Category: Mental Fitness

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Collecting Data on Our Own Mental Health

One minute we might feel overwhelmed and stressed, as though we’re ready to snap at the first person we see, the next we may feel perfectly calm and relaxed, as though none of that really ever happened. Everyone experiences emotional highs and lows from time to time, but sometimes it can be hard to remember exactly when we felt a certain way or what motivated that emotional response. This is especially troublesome for those individuals who experience more extreme emotional shifts, or those who have been experiencing more lows than usual. In an attempt to move on, we may force ourselves to forget our emotional experiences, even if they were negative in nature. However, this is seldom helpful when it comes to working with a therapist. The therapist is there to help guide us through our thoughts and feelings. Through this constructive relationship, we aim, at least in part, to better understand why it is we are feeling the way we do, or why we are responding to those feelings in a particular way.

How to Assess Your Mental Health

Diagnosis for mental health can be extremely helpful. While some individuals find labels to be trapping, others may feel as though they are a relief. For many, mental health diagnoses allow a direct answer to a problem. With a proper diagnosis from a therapist or other psychiatrist, it will be easier to seek treatment for whatever condition the individual struggling with. Each set of circumstances requires a different approach based on not only the condition, but the individual’s unique needs.

In order to achieve a diagnosis, symptoms must first be accurately assessed to determine what exactly is going on with each patient. In order to do this effectively, we must learn to collect data on ourselves. What does this mean? If we want an accurate diagnosis we remember our experiences so that we can give our therapist the most accurate information on our symptoms. There are numerous sources from which we can collect data on our mental health status ranging from physical to psychological.

Below are a few key ways we can provide information on ourselves and what we’re going through to our therapists or any other healthcare professional from whom we are seeking help.

1. Physical Exams

Physical exams are often the go-to method of determining whether or not there is something wrong, or an illness to be cured. Even when it comes to mental health, a physical exam can be a good way to collect important data on one’s current state and overall well-being. Oftentimes, our physical health has a strong impact on our mood. If we’re feeling unwell physically, it will reflect in our mindset and start to show in our behavior. For example, if we’re feeling as though we’re catching a cold, we certainly won’t be very happy about it. However, for more prolonged or serious illnesses there can be a stronger impact on our emotional and mental states. Anything from a vitamin deficiency to physical illness or medication side-effects could be a culprit. Overuse of certain medications can also lead to depressive effects not unlike what is experienced when consuming substances like alcohol.

2. Record Daily Mood

The only way to determine patterns in daily behavior is to record one’s mood on a regular basis. We may feel inclined to forget our “bad days” in the hopes of moving past them. But the only way to truly move past them is to understand why they’ve happened and how we can successfully move forward. We must address our needs, not ignore them. Otherwise, they’ll simply linger in the backs of our minds, waiting to snag our attention yet again. Some questions to ask may include:

  • Am I enjoying things as much as I used to?
  • Does _____ cause me to feel the same amount of happiness/pleasure/fulfillment as it has in the past?
  • Do I feel upset more often than I used to?
  • Do I feel motivated today?

If the answer to these questions is more often “no” than “yes,” that may be a tell-tale sign of a mood disorder or mental health distress.

3. Keep Track of Other Observances

Some other things we might look out for as indications that something is wrong include:

  • weight changes
  • changes in sleep cycle
  • changes in energy levels
  • negative or impairing thoughts such as those of death or suicide
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • increased likelihood of agitation

Each of these markers can help our therapist determine whether or not we are in the stages of a developing condition like Major Depressive Disorder.

Therapy Can Help Improve Mental Health

Thankfully, there are a variety of therapy options available to suit our individual needs. The key is to form a new relationship with the thoughts and feelings that previously only seemed to cause us harm. We can accomplish this by either challenging or formally disengaging with these responses. However, in any case we must first have an idea of what we’re dealing with. By collecting data, we can acutely describe the symptoms we’re experiencing. From that, therapists and other healthcare professional can come up with a more accurate diagnosis. Only when we know what we’re dealing with can we determine what we need to move on.

To learn more about scheduling a mental health assessment with a psychiatrist or therapist at our Boca Raton office, please call 800-378-9354.
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Five Common Misconceptions About Practicing Mindfulness

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the many and varied benefits of mindfulness, particularly for those struggling with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness has been shown to assist in improving one’s mental and physical health. In fact, according to survey results from a 2011 research article titled “Doing and Being: Mindfulness, Health, and Quiet Ego Characteristics Amongst Buddhist Practitioners,” published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, there are 5 key ways that mindfulness training can improve our overall wellbeing. 

