Is Stretching Good for My Mental Health?

What is mental health?

Mental health is basically how we think, act, and feel.

It encompasses our thoughts and feelings, and it is a major component of our overall health. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so it is important to check in on yourself regularly.

Keep an eye on your sleeping patterns, overall mood, and general tone of your thoughts. If there is a major shift in any of these areas, it is worth reaching out to a licensed counsellor or your doctor.

 

Why is stretching good for my mental health?

It’s an easy exercise to do.

Often, on a bad mental health day, it’s hard to have the desire to do much of anything, much less strenuous physical activity. This is why stretching is so great- it allows you to move your body in a low-intensity way, without the need for fancy equipment or clothing. All you really need is enough space to move.

 

It can relieve pain.

One of the possible causes of feeling off is that your body isn’t feeling right. You notice the pain, which creates negative thoughts, which can cause you to focus on the tightness, which accentuates the issue, which ends up creating a negative feedback loop. Stretching helps to relieve muscle and joint pain, which can help you to improve your overall mood and emotions.

 

Stretching can help you to interrupt unhelpful thought paths.

Mental health concerns can seem overwhelming when a negative thought cycle continues unbroken, allowing it to build strength over time. Stretching, or any physical exercise, can help to break the thought cycle, which can weaken it over time. Disrupting disempowering thought patterns helps you to improve the strength of your mental health.

 

Finishing a workout grants you a sense of accomplishment.

On rough mental health days, many tasks can feel overwhelming, making you feel incapable. By allowing yourself to finish anything, you start to teach your brain that you are capable of doing things. Even doing a 3-minute stretching routine means that you achieved exercise today, which means today was a success.

 

Stretching offers you mindful movement.

When you are stretching or doing yoga, you are often focused completely on the stretch at hand. You notice how your body is feeling and moving in that second. It allows your racing mind to quiet and for you to embrace a quiet moment of peace.

Enhance your stretching session by optimizing your space to encourage your peace of mind. Listen to music or open a window to let the fresh air in. Any element that makes you feel good and acts as a reset will help you to feel better.

 

Stretching is a form of stress relief.

Physical activity is a great way for your body to reduce stress and good endorphins through your body. Stretching relieves tension and is a way to physically work through any difficult emotions you may be experiencing.

 

A woman stretches her leg over her head while wearing headphones.

 

What else can I do to improve my mental health?

Make sure you’re hydrated and have eaten recently.

Dehydration and hunger can have a huge impact on your mood and overall mental health.

Be sure to nourish your body, especially if you notice yourself getting upset easily at the people around you. Find healthy but appealing snacks to help to restore your mood.

Becoming dehydrated also affects your brain clarity, so sip on water throughout the day to keep yourself functioning as best as you can.

 

Get enough sleep.

Unfortunately, conditions like insomnia and other sleeping disorders are common when your mental health declines or you have a mental illness. This is why it is important to take your sleep hygiene seriously and to see a doctor if you are unable to sleep properly.

 

Socialize and talk to someone.

Whether it is going for a walk with a family member, grabbing coffee with a friend, or talking to a psychologist, interacting with another person will help stabilize your mental health.

 

Practice good hygiene.

Showering can act as a mental reset, clean clothes will help you feel put together, and washing your hands helps to promote overall good health.

 

Take breaks- both while working and in everyday life.

Powering through non-stop may feel productive or necessary, but it sets you up for a burnout or a mental breakdown. Take small breaks while you work and be sure to give yourself time to slow down and do what you enjoy every day.

 

Be creative.

Doodle in a journal, make music, or bake a cake. Anything that allows you to create and to express your emotions is a great outlet. You don’t have to paint the next Starry Night or share your felted frogs with anyone if you don’t want to. Simply being creative allows your mind and body to work through emotions and thoughts you may struggle to put words to.

 

A person sits under a slanted window, reading while sipping on tea.

 

 

There are many elements that you can do to improve your mental health and all these suggestions double as proactive measures to keep you feeling your best. If you have any additional tips you would like to recommend, be sure to reach out to us at team@westretch.ca!

 

Any links included are for reference, additional information, or entertainment value only, without monetary compensation. Contact us on social media or at team@westretch.ca. Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.

 

Written by Kayla Willsey