We all know that movement is an important part of health and wellness. Hopefully, we also know that this is not just about exercise or performance. Especially in January, the “wellness” industry and its marketing machine tends to inundate us with messages about “wellness.” Well, their definition of wellness is designed to make you buy things by making you feel negatively about yourself. As a marketing strategy, it works really well. As a mental health strategy, not so much.
In 2023, I hope each of you is able to set goals/intentions/resolutions/etc. and fill your own cup while doing so. We all know you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Here are the links to the rest of the series!
Reflection – 1/3/23
Rest – 1/6/23
Today’s post will be about Movement
Movement for Mental Health
If you are going to engage in healthy movement as part of your mental health management, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- More than anything else, it is important to do things you enjoy
- Moderate, consistent exercise is most helpful
- Being outside and/or engaging with others enhances the mood boosting and anxiety reducing effects of exercise
- For ideal serotonin production, you would want to do 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise followed by 20 minutes of mindfulness or meditation activity
- Too much exercise can increase cortisol levels (stress hormone) and actually backfire
- Yoga and tai chi are especially helpful for managing anxiety
My version of healthy movement
Everyone has different motivations, interpretations, and things that work best for them. For me, healthy movement means making sure that I can keep doing the things I want to do, preferably into my old age. This means doing yoga, walking, running up & down stairs (I want to be able to climb Machu Picchu like my mom did in her 70’s), 7 minute/6 minute/joy workouts, an adjustable desk, and otherwise using the things I already have to make sure I can keep moving. In the fall, I had a bout with back pain that made me reevaluate some of the things I was doing and prompted me to put yoga back in my rotation. It also prompted me to schedule regular massage therapy – which I put on my 2023 goals list.
If does not mean:
- Pushing myself to do more
- Working out every day
- Changing my body’s appearance
- Doing things that hurt
- Compensatory behavior (like restricting food intake or punishing myself in any way) when I do not exercise
- Sacrificing other things I enjoy in favor of exercise or movement
- Buying in to wellness/exercise/diet fads (in fact, I enjoy debunking them)
As a therapist, I see more unhealthy attitudes about movement than healthy ones. Many of these ideas come from the marketing machine. In the US, people spend over $65 billion a year on dieting – globally, it is at least $142 billion. This industry does not work if it is successful – and that is only one reason why we are not going to change the food, fashion, wellness, or diet industries unless we start thinking critically about the strategies they are using to convince us to buy their products.
- is all or nothing
- allows for very few or no rest days
- must meet certain requirements to “count”
- doesn’t include breaks or time off for sick days or injuries
- feels like something you have to or are expected to do
- takes priority over other things in life (relationships, rest, socializing, etc.)
- causes you to feel upset or anxious if you miss a workout
- determines what you are allowed to eat based on activity level or calories burned
There are a lot of potential definitions of healthy movement or exercise. Here are just a few:
- Physical therapy to recover from or prevent injury
- Body Mechanics
- Exercise Guidelines – includes cardiovascular activity and strength training, as well as functional movement for older adults
- Intuitive – if movement helps you feel connected to your body, is respectful of your body’s limits, and changes based on your needs
- Physical Literacy in kids
- Eating Disorder Recovery Guidelines for Movement
What would be “healthy movement” for you? Think about how you want to function, what you enjoy, what your goals are, and what you are likely to be consistent with!
See you later this week for “rituals” in the Fill Your Cup series!