  • Reducing stress – this can help lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression, thereby allowing us to ultimately feel happier.
  • Improving our social relationships with others, including family, friends, and even strangers.
  • Strengthening our immune systems due to lessened physiological stress and negative emotional impact.
  • Increasing our self-awareness. Helping us become flexible, clear, and practical towards our realities. This also allows us to pay better attention to our consciousness in the present and address our needs as they arise.
  • Opening us up to new, diverse experiences. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce feelings of paranoia and neuroticism, thereby enabling us to try new things without feeling limited by fear or worry.

However, despite the multiple benefits of practicing mindfulness, there are a few misconceptions that seem to persist regarding the practice. These misconceptions can misrepresent what exactly mindfulness is as well as how it works. Thus, in order to better understand mindfulness and the subsequent practice of mindfulness therapy, we should learn to recognize and distinguish between the facts and myths associated with mindfulness.

Below are 5 of the most commonly held misconceptions about mindfulness and mindfulness-based treatments:

Mindfulness is a Fringe Practice 

Perhaps one of the most harmful myths is that mindfulness is a fringe practice, almost on par with cultish behavior. However, in the last couple of decades, mindfulness-based treatments have served as somewhat of a “third wave” in cognitive-behavioral treatment. As such, many practitioners, including Dr. Seth Gillihan, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, are supporters of this method.

Despite its connections to the often decried “new age” spirituality that has been growing in popularity as of late, mindfulness remains its own distinct practice. That being said, many religions may incorporate mindfulness into their teachings and methods, but the act of being mindful is accessible to everyone, regardless of spirituality or lack thereof. As Dr. Gillihan explains : “mindfulness is available to everyone at every time, and is as normal as breathing.”

Mindfulness is Religious

Building off of our previous point, many individuals insist that mindfulness is strictly religious. However, this isn’t true. As we’ve discussed, many religions do incorporate mindfulness or some variation into their practices. This often leads to the assumption that one must be affiliated with a particular religion, or with religion in general, in order to benefit from mindfulness itself.

That being said, although many religions practice some form of mindfulness, the concept itself is not inherently biased towards any one religion. You do not have to follow any particular religion, nor do you have to be religious at all, to benefit from mindfulness or mindfulness-based treatments. Dr. Gillihan adds that “Whatever our beliefs and values, we can practice them more fully through a mindful approach.”

Practicing Mindfulness Means You Are Weak

Yet another toxic belief is that mindfulness, or similar methods that advocate mind-over-matter and/or the unification of the body and mind, are weak. For some, mindfulness represents failing to take a stance on an issue, thereby being too passive or “wishy-washy.” This argument comes from a perspective that equates strength with fighting, rather than with fortifying one’s own psychological resilience.

Recognizing this, it’s important to realize that mindfulness, despite any outward appearances of ease, can actually be a challenging process. This is because practicing mindfulness includes letting go of well-established habits, mindsets, and behaviors. This process of letting go can be especially hard. Learning to relinquish the past and focus our energies on improving our futures is anything but weak. In fact, by practicing mindfulness, we are directing our strength and resolve towards ways that serve us, rather than fighting without any direction.

Mindfulness Contradicts Science

Similar to the belief that mindfulness is inherently religious, there are some who may argue that mindfulness actually contradicts science. Luckily, this misunderstanding is one of the easiest to dispel. This is because a large number of studies, many of which were quite rigorous, have proven the effectiveness of mindfulness and mindfulness-based treatments. In essence, the scientific foundation for practicing mindfulness is very strong; certainly strong enough to prove that the practice itself has legitimate benefits rather than acting on a sort of placebo effect.

Mindfulness is just Meditation

This misconception is one of the more understandable: many people assume that mindfulness just means meditation. The reason for this is obvious – meditation is one of the most common forms of mindfulness practice. However, although meditation is, in fact, incredibly beneficial, any activity can prove to be mindful so long as the individual is able to be reflective and act mindfully during.

Activities like holding a child, going for a walk, hammering a nail, or talking with someone can all potentially be mindful depending on the individual and how they process their present state of mind and surroundings. Practices such as meditation are more formal and, while successful, are not the only way to train ourselves to be mindful. Growing research evidence supports the idea that learning to be mindful during our daily activities can be almost just as beneficial as taking the time to properly meditate.

