30 Minutes in 30 Days! Improving Your Mental Health with Physical Movement and Regulation Exercises

World Mental Health Day!

Originally Posted on October 10, 2012 by BJ Howell.

The temperatures are falling…and with a chill in the air we know that the holidays are around the corner. The festivities between October and January are fast approaching and much to my delight that means time with family/friends, home cooked meals and good laughs. For many of us it also means the beginning of a stressful season with all of the rushing, making arrangements, cooking and cleaning that occurs during this time of the year.  And let’s face it, sometimes, having to be around family is an enjoyment that can easily turn into a stressor.

This is also the time that the “winter blues” rears its head.  Some symptoms of “winter blues” (or seasonal affective disorder) are feelings of sadness and depression that occurs when the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter.  If you have been diagnosed with or think you may have SAD, please reach out to your doctor or your local mental health community as they can help you through this time.  However, whether it’s stress or “winter blues”, now is a good time to think about a plan of action.

My thought is…why not implement a good habit that will help you through the upcoming months and with every day stressors as well?  Now, before the rush and madness hits, is the time to put something in place.   I have made it through my 1st 30 Day Challenge, with great success.  There were some close calls, but overall it was a good experience.   Now, with the holiday season approaching, I am venturing on to another challenge.  This one is just as difficult, AND, I intend on making a habit out of it.  They say it takes 21 days to a month to create a habit, so I am setting out to prove (or disprove) that fact and in process improve my mental and physical health.

This challenge requires taking time for myself.  How often do we create time for all the things that life throws our way; taking care of the kids, the spouse, work, errands, parents, siblings, friends, etc.  But when do we take the time to make sure that we are okay?  Women definitely fall victim to this deadly sin, however, I have found that men fall victim too.  As adults, we get so wrapped up in what is going on around us that sometimes that we don’t even realize that we need attention until we are snapping at the kids or honking the horn in a fit of road rage.  If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know that too much stress can be dangerous.  If you are dealing with seasonal depression, it is even harder to take care your own health needs simply because everything seems more difficult and draining.

So what is this 30 Day Challenge?  I’m calling it “30 minutes in 30 days”.   For those who would like to join me in this challenge, you can alter it in any way you would like.  If you already have a physical exercise routine going you can work on adding a mental regulation activity like breath work, meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc. to your day. Physical exercise coupled with a relaxation regime is ideal for overall health and well-being.  You can follow me on twitter for weekly tips, post comments to get some support or just do it!

Getting Started

1. Get as much natural light as you can.  Open blinds, practice your relaxation/regulation activity outside or exercise outside.

2. Connect with positive people.

3. Plan your day (and your activity).

**Feel free to use the relaxation exercise above**

I will be starting my challenge with a 5 minute relaxation exercise and a 10 minute walk. This is my choice.  I normally like to take very short power walks to get my body moving and my brain energized.  This works for me.  You may want to start with a full 20 minute walk or 20 minutes of a planned relaxation/regulation exercise like those listed above.  It is up to you.  The goal is to be up to 30 minutes in 30 days. How you get there depends on you. How you stay there is another blog…

Be Empowered!

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