Our mission at Physique 57 is to not only sculpt and strengthen your beautiful body, but also to nurture your incredible mind and spirit! In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we’re sharing 7 simple steps you can take every day to care for yourself from the inside out.
Move your body
A Physique 57 sweat sesh not only tones your body — it also fuels and nourishes your mind. You’ll finish your workout feeling less stressed and more energized, confident, and empowered! Years of research has proven the mental health perks of exercise. A study from Harvard University showed that exercise can reduce the risk of depression by 26% ¹. Another study found that people who exercised regularly reported a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to those who didn’t work out ².
Exercise helps the brain build new neural pathways that bring on feelings of calm and happiness. It also releases endorphins, powerful brain chemicals that give you a boost of bliss ³. You know when you leave class feeling so accomplished and on top of the world? That’s what we’re talking about!
Deepen (or start) your meditation practice
A regular meditation practice quiets the mind, brings your attention to the present moment, and gives you a deep sense of centeredness, balance, and peace. Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness relieves stress ⁴ ⁵. Meditation helps lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while releasing mood-boosting hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin ⁶.
If you’re new to meditation, ease into it. Start with just 5 minutes a day and work your way up to longer. You can do guided meditations or simply listen to soothing music and focus on your breathing. If your mind starts to race or thoughts come up, don’t judge yourself — this happens to everyone and you’re not doing it “wrong.” Simply take notice of the thoughts and feelings that come up for you without judgement and gently release them in your mind. Your meditation practice will start to feel more natural as you, well, practice it!
You’ll feel happier and more energized when you nourish your body with healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. Certain foods have also been shown to have mood-boosting benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are linked to lower levels of depression ⁷. Foods high in vitamin B6 (think: bananas, salmon, and sweet potatoes) help synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin ⁸. And dark chocolate releases several mood-boosting compounds such as theobromine and N-acylethanolamine ⁹ — just in case you needed another reason to eat chocolate!
Have your moment in the sun
Soak in the sunshine! Research shows that sunlight can boost serotonin production, which brightens your mood ¹⁰. Plus, the sun synthesizes vitamin D (aka the “sunshine vitamin”), and vitamin D has been linked to lower levels of depression ¹¹.
Take a break from your workday to get outside and stroll around your neighborhood. Remember to wear SPF to protect your beautiful skin! Also, watch out for artificial blue light from computer and phone screens, which can increase cortisol levels and zap your energy. There are lots of options for cute and affordable blue light blocking glasses.
Grab your journal
Journaling is a powerful outlet to express your emotions, reflect on your experiences, practice positive self-talk, and release thoughts or feelings that aren’t serving you. Research consistently shows that journaling has a positive impact on mental health ¹².
You can journal in whatever way feels healing to you — there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Some practices we love:
- Free writing: Write whatever comes to mind without editing or judging your thoughts. You can also free draw if that feels more intuitive for you.
- Gratitude journaling: Write down 3 specific things you’re grateful for each day and why you’re grateful for them.
Disconnect to connect
So many of us are on our phones and computers all day long. Give yourself permission to disconnect from your devices in order to reconnect with yourself. Unplugging from technology helps you be more mindful in the present moment, deepen your connection with those around you, and become more in tune with your own feelings and instincts.
Take a digital detox day or weekend where you turn your phone off and enjoy other activities you love — go on a hike or long walk, be present in nature, read, take a bubble bath, and spend time with loved ones with no distractions. You’ll feel so refreshed after!
Dance it out
Whether it’s pulsing in a Physique workout class or having a dance party in your living room, dancing is amazing for your mind and soul! Research shows that dance can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and keep your mind sharp ¹³.