March Wellness Tips

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Spring is coming! The days are getting longer and we can feel change coming in the air. If you are like me, the winter months in the Northwest can be long and grueling, leaving us ravenous for a good strong dose of vitamin D. Thankfully, Spring Break is just around the corner, but between now and then there are assignments to complete, exams to sit, papers to write, and presentations to give, which often give way to feelings of anxiety and depression. With the change of seasons in view, there are new opportunities for making some healthy changes to better care for yourself.

Studies show that consistent exercise leads to a decrease in anxiety and depression, improves cognitive functioning, increases feelings of self-esteem, and improves restful sleep. The improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain which results in positive physiological changes.

If you find that you are constantly under stress, feeling anxious, struggling with low self-esteem, or having a hard time concentrating, consider incorporating exercise into your life. Keep in mind that it is often hard to feel motivated when we’re not feeling at our best, so here are a few tips:

Make a commitment to start out slowly. Set a small goal that challenges you and not one that results in discouragement. Thirty minutes of exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for 3 days a week, is enough to gain positive health benefits. Three 10-minute walks are believed to be as equally useful as one 30-minute walk, so broaden how you think of exercise and find ways to fit it into your daily routine. Add small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little farther away from your work to fit in a short walk, or if you live close to your job, consider biking to work.

Invite a friend. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others, which also improves mood and decreases social isolation. Just being with others and engaging in a positive activity can contribute to better mental health. Invite a friend to take a walk along the lake, play frisbee on the lawn, or challenge them to a game of tennis. We are blessed to live in an area that provides a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities, so take advantage of it!

Have fun! Engage in activities that you enjoy. You will be more successful with your goals if you choose activities that feel refreshing to you. Don’t force yourself to run if you don’t enjoy running. There are plenty of ways to achieve your goal, so keep your mind open to all of the opportunities that are available to you.

Keep in mind that exercise is just one strategy to relieve anxiety and depression. If you would benefit from talking to someone about how you’ve been feeling, the Wellness Center staff would be happy to meet with you!

~Sara and the Wellness Center Team

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