Exercise is another way to help manage feelings of depression and anxiety. Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout the week can improve your mood and alleviate tension caused by stress. Exercise can also help prevent feelings of depression and anxiety during difficult times in your life by not letting stress build up until it becomes overwhelming.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research suggests that exercising 30 minutes for three to five days a week can significantly improve symptoms of depression. Actually, even as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day can improve your mood. It is understandable that when you’re feeling down, getting up and exercising is probably the last thing you want to do. But, if you can push yourself to do a little each day, you may start feeling better. Examples of exercise activities could include walking or running, swimming, cycling, joining a gym, or joining a group sport.
The reasons why exercise is beneficial with depression and anxiety is not completely clear. However, there is some evidence showing that exercise affects certain chemicals in the brain that are associated with mood. It also relieves stress by releasing muscle tension as well as reducing stress hormones in your body. Exercise not only has physiological effects that decrease symptoms of depression but it can also offer a distraction from difficult aspects of your life, build confidence and self-worth, and encourage you to spend time with others.
Here are some tips to sticking with an exercise routine:
- Identify types of exercise or activities that you find enjoyable. Think of an activity that you are likely to participate in and can look forward to doing. Sometimes getting motivated can be difficult, so finding an activity that you enjoy is important.
- Set reasonable goals. Especially when you’re first starting to develop your exercise routine, it’s important that you start small. Try not to make goals that are too difficult to accomplish. You can start with just 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes over time.
- Reward yourself. Getting motivated to exercise when you’re feeling depressed is tough. Give yourself rewards throughout the week when you accomplish your goals.
Along with getting restful sleep, exercising can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. Exercise is just one of various ways to improve your mood and manage stress. If you are regularly exercising and still feel depressed or anxious, it may be necessary to also see a therapist. Therapy can offer you more tools to deal with feelings of depression as well as address what is causing these feelings. Using a well-rounded approach to treatment can bring more health and well-being into your life.