Mental Wellness and Physical Therapy Go Hand in Hand
January is Mental Wellness Month, making it the perfect time to focus on your personal well-being. Due to the challenges that 2020 posed for millions of people across the globe, January 2021 is the perfect time to focus on yourself – and what you need to thrive.
There are likely many topics on your mind in the new year, and at least a few of them probably have to do with physical and mental health. It’s no secret that a lot of people use the changing of the year as a chance to “restart” or “renew” themselves, but where should you begin?
For many, mental wellness is about much more than changing your way of thinking. This concept also involves taking care of yourself physically.
It might be cold and dreary out, and you may not be able to get outdoors to exercise or enjoy the open air as much as you’d like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your health. From exercise and good nutrition to managing stress, anxiety and depression, self-care is a multi-faceted undertaking that needs your focus to be successful.
Where to Begin When it Comes to Self-Care
The first thing you should do is take your current status into account. This means looking at the following.
- Friends and family
- Hobbies and interests
- Mental state
These elements may not seem connected, but they actually are. Mental wellness month is the perfect time to analyze the way each part of your life fits together – and to make changes where necessary.
For example, due to COVID-19, people’s habits and routines changed. Work environments changed, interaction with friends and family decreased, and the ability to participate in hobbies and interests shifted. While all of these scenarios may not apply to your personal situation, any change of this nature is likely to also have impacted your mental state, even if only slightly.
Start by thinking about the routines you want and need, and go from there.
In order to truly improve your mental and physical health, you need to understand what you want and need from your life. Starting small is recommended, and from there, you can gradually work toward making larger changes and improving your mental health.
For instance, prioritize the personal connections most important to you. People need connections. This isn’t something to be ashamed of or downplay. These connections may be virtual or in person, but they are necessary to overall well-being. This is just one idea.
Continue reading to learn some of the most useful ways for coping with physical and mental challenges and improving overall wellness this year.
Focus on Mental Wellness By Prioritizing Yourself
While people may experience a depressed mood, unhappiness, or feelings of anxiety, at any time throughout the year, the month of January is particularly difficult for many. Following the hype and excitement of the holidays is challenging, and many people long for more time with family and friends. Returning to work and daily routine can be very busy, which means people may neglect their basic needs – and relevant health concerns.
Cold weather, snow, shorter days and returning to work and school create challenges in everyday life. This also commonly leads to changes in mood and health. Don’t let these challenges become overwhelming. Take charge of your life – and your lifestyle – today!
It’s important to remember: You cannot possibly manage everything at once. Changes take time.
But where should you begin when it comes to self care?
Physical Activity and Lifestyle Changes Improve Mental Health
There are numerous mental health benefits to routine exercise. Exercise has been proven to help in a variety of situations, providing relief for those experiencing conditions like:
- Physical and mental trauma
This doesn’t mean that going for a run once, or choosing to start a weight lifting or weight loss program will change things immediately. Progress takes time.
Fortunately, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that will make a difference. To ensure that these changes are made safely, be sure to consult with your doctors or therapists before starting a new routine.
Exercise Helps Improve Basic Bodily Function
There are a few basic benefits you can expect from any type of exercise. You may notice some changes immediately, while others take time. Over time, you’ll notice a few things with regular physical activity.
- Your energy levels increase, and fatigue decreases
- Sleep patterns change and become more consistent
- Everyday activities become easier as your endurance levels elevate
- Improved self esteem
- Reduction of dependence on medications
- Your overall mood improves as time passes
Mental Wellness Levels Are Different Depending on the Individual
Before seeking out help from a nutritionist or physical therapist, it’s important to have an idea of what you’d like to focus on. Some people may not think that this is necessary, but in truth, knowing what impacts your life provides your support system with a concrete starting point. This is especially true for trainers and physical therapists, as there are specific exercises and strategies useful for different health conditions and goals.
