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Mental Health Month
Wellness
Published Friday May 18, 2018 by Dr. Ellie Cobb

Is Movement Beneficial for Your Mental Health?

Expert Advice
Meditation
Fitness
Personal Growth

Are you ready to exercise your body and your mind? Movement and brain health are inherently interconnected, and research suggests that physical exercise is just as beneficial for the brain as it is for the body. While the brain is the control center for the body, the body also directly impacts the functionality and health of the brain. Engaging in exercise can reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, boost self-esteem, minimize stress, and enhance cognitive functioning. 


Moving the body literally boosts the brain. Here are a five ways movement can benefit your mental health:

 

Mental health month

 


Increases brain size. Not only does exercise make the existing brain structures healthier, it can increase the size of the brain. Exercise stimulates the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which facilitates the growth of new connections in the brain and improves the health of existing neurons. High-intensity aerobic exercise has been found to increase the volume of the brain regions associated with memory, reasoning, and learning. 

Prevents memory loss. Moving increases oxygen and blood circulation throughout the body, including in the brain. Improved blood circulation in the brain translates to elevated mood and cognitive functioning. Studies show that working out twice a week can prevent the cognitive decline that typically happens with age, like memory loss and brain functionality. 

Improves sleep. Mindful movement and aerobic exercise indirectly boost mental health by improving sleep patterns—both in the quality and quantity of sleep. Engaging in fitness during the day increases the amount of time spent in deep sleep during the night. Spending more time in the restorative sleep stage not only enhances your immune system functionality, it can help manage stress and anxiety.

 

Mental health month

 

Reduces anxiety and depression. Physical exercise produces an anti-anxiety effect in the brain. Both aerobic and mindful movement, like yoga, help to activate and replenish GABA, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the body’s response to stress. Regular exercise both decreases and prevents depression—helping the body and brain to relax and de-stress. 

Boosts mood. Working out enhances chemicals in the brain—like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine—that are associated with improved mood and decreased stress. When we boost our heart rate, our body releases endorphins, resulting in a boost of energy and improved mood. By exercising, your mood can be significantly enhanced by the brain learning to naturally produce these mood-enhancing substances, reducing the stress hormone cortisol

 
What impacts our body impacts our brain and vice-versa. Exercise is essential to mental wellness. By working out, we can change and boost our brain functions and structure, helping to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve enhanced cognitive functioning, mood, and energy. While it’s always important to recognize that each individual responds uniquely to exercise, using physical movement as a mechanism can enhance our brain for optimal wellness. 

Dr. Ellie Cobb
Written by
Dr. Ellie Cobb
Contributor | Holistic Psychologist
About the author
A Columbia University trained clinical psychologist, Ellie's approach is grounded in scientifically-backed, evidence-based methods. As a certified mindfulness meditation teacher, she works both inside and outside the therapy room to help others heal, and most importantly, thrive in their lives.
female massage therapist massaging client in spa
Beauty
Published Wednesday Dec 23, 2020 by Denise Prichard

Unexpected Looks and Learnings from 2020

To put it bluntly—2020 was a real bummer. When we entered the year, we all had that “20/20 vision” mindset of making the year one of travel, joy, discovering new hobbies, and conquering our fitness goals. But come March, that vision became a blurry mess of sheltering-in-place and being forced to throw our normal routines and our aspirations out the window.  

Who would have thought that something like getting a haircut would be off-limits? Or that those monthly massages wouldn’t be around to help us unwind? 2020 forced us to get creative, and you blew us away with your stick-to-itiveness. 

We recently polled you on Instagram to see which beauty and wellness services you missed the most and how you’ve re-vamped your self-care routines to stay sane during this train wreck of a year. And I must say, as I read your responses in my sweats, rocking the messiest top knot of all time, I definitely felt like I need to take it up a notch when it comes to getting ready for the workday.  

Seriously—an alarming number of you have been on point when it comes to sticking to your daily morning routines and actually wearing work clothes while on Zoom calls. Kudos to you!  

Curious to see what the takeaways were from our Instagram poll? Keep reading.

Takeaway #1: All beauty services are missed equally 
beauty services missed 2020

According to your responses, you're all sick of your exposed roots and split ends equally, with 51% of you preferring to get a haircut and 49% opting for hair color. The numbers were also pretty close when it came to your nails—with 52% of you opting for a manicure over a pedicure. Due to the pandemic, the state of the beauty industry has been on a rollercoaster of openings and closings—and they need our help and support now more than ever. If you happen to live in an area where you’re able to enjoy beauty services, make sure you show your stylist or nail artist a little bit of extra love when tipping them.  

 

Takeaway #2: You miss massages, but are ready for touchless spa treatments 
touchless spa treatments

Anybody who knows me will tell you the thing I miss the most is getting a monthly massage—and 71% of you seem to agree. With most of us working from our beds or hunched over our laptops on our couches, our posture (if not our comfort) has taken a serious hit. While most of us either live in an area where massages are off-limits or we just don’t feel safe going in for one quite yet, there are some touchless spa treatments you're ready to try.  

  • 69% of you are interested in trying an infrared sauna treatment—no surprise during the cold winter months. This type of treatment uses light to directly warm your body to increase heart rate, help you sweat out the bad stuff (like all that wine we’ve been drinking), and treat chronic health problems.  
  • 31% of you are willing to brave the cold of cryotherapy. These sessions aim to decrease inflammation and speed up recovery time after an intense workout by standing in an extremely cold chamber of liquid nitrogen or dry, fresh, oxygenated air. 
  • 52% of you are down to try out salt caves. Turns out, Himalayan pink salt isn’t just for you fancy home chefs out there. By sitting in an entire room made of this salt, you can relax and potentially treat respiratory and skin issues.   
  • 48% of you are ready to suit up for a float tank sesh. If you love meditating, this is the perfect touchless spa treatment to try. Float tanks are filled with body-temperature saltwater—and they’re lightless and soundproof. You guys—I’ve tried this and it’s definitely the kind of R&R we all need right now.  
Takeaway #3: Your self-care routines are admirable 

Call it wishful thinking, but I was fully expecting most of you to say, “Zoom camera off” as your go-to beauty tip—but I guess that’s just me. Instead, you've all been pretty consistent with your morning routines—working out, showering, and dressing like you're actually going into an office. Some of you are even going the extra mile and putting on a red lip and some earrings. I’m taking notes.  

And even though this year’s challenges put a damper on our normal routines, it's inspired us to get creative with our skincare regimen. Some of you have added new serums and masks to your skincare arsenal, while others have tried out at-home facials for that quarantine glow. By far, one of the most popular answers was the incorporation of Gua Sha to help detoxify, brighten, and tighten your skin.  

This year was one for the books. But I think it made us realize there is always wellness—and that taking care of ourselves is crucial. If you're in an area where in-house beauty services are an option, book that appointment (if you feel safe to do so). If your only option right now is to stay at home, keep carrying on with your feel-good, at-home routines.  

If you're curious to see what some other wellness trends you should take note of in 2021, check out this blog 
 

denise prichard
Written by
Denise Prichard
Marketing Content Specialist
About the author
Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups.