Researchers have found that routine physically activity can help reduce depression. When you’re physically active your brain releases chemicals that help relieve stress, promote alertness, and improve your overall mental well-being.
That said, becoming more physically active while fighting depression can seem daunting. Here are some simple tips to get you started and keep you going.
- When many guys hear the words ‘physical activity’, they think of going to a gym to lift weights or doing a 5km run, but going for a short walk, doing household chores, or anything that gets you up and moving is physical activity – it all counts.
- On your lowest days, being “active” might mean simply dragging yourself out of bed – but it’s a start and getting yourself in motion can actually help you feel more energized and put your mind in a better place. If the most you can do is take a short walk, start there. The next day, try to do a little more and build on that.
- Depression makes you want to retreat and be alone, but by involving a friend you’re now fighting depression on two fronts: with physical activity and by staying connected with others.
- Involving others in your physical activities leads to a mutual commitment and helps you stick with it.
- The days you feel least like doing something active are the most important days to do it. Those are the days when you will feel best from being active.
- Habits take a few weeks to form, expect the start to be difficult, but know that it’s not impossible. Being more active really can help.
- If you’ve managed to get yourself going – even for the simplest of things like washing the dishes, for example – take a moment to recognize that any kind of physical activity is really difficult when depression is at its worst. Use the momentum to carry you on to your next small task.
- Try not to let negative thinking creep in while you are being active (such as, getting down on yourself because all you can do on a bad day is a short walk around the block). Instead, try flipping things around and focusing on the positive effects of physical activity – more energy, better sleep, better appetite, clearer thinking – to help get you going.
For more tips, check out our full guide on physical activity.
Written by the HeadsUpGuys Team - Combining lived experience, clinical practice, and research expertise. Reviewed and approved by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk - Professor and Director of the Psychotherapy Program at the Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia.
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