Many people who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, trauma, and other other mental health problems. Physical activity also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can be a powerful tool to feel better (Help Guide, 2019).
Exercising is an effective way to break the physical and emotional cycles of stress. It releases endorphins in the brain and helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so will your mind.
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out. Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects. Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.
Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.
Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up and-go. Start off with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workout as you feel more energized.
When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress (Help Guide, 2020).
Finances can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for people. Whether you are living pay cheque to pay cheque or are concerned about setting enough money aside for the future, this stress can add up and negatively impact your mental health. If this is your experience, you are not alone.
There are many sources of financial stress, including:
Remember, financial stress affects working Canadians of all income levels and age groups (Government of Canada, 2019).
A variety of information if you'd like to apply for awards and scholarships or funding, and learn more about financial wellness.
Housing is a basic human right and requirement for good health.
Housing a necessary element in our hierarchy of needs. To be able to focus on our mental health, we must make sure all of our basic needs are met. It is difficult to focus on healing ourselves when we do not a roof over our heads, in which to feel safe and secure. Housing is an essential need for all individuals in order to maintain a healthy and balanced physical and mental well-being..
Provides quality, secure, and affordable housing for people with mental illness and/or low income.
Help for students to find alternate options within Red Deer and surrounding areas.
Provides homelessness prevention for Indigenous individuals, couples or families at risk of losing their housing or who have been homeless for less than three months.
Provides community housing or rent supplements for low income individuals and families.
Nutrition and the foods you eat, can effect the way you feel physically and mentally.
Our bodies essentially have two brains, the one attached to our central nervous system and our gastrointestinal system. This is often called the 'Gut-Brain Connection'. Many individuals who suffer from anxiety or high stress, tend to have gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach pains, or nausea, and vice versa. The way we eat and the way we take care of our mental health, could alleviate both physical and mental health symptoms.
Further more, researchers are starting to find connections between nutrition and mental health in three different areas:
In a study published by Harvard Health Publishing (2018), researchers found that the risk of depression was 25-35% lower in individuals who ate a Mediterranean or Japanese diet--high amounts of vegetables, fruit, seafood and unprocessed grains with modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They also consumed limited or low amounts of processed foods and refined foods/sugars.
Food is also a necessary element in our hierarchy of needs. To be able to focus on our mental health, we must make sure all of our basic needs are met. It is difficult to focus on healing ourselves when our main focus becomes getting our essential needs met. Having a healthy, nutritional diet is not a cure, but a step in creating balance and healing within ourselves (CAHM 2018, Harvard Health Publishing 2020, & John Hopkins Medicine 2020).
Provides information on food choices, eating habits, nutrition tips and different recipes.
The Students’ Association of Red Deer College operates a Student Food Bank on campus, which provides support to students experiencing food insecurity. You can access this service by going to the Student Connect Center or clicking the application above.
Provides emergency food requirements for those in need.
Provides information and resources on how to access a dietitian and nutritional services offered by Alberta Health Services
It’s no secret that sleep plays an important role in good physical and mental health. Research suggests that the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. Sleep problems can lead to changes in mental health, but mental health conditions can also worsen problems with sleep. Sleep deprivation can leave individuals feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences as well.
Poor sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with even relatively minor stress. Daily hassles can turn into major sources of frustration. You might find yourself feeling frazzled, short-tempered, and frustrated by everyday annoyances. Poor sleep itself can even turn into a source of stress.
Findings ways to improve sleep quality and quantity can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of stress. This does not mean that getting more sleep is a cure or quick-fix, but getting better sleep can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan (Very Well Mind, 2020).
Here are a list of things you can do to improve your sleep.
Keep track of your sleep habits and strategies used.
Learn how to adopt good sleep habits and practice healthy sleep hygiene.
A list of ten tips to help have a better sleep.
Red Deer College Counselling Services
100 College Boulevard
PO Box 5005
Red Deer, AB T4N 5H5
Counselling Services Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
*extended hours on Wednesday until 6 pm
Closed Saturday, Sunday,
and all Statutory Holidays
Red Deer College recognizes that our campus is situated on Treaty 7 land, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda peoples, and that the central Alberta region we serve falls under Treaty 6, traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux territory. We honour the First Peoples who have lived here since time immemorial, and we give thanks for the land where RDC sits. This is where we will strive to honour and transform our relationships with one another.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).