October 25, 2015

Using Exercise To Fight Depression & Anxiety

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Exercise, the magic pill

I have talked quite a bit about the importance of physical exercise on strong emotional health. I firmly believe movement and physical exercise are necessary components to a good body image as well as to optimizing a whole sense of self, not to mention the benefits of decreasing anxious and depressive emotions. As one of my clients likes to say, exercise is the magic pill. It won't cure everything, but it will make many things in your life more bearable.

Exercise is a great coping mechanism for dealing with all of the garbage and stress that life will throw your way. I have had clients who struggled with anxiety who were able to control their anxiety with daily exercise instead of anti-anxiety meds. I have been amazed at the results.

Do something that motivates YOU

It is important to find a type of exercise that you don't mind doing, or you will likely burn out. For some people, being part of a recreational league, or exercising with a friend can help them be accountable to continuing the exercise. But for others, the solitary and meditative exercise of running can be very motivational. Ashely Womble talks about how she combats depression, in an article entitled "Using Running to Fight Depression." As Womble points out there is considerable body of research that link physical activity and mental wellness. The type of exercise you do is less important than the simple fact of having sustained physical activity for at least 15 minutes a day.

The obvious challenge is in starting and maintaining an exercise program. I recommend you begin with small challenges. There are some great apps that have 7 minute workouts. Check your app store for examples. Or challenge yourself to walk 10,000 steps a day. You can often fit these steps into your daily routines by doing things like taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Many people I know love using fitness trackers like the Fitbit to track their steps. Making a game of it can motivate you and make the whole process more fun.

Keep it going, and monitor your emotions

If you are struggling with stress and depression in your life, I challenge you to think of adding some type of movement into you day. Set a modest goal for the week and when you meet it, increase the goal the following week. People generally overestimate what they can accomplish in a short period of time and underestimate what you can do over a long period of time. Don't expect dramatic results over night, but you will find yourself changing over time if you stick with this lifestyle of activity. You will find that both your physical and emotional health will increase. Exercise can be a magic pill for many of the things that ail you.

If you are struggling with pain or feeling stuck in your life, professional counseling can help. You can contact our Houston therapists by phone at 713 - 591 -3612, via email at nancy @ wilsoncounsleing. org or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more. Help is just a phone call away!

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