We humans are an entity of interconnected parts, and our well-being is built around our physical, mental and social needs. Physical activity is a case in point as it affects all of them.
In terms of mental well-being, physical activity boosts energy, it can take our mind off negative thoughts, and it can be a great way to build and maintain relationships.
Physical exercise has also been shown to improve stress management and relieve anxiety, and is recommended in the treatment of depression. Regular exercise can also improve sleep, which is essential for our overall well-being.
So it makes sense to think of physical activity as a way of taking care of our well-being. Listening to our body is a great way to practise recognizing and responding to our needs.
Our body automatically informs us of feelings such as fatigue, stress and strength, and prompts us to respond to them. These bodily needs may vary from one day to the next or according to our life situation, and not all life experiences can be controlled. When we come down with a cold even when we’d prefer to stay healthy, or feel tired when we’d like to be bursting with energy, we are faced with accepting imperfection. This allows us to learn important skills such as showing empathy and compassion in relation to the situation and perhaps even toward ourselves.
The ability to recognize and respond to our needs and, when necessary, to accept imperfection is important for our mental health and can be practised. For our own well-being, it is important to learn how to recognize when to speed up and when to slow down in response to our physical, mental and social needs.
You may ask yourself what kind of exercise your body and mind would benefit from today. Or do you perhaps feel you need a break and some self-care in the form of heating the sauna, running a bath, or asking a friend for a relaxing massage?
Tip: for more information on relaxation and gentle exercise, read our article “Gentle exercise.”
More good links (in Finnish):
Liikunta ja mielenterveys (“Exercise and mental health”) – UKK-instituutti
Liikunta ja mielenterveyden häiriöt (“Exercise and mental disorders”) – UKK-instituutti
Liikunta ja depressio (“Exercise and depression”) (kaypahoito.fi)
Liikunta – kehon kuunteleminen (“Exercise – listening to your body”) | MIELI Suomen Mielenterveys ry