Written by Natalie Krug Wierda, PT, DPT
Stress, anxiety, depression & other mental health issues have no doubt been hot topics over the last year in our Covid-19 world. There is overwhelming evidence that exercise can help to overcome some of those feelings. Most people already know this but still fail to put themselves first in lots of areas of their lives, not just with exercise. Our society is built on an idea of being gracious and putting others needs before ourselves. I’m here to say that putting yourself first isn’t selfish!
Stress Impacts Health
In physical therapy, I frequently see patients that are overwhelmed with the circumstances of their everyday lives. They come to therapy with an injury but also present with additional family stress, work stress, financial stress-the list goes on and on.
This in turn impacts their overall health, ability to heal from injury and also puts strain on their personal relationships.
One of the most common mistakes I see is the failed ability of a patient to put themself first! This only heightens the negative feelings and stress felt from day to day. It’s important to put ourselves first sometimes. It doesn’t matter how you do that and it doesn’t have to be in the form of exercise (let’s be honest, I know a lot of people don’t like to exercise!).
You can find joy and release from stress and anxiety in the simplest of ways!
So what can you do to help?
- Make a list. Make a list of the things you like doing with your time and set aside time to actually do them! It can be simple things like: looking through old photos and reminiscing on happy times, taking a bubble bath, spending time with children or grandchildren, baking or cooking your favorite recipe-again there are no rules here! It can be any activity that you enjoy!
- Take a break from social media. Research shows social media increases feelings of inadequacy & dissatisfaction. This in turn makes us feel more depressed and more anxiety ridden and less able to focus on ourselves and our relationships.
- Focus on the things that mean the most to you. For me, it’s spending quality time with my family. When I’m happy they are happy. Putting my focus on them eases my stress and eases feelings of negativity.
- Take a break, period. Sometimes life gets you to a point of burnout and that’s ok! It’s ok to take a break, it’s ok to take a step back, it’s ok to say I need to make a change, it’s ok to ask for help from those around you. The ones who love you want you to be happy and want to see you be your best!
It’s not tough to understand these concepts but it has to be a choice you make to put yourself first! If you can accomplish even some of these tasks, I promise you that you’re going to improve yourself, your overall health and your relationships!