Exercising not only generates a higher level of fitness, but also improves mental health and wellness by relieving stress and anxiety. In spirit of Mental Health and Wellness Week, sponsored by UPUA, I explored how physical activity can be as good for the mind as it is the body.
Focus on Yourself
Working out is one of the few times during the day where you can focus simply on yourself. During those devoted times, put aside worries about school, work, meetings, exams and all other pressures that come with being a student. When you do this, you’ll find that you become more in tune with both your physical and mental self. Get in the zone. Allow yourself to focus on each movement and each action you perform. Working out is one excusable time to be selfish, so make it count.
Do What You Love
When you’re stressing and under a lot of anxiety, the hardest thing is to get up and get moving. Do your brain a favor with a break for physical activity. If you love to run, go on a run. If you love to play soccer, dance or shoot some hoops, do it. Don’t feel like you have to complete a super exertive, strenuous workout that will simply make you more miserable. Do something that your body and mind love to do.
Mix It Up
Sometimes our week seems like the same old routine. Luckily, Penn State has more variety of physical fitness than we could ask for. Go to a different gym. If you’re the stereotypical Rec Hall fan, wonder over to the White Building. If you love power remix, try a cycling class instead. Work out with others. Building social interactions allow you to build off one another’s motivation. There are endless opportunities to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Change is engaging. It will keep the mind refreshed and motivated.
Choose a Peaceful Atmosphere
Hitting up a sweaty, crowed gym is not always an ideal place to allow for relaxation. Often, the key to relieving stress and anxiety is through mediation and breathing. If you haven’t taken advantage of Penn State Fitness’ yoga and pilates classes, there’s never a better time. With mid-semester chaos happening, these classes provide the perfect room to quietly meditate and focus on proper breathing. With dim lights and calming music, you’ll leave feeling exhausted yet relaxed.
Not a yoga fan? Try exercising outside. Even if you’re not going on a run, getting some fresh air is good for you. Outside, you’ll get fresh air and sunshine, both which are minimal in a gym setting. These do wonders for your mood and mental well-being. The scents, colors and sounds will keep your mind and body revitalized.
You may notice yourself eating cleaner, sleeping better and staying more focused. Relieving stress and anxiety through exercise will increase both happiness and satisfaction in all aspects of your life.
Photo by Sabine Clermont