Exercise for Mental Health

Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa
Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa

Exercising for Mental Health

One of the issues that people experience when they are having difficulty mentally – especially those experiencing depression – is that you find you don’t want to do anything you aren’t required to do. One of the things I learned a decade ago when I was feeling down, was that when I felt down and I didn’t want to walk or bicycle, these were some of the best things for my mood. Why?

Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa Walk
Exercise for Mental Health on Te Araroa Walk

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercising allows you to view the world around you, getting you out of your mind for awhile. Exercise allows you to get fresh air and increase your metabolism, which helps your body to produce natural feel-good hormones. Exercise helps you to lose weight, which can further help your moods. Exercise can help you develop a schedule that brings you out of your shell. Exercise (when around others) can help you to develop more friendships.

Meeting a Friend on Te Araroa
Meeting a Friend on Te Araroa

Exercise for my Wellbeing

I try to exercise each week with my son at the gym and I also try to go on long tramps, either with him or on my own. This last week, I had a bit of extra time – a luxury for me – and I decided to do a few substantial walks. I left home earlier than usual and was half way through the walk before I saw the sun. I encountered two sheep on my travels and had a conversation with one of them. I felt the wind on my face, the air in my lungs and the feel of my feet as they contacted the ground. For those interested in meditation, there is a type of meditation called “walking meditation” and this is something I did, as I felt my body contact the earth.

Exercise as Self-Care for Mental Health
Exercise as Self-Care for Mental Health

Exercise for Your Mental Health

Try to get out, even when it feels difficult. Start with something small and try to add to it over time. We need sunshine. We need contact with other life. Perhaps you can find a friend who will go with you and who will encourage you on days you aren’t as excited about going. Every step helps!

Eternity is in the evening air

“For Mal had learned in his brief joyless life that nothing is faithful and that one needn’t have a body to be able to mourn, for death is everywhere. Cyanide fills the peach pit. Meningitis in a napkin fold and polio on the wet shower boards. Eternity is in the evening air.”

Joy Williams, in “Dimmer”

Introduction to Meditation

As I sat down to meditate tonight, I thought I would make a short audio clip of the process of meditation. When I decided to try meditation for the first time in 2003, I had difficulty finding anything online to help me jump into meditating. I ended up reading a fair bit in books and then eventually finding some online resources, before finding a meditation group almost a year after I started my practice.

The waves were quite loud behind me while I recorded this and a car or two went down my wee road. Jack Kornfield has commented on how thankful he was about the road next to where he started meditating, as it helped his practice. I honestly don’t notice the waves or the rare car passing, once I am focusing on my breath.

I once told a friend that meditation was the greatest gift I had ever given myself. It has allowed me to have a new relationship with myself – or perhaps has allowed me to return to one from before my mind became so busy.

Remember – meditation is a practice. Keep practising and you will start to see the benefits.