Ever hear the saying, "Strength is an inside job"? ICYMI: Making time to regularly exercise your mental health can actually strengthen all aspects of your life.
Get into your head with these 4 mental health workouts.
1. Mindful Walking Meditation
Mindfulness is being aware and conscious of your present state. Learning to stay present with a mindfulness practice can improve sleep, mood, energy, focus, stress and weight management.
Mindfulness walking meditation has a different goal than, say, walking to the store for food. Instead, it’s setting a goal of staying present by noticing your surroundings and paying attention to the sensations of the walk. What do you see, hear, feel or smell? Walking meditation can help you stay mindful and even get some steps in.
Yoga practice does far more than increase flexibility. When stress levels rise, it’s easy to hold your breath or not get full inhalations and exhalations. Limited breathing can exacerbate stress and become a learned automatic response. Yoga breathing slows the breath down, allows for fuller inhalations and exhalations, and signals the brain to relax. Putting breath to movement, as in Vinyasa yoga, can help you gain a sense of calm and centeredness. Practicing yoga is just as important for your health as signing up for spin class.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
In the middle of a stress tornado, sometimes all you want is the ability to relax ASAP. Unfortunately, a frazzled nervous system can’t calm down with a flick of a switch. In order to prevent the escalation of stressful reactions to situations, teach your body how to progressively relax. PMR often involves tensing and relaxing muscles from a supine position. Inhale when you tense up, and exhale when you let go. Begin at the lower extremities and work your way up.
4. Nature Trek
Taking regular detours out of urban life into nature can help improve symptoms of stress and even athletic performance. Check out AllTrails.com or your local city guide for a list of trails. Nowhere near the woods? Studies show that regularly walking through green space, parks, a greenhouse or even a zoo can offer similar benefits.
Exercising your mental health motivates you to feel stronger in every aspect of your life. Take 30-60 minutes 1-2 times every week to train your brain to become stronger from the inside out.