Exposing Mindfulness Myths Removes an Obstacle

When we dispel harmful myths such as these we ultimately open ourselves up to a new opportunity to improve ourselves and our overall wellbeing. Mindfulness can be key to removing mental and emotional barriers which keep us from living our lives in a meaningful way. Being consistent about any form of treatment, including mindfulness, can be challenging at times, but the rewards make the practice itself worth it. Therefore we need not pay heed to any misgivings about the practice which, rather than serving a constructive purpose, only exist to make us doubt ourselves and our true potential.

Call our office to learn more about child, adolescent and family therapy in Boca Raton.
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How Exercise and Mental Health are Connected

I’m sure at some point in our lives we’ve all heard something along the lines of “a healthy body makes for a healthy mind.” While this might come across as simply a nice sentiment or common sense, the research supporting this claim is fascinating. In recent years, scientists have begun to reveal more and more on how exactly our minds and bodies work together to benefit each other. Earlier we examined how building our body’s muscle strengths can improve our brains strength as well. A study conducted on twins revealed that the twin with stronger leg muscles also had stronger cognitive abilities. The results from this study indicated that how we live and how we take care of our bodies can determine how we store information, since our bodies are, in essence, one large information system. To put it simply: we are our brains. But here may be more to the correlation between mind and body may be even more intricate than we previously realized. In fact,  as it turns out, regular bodily exercise can actually alter our physical chemistry which can result in better mental health. How? The answer lies in the microbes found in our stomachs.

Is The Key to a Healthy Mind Through Our Diet?

There have been a wide number of animal studies which have revealed a definite correlation between gastrointestinal pathology and certain psycho-neurological conditions including but not limited to: autism, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. In fact, since 2013, the National Institute on Mental Health has dedicated millions of dollars towards funding seven different studies attempting to examine what scientists refer to as the “Microbiome – Gut-Brain-Axis.” These studies confirm that our brains respond to microbial signals from our guts. In one instance, researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario found that intestinal bacteria can play an important role in reducing anxiety and depression. Their findings were published in July 2015 in the scientific journal Nature Communications where they found that “MS-induced changes in host physiology lead to intestinal dysbiosis, which is a critical determinant of the abnormal behaviour that characterizes this model of early-life stress.”

In other words, the induced changes in the way the test subject’s physiology – their physical make-up –  caused an imbalance in intestinal bacteria. This, in turn, lead to abnormal behavior indicative of stress and anxiety. Another study, led by Elaine Hsiao, a biologist now working with UCLA, revealed that certain metabolites from gut microbes promote serotonin production in the cells which lined the colon. What does this mean? Well, one of the most common forms of antidepressants, SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), are purposely designed to target serotonin reuptake at the junction between neurons. Through this, they treat depression by reducing an imbalance in serotonin production that may cause it. Serotonin has been shown to improve the development of new brain cells which can alleviate depression since depression can in many cases effectively suppress this production. In essence, serotonin helps promote healing, which can ultimately lead to a sense of well being and happiness. It is interesting, then, that the majority of the body’s serotonin (around 90%)can be found in the human digestive tract, regulating gut movement.

The Relationship Between the Human Mind and Body

Currently, more research is needed to truly determine the extent of the relationship between our minds and bodies, particularly where chemicals such as serotonin are involved, since their roles are often multifaceted and complex. However, the growing body of evidence suggesting correlations between mind and matter is fascinating and can help us discover new ways to improve our overall health and wellbeing. That being said, there is surmounting evidence which suggests that exercise, especially in early-life, can alter the microbial community in our guts which can then promote good brain health and metabolic activity throughout the course of our lives.

While we don’t yet know the exact age range that our gut microbes are most susceptible to early-life changes in exercise, preliminary findings suggest that the earlier the better. After all, unhealthy habits developed while we’re young can be some of the most difficult to break later on, sedentarism included. Moving forward, scientists hope to find how the relationships in this microbial ecosystem impact brain function in a long-lasting way. By doing this, we can eventually hope to encourage gut-microbe plasticity in adults which can then help combat the high rates of anxiety and depression within that community. While further investigation is needed toward this goal, the future looks promising.

two dumb bells next to a replica of a human brain

Do Stronger Muscles Mean a Stronger Mind?

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage “Brains over Brawn”. This saying is meant to imply that physical fitness may have its perks, but it’s more important to be smart than physically strong. This topic is brought up in numerous debates. After all, who should we look up to? The soldier or the scientist? The philosopher or the athlete? Both physical and mental excellence should be equally appreciated. Why dichotomize when you can have both? The ancient Greeks advocated the benefits of being fit in both body in mind, leading to their creation of the polis gymnasia – the center of political thought and culture which later became the foundation for secondary education in the Western world.

