The holidays are here and for many, it's a time of happiness and rejoicing. But for some people, it can be a period of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Even people who love the holidays can experience the blues during this busy season. Now more than ever, it's important to focus on mental health. There are many ways to do this, seeing a therapist, reducing stressors, meditating...and even working out! Building a strong body is beneficial to building a strong mind. Being physically active has been proven to build mental strength. Let's take a look at the science behind it!
Exercise builds resilience
Exercise can help you build a lot of muscle—but it can also help you build resilience. Regular exercise may actually change the way your brain responds to stress—increasing resilience and better equipping you to deal with any stressors that may come your way.
Exercise improves your mood
Exercise produces a variety of “feel good” neurotransmitters and hormones (including dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins), which can deliver a major boost to your mood. So, next time you find yourself in a bad mood try hitting the gym & getting your sweat on!
Exercise increases self-esteem
One major element of being mentally strong is feeling good about who you are. A great way to increase self-esteem and start feeling better about yourself—fitness. Research has found that exercise can have a positive effect on self-esteem. So, if you have moments where you struggle with challenging feelings about yourself (and, let’s face it—who doesn’t?), staying consistent with a workout routine will push your self-esteem in the right direction.
Exercise can help to inspire better habits
Exercise is one of the best habits you can cultivate for your health—both mental and physical. But exercise isn’t just a good habit in itself; if you get into the habit of regular exercise, it can actually help you cultivate other good habits—and help make you a happier, healthier person all-around. If you don’t regularly exercise, and then change that behavior and get into an exercise routine, that one change can have a domino effect, inspiring changes to other areas of your life. For example, as you get into the habit of exercising, you might also start eating better, curb your screen time, or start meditating—even if changing your diet, limiting your TV time, or learning to meditate weren’t your original goals.
Exercise can build a sense of community
Team or group training can take many forms: meeting a buddy at the gym, taking a group fitness class, or working out as part of a team in a small class or group challenge. No matter what it looks like for you, it offers the benefit of being part of something bigger than yourself. Not only does working out with others create accountability but it also builds community. We are social beings and a sense of community is critical for us to thrive, especially for someone with mental illness who is already experiencing the common symptoms of loneliness and isolation. Having a strong community builds a sense of belonging, support, and purpose!
Now that you know exactly how working on your physical strength can make you mentally strong, all that’s left to do? Get out there and make exercise a priority—and become stronger, mentally and physically, in the process.