May 4, 2020 –During May, we’re celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month by focusing our Duval Dialogue on topics that promote ways we can be healthy, strong and vibrant in all areas of our life.
For example, fitness and nutrition may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about mental health. But eating right and keeping your body moving plays a huge role in both your physical health and how great you feel emotionally.
As I mentioned in my last article, one of the first things I ask myself if I seem to be unseasonably irritable and depressed is, “Am I taking care of my body?”
What you do with your body has a tremendous effect on your mind, and getting physical activity is a big component. Exercise releases endorphins, a chemical that produces feelings of happiness and accomplishment. Study after study has proven the power of endorphins to boost your overall mood, so it makes sense that when you approach your brain health, it’s important to look at your body health.
On a given day, the average American walks 1.2 miles just going about their regular schedule. That’s going to be cut down to a much smaller number during the current COVID-19 situation. (My tracker says I’m walking less than 0.5 miles most days – yikes!) So how can we make up for the activity deficit at home? Well, below are a few ways to keep moving, and keep those endorphins doing what they do best.
- Stretch in the morning when you get out of bed. As soon as you wake up, set your feet on the ground and stand up. The sooner you get up and start moving, the easier it is to wake up your body for the day. You’ll find some good morning stretches here.
- Change clothes for exercise time and put on sneakers. This will help put your mind in the place to exercise. It’s called “enclothed cognition” according to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and it puts your mind in the right attitude to get fit.
- Go for a walk outside. With so many people stuck at home, it’s never been safer to be a pedestrian. Go for a walk down the street and get some fresh air, or walk to get your groceries. Instead of driving to my apartment complex dumpster to take the garbage out, I’ve been carrying it. Not only does it add more steps, but my arms are getting some exercise too.
- Do our Duval HomeRoom “TRI” Each Day Challenge. During the month of May, Duval County Public Schools is putting our own spin on the triathlon by challenging the community to pick three of the five components of health-related fitness and put them to the test daily.
- Lean against a sturdy kitchen counter in order to do some easy push-ups. Here are some other workouts you can do at your kitchen counter.
- Have a planking contest with the family. Think of an inventive prize for whoever can hold the plank the longest each day.
- Have a dance party. Clear some space in the living room or outside in the yard, take turns picking out your favorite tunes to dance to, and go nuts!
- Don’t push yourself too hard! Exercise in a way that will keep you excited to do it again. Endurance grows with activity, so move while staying within comfortable boundaries and having fun.
What are some of the things you’re doing to stay active? Share this with friends and hold each other accountable as workout partners. Remember, you can email your thoughts, ideas, and responses directly to me at [email protected]. Check back each week this month for more Mental Health topics.