In fact, as it turns out, fitter bodies may mean stronger minds. The brain is, after all, a muscle just like any other and thus can benefit from healthy eating and regular exercise just like our bodily muscles. Recent research argues that fitter bodies can lead to more effective and longer lasting brains!

Research Shows that a Stronger Body Means a Stronger Mind

One such study, published in Gerontology by Dr. Claire Steves, uses data collected from twins to demonstrate how stronger bodies can affect the strength of our minds. Dr. Stevens a senior lecturer at King’s College in London who specializes in twin research. Why twins? Because twins normally share the same home environment and many, if not all, of the same genes. These would otherwise be problematic variables to consider for non-twin test subjects. As New York Times author Gretchen Reynolds explains: “if one twin’s body, brain, and thinking abilities begin to differ substantially over the years from the other’s, the cause is less likely to be solely genetic or the early environment, and more likely to be attributable to lifestyle, including exercise habits.”

Muscle power is widely considered a marker of healthy aging, particularly with leg muscles which are some of the largest muscles in the body. Studies show that older people with stronger leg muscles not only tend to get around easier but also tend to have sharper minds than those with weaker leg muscles. This discovery prompted inquiry into the relationship between physical and mental wellbeing, but previously it was unknown whether the effects were due to lifestyle choices, like exercise, or the benefits of good genes.

The Study That Proves It

It was this uncertainty that motivated Dr. Stevens to begin her research. To do so, she and her colleagues pulled data for 162 healthy, middle-aged, female twin pairs both identical and non-identical from the TwinsUK twin registry. The scientists looked for twins who 10 years prior had completed extensive computerized exams assessing their memory and thinking abilities as well as their metabolic health and leg-muscle power; the lattermost assessment measuring the individual’s leg-muscle force and their speed.

Why focus on muscle assessments rather than assessing their exercise habits? Because the former is more objective rather than relying on the individual’s recollections of how much they may or may not have worked out. To determine the correlation between leg strength and mental strength the scientists asked the twins to visit a lab to be reassessed. Twenty of the identical twin pairs also completed brain imaging scans.

After comparing the results of these tests with the results from 10 years earlier, the scientists discovered that of the 324 twins, those who had the sturdiest legs according to the initial assessment showed the least amount of cognitive decline a decade later. These results remained true even after the scientists controlled for fatty diets, high blood pressure, and shaky blood-sugar control. These differences were especially striking when observed in the twin pairs as the twin who demonstrated the greater strength 10 years ago tended to be a much better thinker than their twin whose leg strength was weaker. In fact, on average the muscularly powerful twin performed about 18% better on memory and cognitive tests than their physically weaker sibling. Similar results were displayed with the brain imaging scans.

Concluding the results of the study, Reynolds reports that “Overall, among both the identical and fraternal twins, fitter legs were strongly linked, 10 years later, to fitter brains.”

How Do to Brain and Body Tie Together?

But although these correlations were observed and confirmed in the study, the mechanisms which cause them were still unconfirmed. However, Dr. Matthew J. Edmund theorizes what he believes may be the underlying processes at work. He believes that the body is, in essence, one large information system. He explains: “The human body constantly remakes and regenerates information.  Information rich activities – like walking – generate more learning – and more effective bodies and brains.”

Thus, he states: “Health is about how you live.  How you live determines the information system you constantly remake to let you carry on.” In other words, our mental strength benefits from our overall health and wellbeing because our bodies are a full, functioning system. The information of our bodies is connected to our minds and vice versa, so physical health is not isolated but instead also impacts our mental strength.

In other words: there is no such thing as brawn vs. brain; there is only one body. So remember to take care of it. A healthy body means a healthy mind. The brain is, after all, a muscle.

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3 Big Reasons Mental Health Treatment May Not Be Working

So you have made the decision to seek mental health treatment for a psychiatric disorder.  You have overcome all of the barriers – the cost, the stigma, your own fear – to seek treatment.  One of the most frustrating things that you can be feeling after you have made it through all of these obstacles is the feeling that your mental health treatment is not working.  If this frustration hits, you start to wonder if you have been wasting your time and your money pouring out your soul for no reason. You can start to wonder if you are ever going to feel better.  You are starting to wonder what is going to happen if you are never able to have the life you want.  And then you work yourself into a panic complete with fear and hopelessness – all feelings that are really just going to make matters worse.

Treating mental health conditions is not nearly as simple as going to a doctor for a broken leg where you know what to expect and you know what it going to happen.  There is little that is simple about dealing with the human mind.  But that does not mean that your concerns are not valid ones.  Your treatment may not be helping at the moment.  Here are some reasons why that might be true.

