It’s the beginning of the new year thus it is not uncommon for people to set health and fitness goals, especially around losing weight. Now, I am all for health and fitness goals, however, if you are setting some, I would like you to think about your reason behind them and try to set specific ones, not around weight loss, but rather around keeping your mental health on track and healthy.
Reasons to Set Goals
There are a few reasons for to set goals for your mental health. First, physical activities have been proven to help people to manage their symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief, ADHD and more. No, exercise is not a happy pill, it will not automatically solve all your problems. I mention this because I have heard others who are anti exercise for mental health as they were expecting it to be the magic cure. Now, while exercise has been linked to the release of dopamine and serotonin which improves mood, it also helps one from experiencing worse symptoms. The later is something I started noticing with my clients years ago. Some of them we able to get better with exercising, while others notice little impact, however they did notice their symptoms didn’t get worse and they started to stabilize some.
Secondly, from my years of experience working with others in the mental health field, I have noticed how people respond when they do not have goals set, or something to look forward to, they tend to get less done. Goals help others get more accomplished. A simple example of this is someone who would like to start running again because it was something in the past that made them feel good. If they set a goal of completing a race, like a 5K, by a specific time, they tend to get more time in running than someone who didn’t set this goal.
This simple aspect of achieving progress with their goals not only had a positive impact on both their physical and mental health, but also had a big impact on their self-confidence and self-esteem. As I have noticed my clients who were able to build up with self-esteem and confidence, I saw them able to better manage their mental health symptoms. They were able to get a better grasp on them, control their symptoms better instead of letting their symptoms control them.
Types of Physical Activities
Pretty much any type of physical activity that gets your heart pumping a little and gets you moving will work. The trick here is to find something that you enjoy. If you like running but hate the gym, then stick to the outdoors when running. Or if you prefer rock climbing over lifting weights, then focus on the rock wall and skip the gym. And you don’t need to think big here, if you like just walking, then walk on! How about yoga? Golfing? Group sports? I can so go on but will leave it at that.
Now, take a few minutes and think of some physical activity goals you can set for this year that you think will be fun. And don’t forget: make sure you do one thing today that will get you one step closer to one of your goals!
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