6 Daily Exercises to Improve Your Mental Health
When you hear the term “self-care,” it’s common to think about diet, exercise, and other components of good physical health. But what should you be doing to take care of your psychological well-being? Are there exercises for mental health?
Why Is Focusing on Mental Health So Important?
You brush your teeth, get annual checkups, and watch what you eat. You change the oil in your car and have the tires rotated. Or, you regularly cut the lawn, fertilize your garden, and prune the hedges.
You clearly understand the importance of regular maintenance. So why aren’t you paying similar attention to your mental health?
When you incorporate mental health maintenance into your daily routine, you will be better prepared to respond to the many challenges life throws your way. You will also be more likely to appreciate the moments of joy and beauty that occur as well. And if you begin to struggle with a mental health concern, you will be ready to take the steps you need to protect your psychological well-being.
Exercises to Help Improve Your Overall Mental Health
There are many exercises and activities that can help you improve your mental health.
Some exercises for mental health involve equipment that you need to buy or rent, while others require no investment beyond your time and effort. Some can be relatively intense, while others place no demands on your body. In addition, some can be easily completed on your own, while others are best done with a partner or as part of a group.
In other words, regardless of your financial status, physical capabilities, or proximity to others, you can find an exercise to boost your mental health. And with such a wide range of options, you can try a few until you find one (or more) that you truly enjoy. When you look at an exercise as an opportunity to have fun, rather than a task to be endured, you will be much more likely to make it a regular part of your life.
Here are just a few of the many beneficial exercises for mental health:
Meditation has been associated with several mental health benefits. People who meditate on a regular basis have reported lower stress levels, diminished anxiety, improved quality of sleep, and a greater capacity for tolerance and creativity.
One of the many reasons why meditation is often included on lists of best exercises for mental health is that it is free, simple, accessible to people of all ages and mobility levels, and can be done virtually anywhere.
Listening to Music
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reports listening to music, writing songs, and playing an instrument can be excellent exercises for mental health. Music can ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also help people process trauma and grief. When you listen to music, you may find yourself becoming calmer, centered, and present in the moment.
Solving a Puzzle
Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, and other activities that involve solving problems can be valuable exercises for mental health.
- In addition to easing stress and promoting healthy brain activity, working a crossword puzzle can also boost your memory and expand your vocabulary.
- Putting a jigsaw puzzle together can be a form of meditation (which we discussed earlier on this page). Jigsaw puzzles are also good for short-term memory and spatial reasoning.
- Sudoku can help with memory, concentration, logical thinking, and improved mood.
Going for a Walk
Making a habit of taking regular walks can be a great way to ease your mind and diminish stress. It has also been linked to improved sleep, which is vital for maintaining your mental health. Additional mental health benefits of walking can include:
- Opportunities to socialize
- Healthy distraction from negative thoughts
- Better self-esteem
- Elevated mood
Riding a Bike
Cycling offers many of the same types of benefits as walking. It gets you out of the house, which promotes socialization and prevents you from becoming isolated. It can reduce stress and symptoms of depression. When you are on your bike, you need to be present, alert, and aware of your surroundings. This can be a valuable distraction from stress, worry, and other negative thoughts.
Riding a bike doesn’t make the problems in your life disappear, but it can give you the time, energy, and perspective you need to prevent these problems from exerting undue influence.
Yoga promotes a healthy mind-body connection. When you practice yoga, you need to be focused and present. As is the case with several of the other suggestions in this list of exercises for mental health, yoga can be a type of meditation that promotes a sense of mindfulness and serenity. Yoga can also alleviate stress-related muscle tension.
Research indicates that yoga promotes the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with reward, pleasure, and other positive emotions.
Resources to Help Your Mental Health
One of the most important lessons you can learn about maintaining your mental health is that you don’t have to do it all on your own. If you’re looking for resources to support your mental health, here are a few excellent places to start:
- Consult with your family doctor.
- Make an appointment with a therapist or counselor.
- Visit the websites of reputable organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Find mental health advocacy organizations or support groups in your community.
- Build a personal support network with close friends and trusted family members.
If you think you need a higher level of care than you can get from an outpatient therapist or counselor, contact Montare Behavioral Health. We can assess your needs and help you find the treatment that’s right for you.
Begin Mental Health Treatment in California
Exercises for mental health are always a good idea. But sometimes self-care isn’t enough to overcome a mental health challenge. If you or someone that you care about have been struggling with the symptoms of a mental health disorder, the Montare Behavioral Health team is here for you. Our center in Southern California offers comprehensive care for adults who have developed anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and many other concerns. Contact us today to learn how we can help.