August is National Wellness Month! Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits daily to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving. Your actions of wellness can look vastly different to others based on what you need personally to feel good.
Taking the initiative to include movement throughout your day dramatically affects your mental health. Finding the right balance for yourself can be challenging. Setting small goals for the week or even the day can help manage your expectations and keep you on track. Setting small, realistic, attainable goals, you are more likely to succeed! According to an article on Better Health Australia, it states “You are more likely to reach your ultimate goal if you break it down into small, short-term mini-goals. Short-term goals are specific, daily actions or behaviors that lead you to your ultimate goal” (Better Health AU, 2015).
So, what’s the process of setting short-term goals?
1. Ask yourself why you want to become more active.
Keep a journal and write down your reasons for maintaining physical wellness. Be specific. For example, “To play with the kids once a week” or “To feel more energized throughout the day.” Keep yourself motivated by reading through your reasons.
2. Set realistic expectations.
If you have not participated in physical activity for quite some time, your body needs time to adjust to your new movements. Be mindful of this. When writing down goals, be realistic and include timeframe or distance measurements. For example, “Walk one mile a day in under 15 minutes for one month” or “Meditating for 20 minutes each morning for two weeks”. The more specific you are, the greater your chance of achieving them.
3. Celebrate your wins.
Changing your lifestyle to a healthier one is not an overnight process. Permit yourself to acknowledge your hard work. Have weekly check-ins and cross off the goals you accomplished. Keep yourself motivated!
What does my physical health have to do with my mental health?
Short answer: A LOT! Your physical and mental health interconnect with one another. When your body feels good from movement, your mind follows. Feeling better can be explained by releasing brain chemicals called endorphins and dopamine when you exercise.
According to an article from Healthline, “Endorphins block pain and increase sensations of pleasure, and exercise certainly increases your endorphin levels. Dopamine plays an important role in how you feel pleasure. It’s also responsible for other processes in your body, such as regulating heart rate, sleep cycles, mood, attention, motivation, working memory, learning, and pain processing. The mental health benefits include improved self-esteem, decreased stress, improved mood, better assistance in managing mental health disorders, and better sleep” (Healthline, 2022).
In conclusion, introducing movement to your daily life can help to improve your overall mood. The act of wellness does not happen overnight. It’s a thoughtful process in which you can succeed with proper balance and management. When’s a better time to start than now? You’ve got this!
If you feel the need to reach out for help, here are some resources to guide you:
24/7 Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-0461
Don’t feel like talking? Text SUPPORT to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741
24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Dunkirk Mental Hygiene Clinic (716) 363-3550
Jamestown Mental Hygiene Clinic (716) 661-8330
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