Pilates for Mental Health
Written by Krystal Rowland
Most of us have experienced times in our lives when we have felt flat or down, are plagued by worrying thoughts, stressed by work, finances and life in general. As winter is kicking in to full swing, sometimes it can be challenging to ward off the blues. One of the most important things we can do for our mental health, is to be active.
When we exercise, this stimulates chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and noradrenaline to be released. These chemicals help improve your mood, and also help parts of the brain which are responsible for memory, learning, focus and attention. Regularly exercising can also help relieve the tension caused from stress that builds up gradually over a period of time. This means exercise will not only make you feel better, it will increase you efficiency at work / home.
Doing exercise such as group Pilates, allows you to change your environment and meet and interact with people who are also seeking to improve their health and well-being. This can be quite motivating and inspirational and it can also help to reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness.
As we all hopefully know, we should be trying to catch at least 7-8 hours of shut-eye each night. Lack of sleep can result in numerous adverse issues such as a reduced immune system function, increased risk of developing diabetes, increased likelihood to have weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, poor skin quality and reduced memory function. Ensuring you take part in regular exercise has been found to improve the time it takes to fall asleep and remain asleep. This in turn will help with managing and improving your mental health.
While participating in activities such as yoga and Pilates, you have the opportunity to tune in to the present moment and practice Mindfulness (to completely attend to what is happening in the present, aware of where we are and what we are doing). You can focus on your breathing, and the feelings of each muscle and joint when doing specific exercises and stretches, which will interrupt the constant bombardment of worries and stress caused by anxiety and depression. It can help you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts and give you a sense of calm, strength, and well-being.
So this winter, ensure you remain active to give your mental health a boost.