Tacoma Christian Counselor
For many years, a strong focus has been on our physical health. From the time we were young, we were taught how to take care of our body, what to eat, and how to maintain it so that we can have a healthy life. While physical health is essential, mental health is rarely given the same importance. This has, however, changed over the past couple of years.Our mental health is taking center stage, and its value is finally being recognized. God is for us to improve our bodies. After all, he created our bodies, and we give honor to Him when we take care of our bodies. 1 Timothy 4:8: “Physical training is good.”
Physical and spiritual exercise is good for the soul. Giving thanks to your limbs, breath, heart, and lungs keeps you grounded in your faith and can increase the motivation to get through your physical workout.
Mental health encompasses a person’s psychological, social, and emotional well-being. It is essential because it affects how someone faces life’s challenges, manages relationships, makes life decisions, and their general well-being. Like physical health, attaining it requires intention, discipline, and knowledge. One can safeguard one’s mental health in many ways, and exercise has been seen to have tremendous results.
Exercising can be defined as any physical activity that is more intense than your normal day-to-day activities. It is intentional movement one does to get the body moving to increase heart rate, burn calories, and make one more fit.
Exercise has also been highly recommended for people who want to be mentally healthy. The production or regulation of the following hormones or chemicals can help with our mental health: Activating your body can create a shift in your mind and encourage your spirit to focus on being grateful and appreciative.
Physical activity activates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward benefits. Our mood, motivation, and ability to concentrate are boosted as a result.
When we exercise, serotonin levels are increased in our brains. Serotonin has been associated with alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms, so much so that sometimes people are encouraged to exercise before they are put on any medication. Serotonin regulates appetite, sleep, and mood.
Often called the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins contribute to pleasure and euphoria when released to the body due to exercise. Endorphins are also responsible for reducing stress and anxiety, which is integral to general well-being.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
A sense of relaxation results from increased GABA during exercise. This is because it is an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for calming the nervous system.
Brain-Derived Neotropics Factors (BDNF).
BDNF is a protein responsible for the maintenance and growth of neurons, and exercise activates its production. Cognitive functioning is improved by the production of BDNF, which means it’s a natural guard against depression.
Exercising helps with the regulation of cortisol, which is often called the stress hormone. Its regulation and reduction promote improved mood and our ability to manage stressful situations.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake-sleep cycle. Sleep is essential to our mental health. Exercising influences the production of melatonin, which is responsible for good-quality rest.
This is a neurotransmitter also released during exercise. Norepinephrine is responsible for alertness and focus as it plays a role in our fight or flight response functioning. This function reduces the effects of stress and anxiety.
Oxytocin is produced during exercise. It has been termed the love or bonding hormone because it is responsible for our ability to connect with those around us. Its production promotes positive social interactions that are important for our mental health. We feel better about ourselves when we feel connected to others.
Additional benefits of exercising on mental health.
Increased Self-Esteem and Confidence.
Whether our confidence increases by getting to our desired weight through exercise or producing feel-good hormones, our self-esteem is boosted by activity. We feel good and have a favorable view of ourselves, strengthening our faith.
Sense of Purpose.
With better cognitive functioning, improved mood, and increased motivation, exercise helps us to start having a sense of purpose and direction. Our mind starts to function from a place of clarity. We know who we are in Christ and hear the Holy Spirit better, allowing Him to lead us.
This is especially true when we start and stick to an exercise regimen. Exercising is not easy. Our ability to be disciplined and resilient in this one area of our lives gives us confidence to be resilient in other areas of our lives, especially now that we have increased mental fortitude. God grows in us through patience and endurance.
An outlet for frustrations.
Life throws curve balls at us occasionally. Pray! Exercising can be a way to release that pent-up energy and an outlet for our clouded minds. Physical activity will help you calm down. Listing your blessings and what you are grateful for can re-center you.
Increased energy levels.
Exercising increases our energy levels to better function. Anyone who has ever struggled with fatigue knows that low energy levels can be debilitating. With increased energy levels comes the ability to tend to our work and responsibilities, which has the additional benefit of feeling productive. Calling on the Holy Spirit will also help. He lives in you, he’s alive, and the Holy Spirit can give you the extra energy you need.
Exercise can help us feel good about ourselves. When we feel good, we are better positioned to have meaningful bonds and connections with those in our lives. Our relationships are improved as we improve our mental health through exercise, and our personal relationship with Christ improves from that strength.
Boost Immune System.
A weakened immune system makes us susceptible to illnesses. We can boost our immune system by reducing stress, increasing circulation, and producing antibodies through exercise. When our body is functioning well, it helps us function better mentally.
Exercising is not easy, that is true. Many have cited various reasons why they have not made physical activity a part of their lives. Their reasons commonly include not having enough time, health constraints, the cost of gym membership, and lack of support and motivation. It is important to note that all these reasons are valid, and realistic solutions must be in place to start exercising.
Sometimes, the troubles come from inactivity, which can cause mental health issues and impact your spiritual strength. For this reason, to give ourselves a fighting chance, we should try exercise if we are not feeling well emotionally or battling fatigue.
That being said, one of the myths about exercising that keeps people away from it is that it has to be some vigorous regiment that leaves one feeling all the aches and pains. That is not true. Studies have shown that short and sometimes not even challenging exercises can be beneficial.
People have reported seeing improvements in their fitness levels, mental health, and general well-being from committing to taking walks every day, and all these increase your faith. It can be short 20–30-minute walks.
If one commits to starting small, seeking the correct information for their situation, and doing it consistently, whatever activity they choose, it is bound to help improve their well-being. It is important to note that you do not need an expensive gym membership to start exercising. Do what is within your reach, jump, and do not forget to pray.
There are also a lot of myths about exercising that are out there that keep people away from even trying. This article intends to get you to a place where you can do more research about its benefits and be encouraged to start, no matter how small the beginning. Trust the process, and don’t forget to include God; he wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives.
A counselor can assist.
A well-rounded life can be challenging without the proper support, skills, and tools. Getting on top of our mental health requires us to be informed about how best to care for ourselves and what needs to be done.
If you have any more questions on how exercising can help your mental wellness while incorporating and strengthening your faith, please get in touch with our offices. A trained counselor can do the needed assessments and help you with a personalized treatment plan.
“Runner”, Courtesy of Zakaria Boumliha, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Yoga Practitioner”, Courtesy of Tembela Bohle, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Hands”, Courtesy of Monstera Production, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Yoga Practitioner”, Courtesy of olia danilevich, Pexels.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.