How Exercise Helps You Overcome The Blues
The increasing cases of depression affecting individuals of all age groups are a growing concern, especially as the global pandemic brought about significant changes in one’s way of living.
Depression can bring about a variety of negative feelings that can make you feel sad, insecure, anxious, and worthless. Often, the condition can leave you with an overwhelming feeling.
People who experience this, want the distressing feelings to go away, but nothing seems to work. Some often resort to medications to help alleviate depression, but natural ways to minimize the symptoms are available. If you’re considering other options, getting help with depression from a professional would be a good starting point.
One of these natural options is regular physical activity. Making exercise part of your routine may boost your mental health and can be beneficial for individuals experiencing a sudden case of the blues and those diagnosed with clinical depression.
- 1 Getting Started With An Exercise Routine
- 2 How Depression Affects The Brain
- 3 Ways In Which Exercise Can Help Alleviate The Blues
- 4 Final Thoughts
Getting Started With An Exercise Routine
If you want to stay physically active, adults should perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly. When it has been a while since your last physically demanding workout, it’s advisable to start slowly and work your way up to 150 minutes each week. Remember that even minimal activity is better than none. An option you might want to consider is taking a brisk 10-minute walk in your neighborhood or park to help clear your mind.
The type of exercise will depend on your preferences. Consider an activity you can perform regularly. You can start by becoming part of a team sport or being more active during your daily routine by cycling or walking instead of using your car or public transport.
If you’re currently suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder, engaging in physical activity might be the last thing on your mind. However, recent studies show that it may help balance the brain’s chemistry, take your mind off stress, improve your confidence and self-worth and establish a pattern of resilience to help you deal with challenging situations you might face.
How Depression Affects The Brain
Aside from the physical manifestations of depression, mood disorders typically start in the brain. Specific forms of depression can cause the following:
- The shrinking or deterioration of specific areas of the brain such as the thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the frontal and prefrontal cortices
- Inflammation of the brain results in diminished function of the neurotransmitters
- Disrupting the amount of oxygen to the brain causes the brain cells to die
Once you include exercise in your daily routine, it promotes nerve cell growth in certain parts of the brain, minimizes brain inflammation, and improves the amount of oxygen in the brain.
Luckily, the brain can adapt to changes, based on its functions and patterns. While exercising, your brain rewires itself and changes how it operates. If you regularly engage in physical activity, it can minimize some of the effects of depression by increasing your heart rate to allow more oxygen into the brain, establishing new connections in the brain’s cortical regions, reducing the stress hormones, and increasing neurotransmitters.
Ways In Which Exercise Can Help Alleviate The Blues
When you want to continue with your life and intend to overcome the blues one step at a time, it might be time to think about how exercise can help. Here are some of the benefits of regular exercise in helping you overcome the blues.
1. Minimize Stress And Anxiety
Life can be a stressful journey for some, and if you put yourself under constant stress for long periods, it can lead to depression, especially if you’re managing it in an unhealthy manner.
A healthy way to cope is to engage in physical activity, which can be a healthy distraction. Craig Salmon a certified personal trainer with the NASM says. Although exercise will not make the stress vanish from your life, it can provide you with a chance to stop thinking about the negative aspects of your life that feed depression.
While you distract your mind from negativity, your increased activity level reduces the number of stress hormones in your body and releases endorphins which help improve your mood. After a workout, you’ll feel invigorated and may have a better perspective on your situation.
2. Better Sleep At Night
If you’re having a challenging time sleeping comfortably and peacefully at night due to unpleasant or unhappy thoughts that constantly trouble you, exercise might help you sleep better.
When your body gets enough sleep, you’re more likely to feel better throughout the day, which should also minimize any negativity. If you engage in short episodes of physical activity or exercise during the morning, it can significantly help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to work out late afternoons or evenings, consider relaxing exercises such as yoga to promote better sleep.
3. Improve Confidence And Self-worth
When you exercise, it helps in making you feel better about yourself. If you’re feeling down due to depression, you’re likely to feel insecure and worthless. Thoughts might even arise where you feel no one cares about you.
Physical fitness can help boost your self-confidence and once you feel self-assured, you’re less likely to have negative thoughts. Additionally, engaging in exercise will promote the growth of neural connections in your brain, specifically in the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a crucial role in emotional responses and long-term memory.
As your brain memorizes your emotional reactions, it rewires itself to associate various emotions, boosting your confidence and overall sense of self-worth.
4. Provides Opportunities For Social Interaction
Keeping yourself preoccupied with exercise might be a great way to meet and socialize with others. As you go about with your routine, flashing a friendly smile or greeting a neighbor during your morning walk can help uplift your mood.
5. Assist You In Dealing With Challenging Emotions
Engaging in physical activity helps your body establish a better level of flexibility and resilience. Once you have a workout routine to follow, it helps your body get accustomed to the activity even if you feel down and lack the drive to move. Additionally, you’ll eventually learn to stretch your body beyond what you’re used to.
Once you achieve resilience and flexibility, it can be highly beneficial if you’re suffering from depression. Remember that the brain can change how it works depending on the patterns you create. As you continue to engage in physical activity, your brain will continue even if your body starts to get uncomfortable. Over time, the hippocampus memorizes this pattern.
The brain will also learn that your body’s resilience will bring about positive rewards, including endorphins. Once you encounter challenging situations when you’re feeling down, your mind will remember this pattern and start to release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, boosting your drive and motivation.
Depression can be a frustrating and bothersome ordeal for anyone suffering from the condition. If you’re taking medications to alleviate any symptoms, it might be time to consider other options such as exercise. By making any form of physical activity part of your daily routine, you’ll be taking small steps to improve your overall mental health but may help you go through the blues better in the long run.
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