When you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, it may feel more as if you’re under some kind of curse than an illness. While you know deep-down that therapy and any medications you may have been prescribed will be of long-term benefit, there are days when you just can’t look at the big picture. Instead, you need something guaranteed to help you NOW.
While not a miracle cure, there is something capable of helping lift you out of those darkest moments — if you can force yourself to quite literally put one foot in front of the other, you may find that exercise is the key to healing yourself. The American Psychological Association says that exercise not only works as a natural mood booster, but can help reduce the “fight or flight” feelings that anxiety sufferers know so well. And a study whose findings were published in Human Movement (via ResearchGate) found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week significantly reduced both depression and anxiety.
If you feel that you are able to get yourself out of the house to hit the gym a few times a week or even join a sports league, good for you! If these seem like insurmountable challenges at this point, though, that’s ok. The following exercises can be performed solo, many of them from the privacy of your own living room.
One of the easiest exercises to get started with is walking. Everyday Health recommends going for a walk as a great natural remedy to help combat depression. Although yes, walking will require you to get out of the house (unless you have a really big yard), a change of scenery might do you some good, as well. And you can always time your walks for early morning or evening hours when you are less likely to run into other people if you’re not feeling any too sociable.
Should you have excess energy to burn, you could even try working your way up from a walk to a run. A “runner’s high” is a very real phenomenon, one that occurs when your brain releases a rush of endorphins in response to the level of exertion you reach while running, and endorphins are such a powerful feel-good chemical that they can manage to decrease not only physical but even emotional pain.
While you may think for yoga as being something that you have to take a class for — and it does help to have some instruction with some of the more pretzel-like poses – there’s no reason you can’t get your yoga instruction via YouTube and thus avoid any fear of being judged for your lack of skill or unfashionable attire. Instead, you can just focus on your mind/body connection, and know that by strengthening the one, you’re strengthening the other. Not only does Harvard Health Publishing indicate that regularly doing yoga helps you to relax and de-stress, but Everyday Health reveals that there is a body of research showing yoga practice can help to relieve symptoms of depression, PTSD, and even schizophrenia.
Taking up weightlifting doesn’t mean you’re going to wind up looking like a Terminator-era Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, if it’s your goal to bench press 500 pounds, we certainly salute you, but you also stand to gain from a workout with far lighter dumbbells (or even household objects). Studies have found that lifting weights helps to relieve depression, perhaps because, as clinical psychologist Leslie Seppinni told Everyday Health, “Strength training is about mastery and control.” She says that it requires your full concentration, which is a good thing, since if you’re focused on lifting that means your brain isn’t running around like a squirrel trapped in a cage of worries and sorrow. Weightlifting also has tangible rewards in the form of muscles you can see forming and increased strength you can feel.
Of all of the exercises on the list, swimming is the one that is most likely to require you to get out of the house and go to some sort of public venue, at least unless you are fortunate enough to have a pool of your own or easy access to a swimmable pond, lake, or river. (And also that it’s summertime, or that your pool is a heated indoor one!) Still, if you can manage to out forth the effort to make it to the pool, your efforts are sure to be rewarded. Just Swim uncovered the fact that 1.4 million adults in the UK say that swimming has significantly reduced their symptoms of depression or anxiety, and that nearly half a million with diagnosed mental disorders say that their need for professional help has been reduced due to their having taken up swimming.
They do advise some caution, however, if being underwater is likely to trigger panic attacks, and also says that those experiencing social anxiety may prefer to swim at a time of day when the pool is likely to be less crowded. Anyone taking meds is also advised to consult with their doctor as to whether there are any precautions regarding swimming while under the influence of that particular medication.
Source: Read Full Article