Our bodies play a bigger role in our mental health than we realize. Studies have repeatedly proven that exercise is effective at reducing fatigue, improving concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when we’re burdened with stress and anxiety. Research suggests that these three activities in particular help alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms.
Running causes lasting changes in our “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin, both during and after exercise. The repetitive motions of running appear to have a meditative effect on the brain. More good news: it can make falling asleep at night easier, which benefits your overall mental health.
Hiking In the Woods
It’s not a secret that nature has a calming effect on our minds. Being around trees helps reduce anxiety because these plants emit chemicals that soothe our parasympathetic nervous system. The Japanese have long practiced Shirin-yoku, or forest bathing, which means taking in the forest atmosphere to alleviate stress, fatigue, and feelings of depression.
A study published in 2017 showed that all of the participants who had taken yoga classes experienced a significant reduction of anxiety, anger, and depressive symptoms. The great thing about yoga is that apart from core stretching and core strengthening, there is a lot of focus on breathing, which helps to slow down and calm the mind.