Have you ever wondered how important movement or physical activity is in our lives?
It is practically impossible for you not to move daily, even without realizing it, our body is constantly in motion, as is the case with pumping blood, these movements are called involuntary.
On the other hand, there are voluntary movements, those that involve physical effort and it is in these that we want to emphasize due to the importance they have on our health and our mind.
Every day we move, for example: we get up, shower, have breakfast, move by travelling to and from work and school because that is simply our daily routines; however, do you realise the importance of movement and the effect that can have on our brain activity and psychological wellbeing?
Well, it can have a huge positive impact and it is essential to think about how physical activity and the importance of rest can bring about so many wellbeing benefits. Let’s have a look at three different aspects that can affect our psychological health.
Our brains are powerhouses of complex structures that allow us to live and carry out our daily lives, the brain is paramount which is why it is so important that we know a little about what goes on in our intricate minds.
86 billion neurons, on average, occupy one brain and these neurons travel around the brain and connect with other neurons by sending electrical impulses which results in brainwaves. These brainwaves effect our psychological states and consciousness. There are four psychological states that we are interested in: Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta.
When we go for a dog walk, listen to music or meditate we are in the Alpha state which exemplifies us being relaxed and taking time to reset from a busy day. Rest goes hand in hand with movement as when we take time for ourselves, we can reduce anxiety, increase our energy, athleticism, motivation and overall happiness.
When we are conversing with our friends and family, learning something new or problem solving we are in a Beta state. This is when the brain is really active which helps us be alert, productive and engaging, helping our daily lives feel and be more positive.
Next, there is the Theta state which is active when we daydream, colour/draw or complete a task that we do without thinking during a sense of deep relaxation. This can help us feel content, increase imagination, improve our memory and it is beneficial for physical healing.
Lastly, when we are in deep sleep, we are in the Delta state which helps us to feel energised and rejuvenised for the next day.
Overall, these four psychological states can have a huge impact on our productivity and happiness. In order to improve mental wellbeing, you need to ensure you exercise when you can(beta), rest(delta), have time for yourself(theta) and socialise(alpha).
For an optimum wellbeing, you need to have a mixture of all these states.
Hormones are very important bodily functions; they are messengers that travel in our bloodstreams and can have a huge effect on our mood.
Exercise specifically can produce ‘happy’ hormones that put us in a cheerful mood and add a spring in our step. Let’s consider endorphins, when we exercise such as: running, cycling, and dancing our bodies produce endorphins which helps us feel positive and uplifted. The feel-good factor.
Why don’t you try the happy dance video in this article to see if you feel in a better mood after?
Serotonin is another hormone that should be mentioned, it is made up of amino acids and tryptophan which are produced at a higher rate when we exercise. This hormone boosts our mood, stabilises are emotions and promotes happiness. When exercising, there is an abundance of serotonin flowing round our bodies, which has a whole host of positive impacts on us. It benefits our psychological state and helps us have more efficacious sleep, digestion and eating habits.
Another hormone that is produced while exercising is dopamine, this is a chemical messenger that is involved with pleasure and has been identified to reduce stress and anxiety whilst helping people feel in a better mood. Also, dopamine fuels are motivation to connect with others and feel optimistic about our relationships. Exercise can have an impact on both our mental wellbeing and social connections.
TOP TIP=Devise an exercise plan to help you have routine and structure, it is beneficial to mix your exercise up, for example: walking, yoga, and strength training. You may want to have a look at the short yoga video in this article or learn more about how physical activty can impact our mental health by listening to the podcast.
Rest is essential for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and without it, or lack of it, our psychological and physical wellbeing can really suffer. In fact, sleep recharges our brains after tiring, stressful and busy days in order for us to be able to sustain jobs, schoolwork and movement for the subsequent days. Resting at night helps us make memories whilst helping us maintain heathy mindsets, moods, relationships and performance in the workplace.
It is very easy to dismiss sleep and for it not to be a priority in our hectic lives: you would rather get that last email sent, stay up late chatting with friends or binge watching your favourite TV shows but we should all place getting a sufficient amount of sleep (8 hours per night) at the top of our priorities as it can affect us in many ways.
If we continuously get poor sleep our emotions and moods can be detrimentally impacted with the risk of feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, forgetful and an increased inability to balance our emotions. A lack of sleep can also affect us physically with a weakened immune system, tiredness, increased risk to our cardiovascular health and induced stress.
TOP TIP=Things that can help us have a restful night sleep involve trying to devise a regular sleep cycle, not drinking liquids excessively before bed, daily exercise and no electronic devices late at night.
Finding a balance between physical activty and rest can be hard but why not make a start with simple changes like driving the car less and taking the stairs instead of the lift. Small changes can make a huge difference on our psychological health.
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