Out of Office: Activity for Brain Health by Megan Murphy
While talking about mental health, it’s important to remember brain health too. Diseases such as depression and anxiety cause physical changes to your brain and have the potential to speed up brain aging, welcoming memory diseases such as dementia. Brain inflammation is another typical side effect of depression, and inflammation can cause cell death. With rapid cell death, your brain can quite literally shrink!
Alongside medical options, there are also lifestyle changes that may help you fight depression. The first thing that comes to mind is physical activity. I’m sure you’re like me when I say that I feel my best being active. After all, exercise has proven to be one of the best remedies for staying mentally healthy. But “exercise” doesn’t have to mean grueling early morning gym workouts (unless you’re into that!).
So here are three gentle reminders when you’re starting your activity journey:
Start small (but challenge yourself to commitment)
Find something you can do regularly, say for 30 minutes on five days of the week. This could be taking a walk after dinner, riding your bike to grab lunch, a morning yoga session, roller blading, swimming, jogging, taking a class at your local gym or rec center….
Whatever you choose, don’t worry about straining yourself. Just start moving!
Then, challenge yourself to do it for three days in a row. Soon it’ll be easy to commit to four, then five, then six. Reward yourself each step of the way and make the challenge fun!
Explore nature (and express gratitude)
Try to make at least 3 of those activities outside, if possible. Connecting with nature is a surefire way to feel your best.
When we connect with nature, we ground our spirit to the physical world around us. Grounding yourself is extra helpful when you feel you’ve lost your way [due to stress or depression].
Try to align your thoughts to those of gratitude and think of each step as a physical tether to the earth.
Simple meditation like this, such as repeating a positive affirmation in your head or focusing on what you’re grateful for, can help to recenter your mind and while moving your body.
Find Support (through active listening)
Don’t move your body alone! Find a friend to walk or jog with, sign up for a class and meet new people.
When we spend time communicating, exploring and listening to others, we lift ourselves up. Try engaging in conversation with others when you’re out and you may find yourself feeling better fast.
Everyone has a story, so practice actively listening to others and share your own story when you’re ready. You never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet!
We hope that these suggestions for a positive atmosphere can help you explore more of the world!
We truly hope you take a little bit from each of our blogs this month and create a healthy plan for yourself.