap the benefits. This is not true as there are plenty of free on-demand workout videos as well as local running clubs- all of which have the same emotional effect. Exercising from home or in your local area is also likely to save time if this is another hurdle.
- Time– Many individuals with demanding jobs, parental roles and busy schedules find it difficult to make time for themselves. If possible, you could try swapping your route to work for a walk/ cycle. Alternatively, you could use weekends as a time for some movement or make it a family activity.
- Starting- For someone who hasn’t exercised in a while or finds it too challenging, you can experiment with low-impact training. This could be a small walk or simple stretching and breathwork. Even 5-10 minutes a few times a day makes a difference.
Most importantly, make sure you move your body in a way that feels good for you and don’t overdo it. Take the time for yourself and enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, just a little each day/week to improve your own mind and put you at ease.
Exercising is a fantastic way to reduce negative feelings however it is not always the main solution. If you feel like you would like someone to talk to and think counselling might help, then don’t hesitate contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org