Guest Blog by
Bryony Jackson, Dip. Counsellor
Have you ever experienced that moment where you’re dancing to a piece of great music and you just feel nothing but a flood of happiness, and you can’t explain it?
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. Dancing is clinically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and releases dopamine, which is a natural mood booster, and endorphins which are a natural painkiller. So actually, a good dance out in the kitchen could be just what you need where you’re having a day that just feels like it won’t ever end.
And if you’re reading this thinking, I don’t dance, well that’s okay too. Because the example I just gave is to prove to you that when you get up and move your body in a way that feels good for you, and give yourself the time to do something physical, you’re giving yourself something you maybe didn’t even realise you needed.
It can feel really frustrating when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed and somebody says ‘do some exercise, or go for a walk’ because it’s almost like they’re palming you off or not understanding that right now you’re struggling. But actually, these people are right! (I know you didn’t want to hear that)
It’s scientifically proven that physical activity is not only good for your health but extremely good for anxiety, depression and low mood. There are many studies which have shown that doing physical activity can improve mental health.
For example, it can help with: better sleep – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day, and happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy.
I started strength training about a year ago and initially I chose to do this for weight loss. What I found through this was a significant change. I began to sleep better, wake earlier, be in better form, and I found that I began to enjoy the challenge and having something to work towards.
I started to go out for more walks, in nature, and found that the more I did it the more I wanted to do it. I stopped experiencing large bouts of sadness or despair, but I also found that when I was feeling that way, encouraging myself to do something physical was helping me process my mood and leaving me feeling better.
So, explore what types of physical activity work for you.
Go do those walks. Do some yoga, in the comfort of your own home, when you’ve had what felt like just an awful day. Do a dance video! I promise you’ll only feel silly for a minute before it passes. Give yourself the time to take care of you in a way that you’ve maybe never given yourself, and reap the benefits. I promise – it’s worth it.