Flex Your Mind, Pump Up Your Mood
Unleash the Power of Your Body and Brain to Boost Your Mental Health
Can you believe Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to a close? I can’t, but here's the thing: mental health doesn't end just because the month does! During this month, our team has spent the past few weeks immersing ourselves in the exploration of our minds and delving into the vast landscape of our own personal mental well-being. And today, we're going to wrap up our journey with a bang by shedding light on the amazing benefits we found of moving our bodies and exercising our brains. So, fasten your seatbelts because we're about to embark on a fun and informative journey to discover the winning duo for mental health!
You’ve Got to Move it, Move it!
Have you ever experienced that exhilarating moment when your favorite song comes on, and you find yourself unable to resist breaking into dance? I know I can’t! Well, prepare to be delighted because dancing isn't just for fun — it’s also a fantastic way to boost your mental health! Let’s explore how.
The Happy Chemical Factory:
1. When you engage in physical exercise, your brain releases a flood of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, commonly known as the "happy chemicals." These little guys work together to enhance your mood, reduce stress, and promote an overall sense of well-being. Moving your body takes these happy chemicals to a whole new level. How you ask? Moving your body combines the joy of movement with the power of music, stimulating both your body and mind simultaneously. Whether you sway, stretch, or engage in another form of physical activity that brings you joy, your brain experiences a delightful symphony of neurotransmitters, amplifying the positive effects on your mental health.
2. Exercise acts as a natural stress buster! By getting your heart rate up, you're signaling your body to release tension and anxiety. It's like taking a mini-vacation from the worries of life while you jog, swim, or dance your heart out. Not only does physical activity provide a refreshing escape, but it also allows you to focus on the present moment, shifting your attention away from stressors and providing a much-needed mental respite.
Body Confidence Boost:
3. As Tove Lo said, ‘now if we’re talking body, you got a perfect one.’ Aka, we better be talking positively if we’re discussing anything about our body, and if you aren’t, it’s easy to get there! With regular physical activity and positive talk. Regular physical activity can do wonders for your confidence and overall mental health. Now this goes beyond achieving a specific body type; it's about embracing the strength and resilience of your own body, and feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin. Easier said than done, but seriously! As you engage in a regular exercise routine, you'll witness, as I did, the transformative effects it has on both your physical and mental well-being. You'll become more aware of your body's capabilities, gradually pushing boundaries, and achieving personal milestones. This sense of accomplishment and newfound self-assurance will radiate into other aspects of your life, empowering you to face challenges with a positive mindset. So, take a moment before you move on to the next portion of this blog and celebrate. Celebrate your uniqueness and celebrate embracing a positive talk journey to help boost your confidence. (And if you need more…go power stance in the mirror and tell yourself your body is a powerful vessel and that you’re amazing!).
Exercise Your Brain, Grow Your Mind!
We've tackled the benefits of moving our bodies and what it can do for us, but what about exercising our brains?
1. Just as our muscles need regular exercise to stay strong, our brains thrive off of regular mental challenges to stay sharp. If you are anything like me, one of my top five strengths is ‘learner,’ and if it didn’t come with debt, I would have stayed in school forever to keep learning, but instead, I learned to channel my inner Belle and dive deep into books. Engaging in activities that stimulate our brains, such as puzzles, reading, or learning a new skill, can improve memory, cognitive abilities, and overall brain function. It’s an exciting chance to discover what truly captivates your mind. So, take some time to find what works for you and your brain, and perhaps learn something new along the way – maybe a new language!?
Neuroplasticity at Its Best:
2. Neuroplasticity, at its best, showcases the extraordinary adaptability of our brains, as they possess the remarkable ability to reorganize, form new connections, and even compensate for areas that may be compromised. This phenomenon allows for profound transformations in our cognitive abilities and opens doors to personal growth and learning throughout our lives. And if you are anything like me, I love to learn so I am here for this! By actively engaging in activities that promote neuroplasticity, such as learning new skills (this summer, this former college softball athlete is learning how to train her body to switch up her bat swing to a golf swing), embracing novel experiences (don’t be afraid to just go!), and challenging ourselves intellectually, we harness the full potential of our brain's plasticity and embark on a journey of continuous growth and development.
The Zen of Mindfulness:
3. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help calm the mind and cultivate a sense of inner peace. By training our minds to focus on the present moment, we can reduce anxiety, increase self-awareness, and improve overall mental resilience. Check out our blog from last week for more tips about mindfulness.
The Power of the Dynamic Duo
Now that we've explored the benefits of moving our bodies and exercising our brains, it's time to unveil the power of their combination. By combining physical activity and mental stimulation, we create a dynamic duo that boosts mood, reduces stress, enhances cognitive abilities, and cultivates mental resilience. Let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we?
Double Dose of Mood Boost:
1. Engaging in physical exercise and mental stimulation together can create a powerful synergy that amplifies the benefits. Picture this: You're out for a jog while listening to an audiobook, absorbing both the positive effects of physical activity and the mental stimulation from the story—double the happiness, double the power!
Stress Defense Tag Team:
2. When faced with stress, combining physical activity with mental exercises can create a potent defense mechanism. Engaging in an intense workout while practicing mindfulness techniques can help you manage stress more effectively, creating a strong shield for your mental well-being.
A Recipe for Long-Term Mental Fitness:
3. Incorporating regular physical exercise and mental stimulation into your lifestyle is like investing in your long-term mental fitness. These habits become part of your self-care routine, supporting your overall mental well-being and resilience for the challenges life may throw your way. And we all know life loves to throw challenges our way when we least expect it to – by taking on some of these tips; you’ll be better prepared to kick those challenges booty!
Whether you're dancing, solving puzzles, or engaging in mindfulness, keep exploring new ways that help you nurture your mental well-being. Pro tip: remember mental health is a constant work in progress, and every small step counts.
Stay happy, stay healthy, and keep flexing both your body and mind!