We don't know who makes these up but May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and we fully support it. Especially considering the current state of things, it’s important to keep mental health as top-of-mind as we keep physical health — but they’re closely related. Here are some ways improving your physical health can help keep your mental health in shape:
- Better sleep. Exercise alone can make you tired, but it can also help regulate your circadian rhythm that tells you when to get to bed. We’re not scientists, but people who are scientists found out that exercise can increase sleep quality by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep – and decrease the amount of time you lie awake in bed at night.
- Higher self esteem. Look good, feel good, amiright? But aside from the obvious aesthetic rewards of physical fitness, the confidence that comes from crushing workouts and working toward fitness goals is unparalleled. Set an athletic goal, work hard to achieve it, and boom. You feel better about yourself.
- Sharper memory and focus. According to Harvard, exercise acts directly on the brain itself… Parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don't. "Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions," says Dr. McGinnis. (Note: We didn’t come up with any of that. All credit to the guys at Harvard.)
- Decreased stress. Exercise helps decrease cortisol and stress levels in your bod by stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” - Elle Woods.
- Stronger resilience. Especially when faced with mental or emotional challenges, exercise helps you cope in a healthy way, instead of coping in an unhealthy way like drinking, or drugs, or other bad stuff that ultimately make your symptoms worse. So instead of picking up a bad habit for coping, pick up a good one: fitness.
And finally, we think caffeine helps with everything. Here are a bunch of tasty ways to get your fix.
For more resources and information on Mental Health Awareness Month, click here.