How to improve your mental health – keep it MOVING!

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I’ve really had to be very compassionate and patient with myself lately. I didn’t understand how much COVID and all the restrictions of the ‘new-normal’ affected me until a couple of weeks ago. 

Recently my husband saw me sobbing uncontrollably. When asked, it was so difficult for me to identify the problem. Why was I in such an emotional state? What could have been the trigger? For the life of me I couldn’t understand it either. I was so out of it.

I’ve been going through the motions of what life was for me at that time – it only consisted of work, work, WORK! The very next morning when I went running, the question kept plaguing my thoughts “Why are you unhappy Pat, what is it?”  And that’s when it dawned on me.

The one thing that I loved doing, the experience that gets me most alive… was running races.

Being encapsulated by the entire race experience from preparing for a marathon, arriving at the location, collecting your bibs, meeting up with your running friends, or even meeting new ones.

The entire atmosphere, the ambiance – it brought me to euphoria; there’s nothing like it!

The pinnacle of my depression was that I have not been able to RUN since the onslaught of COVID. In 2020, all my races were canceled, and even when a few of the races started back in 2021 after countries began to re-open with strict travel rules… I was still in fear of all that was happening within my country and worldwide. I couldn’t restart my dedication, at least, not yet.

The rhythmic sound of my soles hitting the ground is where I regroup, where I brainstorm, most of all, it’s where I unravel and de-stress from life’s challenges. Running became a self-care regime for me; that’s the one thing that I dedicated to myself; it helped to form my peace.

COVID-19, has wreaked chaos worldwide with the impact causing massive changes to our daily lives, changes that happened rapidly and abruptly. Around the world, extensive social distancing policies have been put in place, restricting people’s daily activities with pleas from governments asking people to stay safe and at home. 

Similarly, since the onset of the pandemic, mental health issues have been magnified significantly. Some people found themselves in survival mode, while others attempted to settle into their new routine. For many, these changes has also given rise to reduced physical activity and more critically, the famed COVID-weight. It is a fact that the social distancing measures are important and needed during a time like now however our bodies and minds still need physical activity to help combat the sometime crippling mental health challenges magnified by the pandemic. 

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With that said, any physical activity is better than none! Although exercise reduces depression, many persons who were more depressed were less motivated to get active.

Being physically active will be a challenge for all of us but it is critical that we find and plan ways to be active and reduce our sedentary time.

Research shows…

  • Physical activity is a great way to manage stress by lessening the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Physical activity helps to keep cortisol levels from being imbalanced which negatively influences immune function and inflammation.

Here are 4 things you can do on your journey to Mental Wellness in a Pandemic 

  1. Take breaks from conversations, news, and information related to COVID-19.
  2. Get up and move around whenever you can.  Small movements such as household chores or neighbourhood walks to stretch your legs can improve your physical health and well-being.
  3. Please do not shy away to seek help and support when needed. No one knows when we will go back to ‘normal’. It’s okay not to feel okay
  4. Click here to join my 21-Day Challenge and jump start your journey to mental wellness through physical activity

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