Guest Post: Using Exercise to Improve Your Mental Health

Hi, friends! Today on My Brain’s Not Broken we have a guest post from Pamela Zuber, a writer/editor from Sunshine Behavioral Health, who writes about how we can use exercise to improve our mental health and wellness.

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The Tunnel Vision of My Mental Health

When I think about the way I manage mental health, I think a lot about tunnel vision. If you’re not as familiar with the concept, tunnel vision is often used as a metaphor when someone is focused exclusively on a singular goal or way of doing things. Even though it’s often used as a metaphor, the literal definition of tunnel vision is a loss of peripheral vision. There are pro’s and cons to having tunnel vision when it comes to our mental health – let’s break down some of the main ways they occur.

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Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

Hi everyone! Since Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to a close, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve read and seen this month that have inspired me on my own mental health journey. I also wanted to create a space where I could reflect on the writing I’ve done this month and how it could be helpful on your mental health journey as well! Let’s dive in:

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Focusing On Mental Health And What’s Next

This month on My Brain’s Not Broken, I decided to intentionally focus on the pandemic’s impact on mental health. We’re also closing out Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’ve been very pleased to see the content that people have created and the wonderful ways that people have embraced conversations about mental health. Today, I want to focus on what’s ahead – not necessarily on what our mental health should look like after the pandemic (if that’s even a thing), but what we can do now. We’ve been living this way for 15 months now, and that’s brought a renewed focus on how we can better take care of ourselves in many ways, including mental health.

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Finding Mental Wellness During Uncertain Times

On Tuesday, I wrote about what my approach to mental health has been like during the pandemic – an approach that includes a bit of pessimism, an emphasis on focus and a willingness to let out my emotions when I need. The more I wrote about these things, the more I reflected on how I’ve been able to maintain mental wellness as often as I could during the past year-plus of this pandemic.

One of the more difficult things I’ve come to terms with is that as long as we’ve been living this way, I still haven’t truly processed what we’ve gone through, and what we’re still going through. Truthfully, I’m slightly nervous of what that will look like for my mental health. But the bigger question on my mind is, how do you process something when you don’t know when it will end?

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Doing What You Need to Get What You Need

Sometimes the word productive gets on my nerves. It’s unfortunate, because in a lot of settings the word is helpful. I like thinking about the work I do in terms of productivity – whether it’s my job or passion projects on the side, it’s important that I’m productive because I love the things I do and I want my work to reflect that. But the second people started slipping the word productive into how we live our personal lives, I knew it would be something that bothered me. I can see how daily goals set around productivity and efficiency can help someone accomplish many things, but in my experience, that sort of mindset never helped me get what I needed to be mentally healthy.

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I Can’t Always Do More – And That’s Okay

In a surge of excitement earlier this week, I decided I’d go get a haircut in-person for the first time in more than a year. The pandemic and my anxiety are the main reasons I haven’t done so already, and while I didn’t regret that at all, I got excited because I found a place to go that I might feel more comfortable in, that wasn’t as busy and didn’t have as much going on. But then things shifted.

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The Difficulty of Putting Mental Wellness First

Mental wellness is one of my favorite things to talk and learn about. Because of that, I’ve learned a lot about the ways that people incorporate mental wellness into their day-to-day lives. From therapy and meditation to physical exercise and coping strategies, there are plenty of ways that we tangibly put our wellness first. However, focusing on mental wellness in our daily lives isn’t as easy at it sounds. Why? Simply put, life happens – and that’s okay.

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Why I Don’t Always See My Mental Health Progress

When I was in the midst of managing a string of anxiety attacks a few weeks ago, I couldn’t think about much else that was going on that day. Fortunately I didn’t have work or any set plans since it was the weekend, but my anxious symptoms made me feel as though the entire day was a wash. But having some time to look back that day, I now realize that I handled the situation much better than I would have in the past. I still didn’t enjoy those symptoms and feelings of anxiety and depression in the moment, but I could see the progress I’ve made with a little hindsight. Unfortunately, it takes time to notice that progress, which can be hard to see when you’re in a difficult mental health situation.

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Changing My Perspective to Improve My Mental Wellness

The inspiration for this post came a few days ago. I was riding a stationary bike at my girlfriend’s for the second day in a row, and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to get out of it. The day before, I slogged through the ride, feeling like I wasn’t really getting what I needed. I didn’t think I had the mindset to do that again, so I decided to adjust everything on the bike – and I mean everything. The seat, the handlebars, the resistance on the pedals. I ended up having one of the best workouts I’d had in a few weeks. When I was done, I immediately thought about the connection between this workout, my mental health, and how perspective is allowed to change and adapt when it comes to our wellness.

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