Exercise and Mental Health

Even before I learned that I was an HSP, and before I fully understood how important mental wellness was for my life, I enjoyed exercise.

Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone…some people just don’t find it fun! (And believe me, some days I don’t either) but do read on – I have some tips and advice that may help because hey, whether we like it or not, it is good for us. ❤

Exercise has been an escape for me throughout my life.

If I had a bad day at school as a kid, I would go to rhythmic gymnastics practice after school knowing that I would have a very different experience there.

I would find a calm, centered place in my stretching, excitement and pride in my routines; it was just me and my body, and my determination…mind over matter a lot of the time.

As I grew up and moved away from gymnastics and dance, I discovered long distance running. Again, I found it to be an activity of solace, something in my life that I could take control over and give to myself. Perhaps it was a form of alone time for me before I really realized how much I needed it.

*Disclaimer:

As a typical HSP who thinks of all sides of the story, I would like to say that I am also aware that exercise can correlate with mental health in an unhealthy way too – i.e. over exercising, body image issues, etc. This is an entirely different issue than the angle of my topic today, though of course worthy of just as much attention.

Today, I would like to focus on how exercise can help improve our mental health and combat anxiety and depression. It is also a good activity for HSPs as we process our thoughts and experiences.

When I endure changes and have decisions to make in my life, I know that ideally I should be giving myself a lot of mental space and time to think and to process. I also feel this way about experiences such as a great weekend getaway, a fun girl’s night, a deep discussion with my partner or a good friend…

If I don’t give myself the time to absorb the aftermath and dive deep about certain points and moments, then I miss out, in a way… I don’t get everything that I could get from the experience… if that makes sense!

Exercise gives me the space I need to do this. I actually thought of this post while on a run!

When we exercise, we create space in our minds.

Sometimes while running or at the gym I am surprised at what comes into my head – little things that don’t seem significant. But hey, those are thoughts for you, and I don’t think thoughts should be taken so seriously.

They usually just need to be acknowledged and taken for simply a thought, and nothing more (it is when we let our thoughts turn into feelings and our reality that they can take control of us).

So, just recognize your thoughts as a thoughts, and let them drift away. What will you have left? A cleansed mind.

Exercise also naturally increases serotonin function in the brain which is a recipe for happier moods, ultimately combating imbalances that lead to anxiety and depression. For more details, check out one of the many articles on this topic here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/22590-effects-exercise-serotonin-levels/

Unfortunately, HSPs are more prone to anxiety and depression if they’ve had a difficult childhood or experienced trauma at some point in their life. Exercise can be extremely beneficial and effective for HSPs struggling with mental wellness issues.

And remember, your physical activity of choice could be anything: a brisk walk in the park, yoga, pilates, long distance running, hiking, biking, weightlifting, water aerobics, whatever you are drawn to! Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like, take time to explore and find an activity that you enjoy.

I would like to tie back into one of the first posts I wrote for The Sensitive Trait: Self Care and Refueling for the HSP, for a moment. Exercise may fit well into your self care and refueling practices, but if you’re like me, you’ll need alone time and down time as well. 🙂

female-running-by-rossella-apostoli

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a special offer to all of my HSP followers:

As you may have seen from The Sensitive Trait’s Facebook page, I am holding a draw for you to win three FREE HSP Coaching sessions!

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The Details:

As an aspiring HSP Mentor & Coach, my intention is to help Highly Sensitive People not just survive, but thrive in this world and hone into their abilities and talents. I will be selecting three volunteers on October 27th, 2015 with whom I will conduct three FREE one-hour Skype or phone call sessions.

During these sessions we will discuss what being an HSP means for you and identify some areas where you would like to thrive instead of struggle as an HSP.

Why am I doing this and why is it free?

I am doing this in order to get more experience and to learn and grow as an HSP mentor and coach by helping others individually, one on one. So it will be a bit of an exchange – you will help me learn and experience this next step in my journey to help other HSPs, and I will do my best to help you in return.

To enter the draw, please send me an email at: thesensitivetrait@gmail.com with some words about why you feel drawn to this opportunity! I look forward to hearing from you ❤

Until next time,

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie.

 

 

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One thought on “Exercise and Mental Health

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post about exercising and HSPS. It truly is a great way to unwind, and relax your mind. With anxiety being an issue that I have been dealing with over the last 4 years – in relation to nursing school and being newly graduated nurse, I truly value that time in the gym or outside being active. It’s amazing how easily you can clear your mind of all the worries and stressors of the day in just a few minutes:) thanks for reminding me the value of that!

    Like

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