Additionally, a starting point also helps these individuals understand where you are on a personal level, meaning that they won’t begin your fitness routine with a plan that is too difficult to realistically stick to.
There’s no doubt that exercise and increasing activity levels also improves mood, but how is this possible? What will it take to help alleviate your feelings of stress, or to elevate your daily mood?
Listed below are the ways that exercise helps to improve common mental health conditions.
How Exercise Improves Mood
Put simply, exercising releases endorphins. Endorphins boost your mood, and help people feel calm. This can offer a distraction from life’s problems and thinking too much about other areas of your life. An exercise plan changes this.
Completing exercises, meeting goals, and generally feeling good can change your day completely. Even seeing the success other people have following the same plans and programs is helpful.
Exercise and physical activity are good for chronic depression as well as seasonal depression. For those who still want to exercise and stay active, but are unsure where to start, or feeling unmotivated, seeking out a physical therapist might be the right call. It can be challenging to create an effective routine and stay disciplined. The structure and accountability of physical therapy may be just what you need.
Decrease Anxiety With Physical Activity
Since exercise relieves both tension and stress, it’s helpful for those suffering from anxiety. Again, the focus is on the release of endorphins. Using exercise to manage anxiety is about staying in the moment.
Mindfulness keeps you focused, meaning that as you exercise, you are not thinking about everything that causes you worry. Instead, you are paying attention to the way your body feels and reacts to the exercises you’re doing. Improving mental wellness begins with small periods of time and increases the more you get – and stay – active.
Mental Wellness Requires You to Decrease Stress
Being stressed is no fun. Stress causes a host of problems, including the following.
- Tense muscles
- Physical discomfort
Stress and its side effects can compound and worsen over time if not addressed. With regular exercise, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Something as simple as taking a short walk or setting aside a few minutes per day to stretch helps. Although, it’s not a full workout, or structured exercise plan, it can be enough to help you refocus. Also? Any form of exercise releases those endorphins, making you feel much better.
If you’re suffering from an injury or illness that impacts your ability to stay active, that can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Choosing physical therapy for recovery allows you to focus on your progress and your ability, not on what you can’t do, or what you have felt.
The mind and body are closely linked, meaning that making changes to one area impacts the other, too.
4 Coping Strategies for Increased Mental Wellness
In addition to increasing your activity level via home or gym workouts, or under the supervision of a physical therapist, there are other coping strategies available.
Some of them are common sense solutions, like improving your diet, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and keeping a positive attitude. However, these suggestions are often easier said than done. Do your best.
1. Try to laugh more. Laughter helps relieve stress and anxiety, and can improve your mood immensely.
2. Don’t talk – or think – about yourself negatively. Self doubt is understandable, but letting yourself dwell on the negatives does more harm than good. Use mistakes and discomfort as a way to learn and grow in the future.
3. Not every stressful situation will have a negative outcome. It may seem like this at first, but thinking through each scenario and not immediately settling on the worst-case outcome is important. Attempt to solve problems creatively.
4. Ask for help. It doesn’t matter if it’s simply talking to a family member or friend, or reaching out to a mental wellness or healthcare professional. Someone can and will help. You are not alone, even though it may seem like you are in some moments.
Where to Turn For Mental Wellness Help?
Have you decided that you need and want to make a change to take charge of your mental health and well-being by incorporating exercise? Look no further than your local physical therapy providers. Resources like the BetterPT clinic location tool and mobile app connect you with physical therapists immediately. Find clinics and professionals in your area and you begin getting well and improving your mental health.
One of the most important reasons to work with a physical therapist is because they can tell you how and why what you’re doing helps. Understanding the process of exercise and the impact it has on your body is essential to sticking with a routine. When you know why a certain outcome happens, it motivates you to repeat the steps to achieve it.
Improving mental wellness isn’t just a solution for some.
It works for everyone, even if the path taken is a little different. Don’t wait any longer – consider utilizing a physical therapist’s services to increase activity levels and boost your mood today!