How Exercise Can Help Your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Qualified Yoga Teacher and Sound Healer Mel Love talks about how moving the body can have a hugely beneficial impact on our mental wellbeing.  

The human body is an incredible tool, the container as such that we live in that allows us to experience life. Our strength lies in using all of what we have been given rather than fragmenting parts of ourselves into separate pieces and focusing on just one part alone like for instance the mind. I do not believe that one part of us is isolated from another so the overall condition of ourselves and how we move through life must be considered holistically to achieve good health.

How we move the body is an incredibly important part of taking care of ourselves and is just as important as stillness and rest. I like how the word exercise was described in the late 14c as “to make use of”. Also, in the mid-14c it was simply described as a “condition of being in active operation”.  

Quite simply, we are designed to move. The body is a tool available to us that we can utilise to move through things, literally. I like to think of exercise as a way to connect with more of our natural, innate healing capabilities. Sometimes when we are feeling anxious, we start to hold our breath and become motionless and start thinking things over and over in our minds. We start to focus on the thinking aspect of solving a problem alone and when we cannot think of a solution we start to spiral further and further into a state of disempowerment. I would like to equate this to using a fork to eat soup when we have a perfectly good spoon available, more appropriate for the job.

At times like this we are only utilising one part of our many skills. We are using thinking alone to try and feel better. At times like this I think that moving the body helps and I think moving the body in a way that feels like you are taking care of yourself is important. For some people that might be swimming or yoga or tennis to name a few activities. I don’t think the type of activity matters but rather how it allows you to connect with your body in a way that feels like you are being kind and inclusive to all the parts of you, from your head to your toes. I think it is important to feel the connection with your whole structure as you move. When we can connect with our bodies through movement and feel the shift of emotions happening it can feel empowering. Not to mention how our bodies get stronger when we make it a regular practice to repeat the activities that bring us joy.

It is my experience that we start to move with more ease through life when we feel supported by our human design. Learning to move the body in a way in which we can literally reshape it gives us a sense that we really can have an impact and influence not only ourselves but the world around us. When we take care of ourselves it inspires others around us to do the same. To look in the mirror and see how exercise changes our bodies can be such a positive experience. I believe it gives us hope that we do have control over ourselves and how we experience life.  

When we get stuck in a thinking cycle, going round and round in the mind, it can feel like we are in a cage and disconnected from the world around us. It makes it much harder to find a solution or to feel free to enjoy the moment. Take for example when you forget something and you try so hard to remember and you try to think, think, think and then you give up and do something else and then boom, you remember what it was you were trying to remember.  That is because when we utilise the whole body and its capabilities, we receive the answers we want and need.

Let’s try it now. Choose a way to move your body. Perhaps it is jumping up and down on the spot or having a little dance. Count to 10 as you do it. Then stop for a moment and notice how you feel. Notice your heartbeat and any other sensations in the body. Let’s do that one more time. Move your body and count to 10. Stop when you get to 10 and observe how it feels to be in your body. Try to be still. Take a few deep breaths and use your imagination to feel like your breath is circulating around your whole body. Next time you get stuck in a thought, move, literally move your body and notice how it changes things. You’ve got this! Your body is your superpower.

With love x Mel