1. It Has Not Been Long Enough Yet

Therapy takes time. Sometimes therapy takes a lot of time – a lot more time than you may be expecting.  It depends on you and what you are being treated for.  Short term therapy is very effective for an adjustment disorder or a single episode of depression.  More complex and perplexing mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder posttraumatic stress disorder generally require a more long term therapy commitment.  The presenting disorder may only scratch the surface of what is really going on.  Oftentimes, there are underlying difficulties that are manifesting as presenting disorders. Until these underlying difficulties are sorted out, the real problem cannot be dealt with.  And these things take time.

2. You are Dodging the Real Issues

Many people start going to therapy and talk around the real issues. Most experienced therapists know that fairly often the issue that initially brought a patient to him or her is not necessarily the real problem.  There are many different reasons why patients will avoid talking about their real problems.  They could feel shame or embarrassment about their difficulties and not want to feel judged by a therapist.  They may not want open up wounds that they think are already sealed.  They go to therapy to talk about surface issues rather than getting into the real problems.  It can take a long time for a therapist to pull the true issues out of a client.

3. You Have Been Misdiagnosed

Mental health conditions do not generally come with lab tests and MRI evidence of specific conditions just yet. That could be something for the future, but for now, diagnosing mental issues is a matter of experience and educated guessing.  Mental health disorders are typically based on self-reporting and observations.  These are not exact sciences.  Treatment plans are typically based on the diagnosis.  The treatment for different conditions could be very different approaches.  If that diagnosis is incorrect, the treatment plan may not be as effective as it could be.

There are a great many more things that can interfere with the effectiveness of your treatment.  The most important thing to remember is to be honest with your therapist.  Tell him or her if you are feeling like you are not progressing as you should.  Tell him or her if you are feeling frustrated.  He or she may be able to help you put your treatment and recovery in perspective.  Do not be afraid to broach the subject because your therapist will be happy to know that you feel comfortable being open about your feelings.  Getting your feelings out in the open can both strengthen your relationship with your therapist and enable your therapist to address some of the difficulties that you are experiencing.

Compassion And Self-Empathy Promotes Healing

There is quite a lot of overlap in empathy and compassion.  Webster’s defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  Webster’s defines compassion as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings of misfortunes of others.”  So empathy is all about understanding and sharing while compassion is all about pity and concern.  Regardless of the kind of situation from which you are recovering – addiction, eating disorder, mental health condition – you are likely to be harder on yourself than you would be on almost anyone else.

For example, when we think about the mental health problems that we have experienced such as an eating disorder or depression – Have you thought about the harm that you could have caused to your body and your mind had you kept up with the disorder?  These things can make you beat yourself up.  Past wrongs that cannot be changed and near slips in the present can be the worst.

When you find that you are being hard on yourself, you may want to take a minute to think about empathy and compassion for yourself.  You may be regularly going out of your way to be there for your loved ones in all of the times when they are hurting, but you will not be the best person that you can be until you cut yourself a little bit of slack and learn that taking care of yourself is one of the best ways that you can help others.

4 Ways to Encourage Self-Empathy and Compassion

1. Breathe

Something so simple can be incredibly difficult to remember to do.  Your body is set up to naturally breathe as much as you need to keep living, but sometime being conscious of your breathing can make a big difference in how you feel.  Take a few minutes a few times a day to stop whatever you are doing and focus on your breath.  Close your eyes and take a few good, deep breaths for no other reason than it is good for you, and you likely do not do it enough.  Deep breathing can slow your heart rate and make you feel calmer overall.

2. Slow Down 

Taking time for deep breathing will naturally make you slow down a bit, but taking the time to think through your actions before rushing headlong into any situation can force you into making more mindful decisions.  Take stock of what is happening in the moment.  It is natural to want to rush through everything and make your decisions quickly, but that is not always going to yield the best results.  Take your time and think as clearly as possible.

3. Don’t Aim for Perfection

Perfection is not an attainable goal.  Anyone who tells you that you can achieve absolute perfection is lying to you.  What you can achieve is what is right for you and the other people in your life.  Much of the modern media ideal of how life is supposed to work perpetuates the idea that your life should be perfect and complete with the whole happy ending thing.  Most of us spend our time struggling and toiling and making the most of the happy moments in between.  Spend some time thinking about what you really want from your life and how you want your future to look.  The journey to reach the things that you want may be difficult, and you will need to readjust as you go, but it will be a lot better than trying to achieve unattainable perfection.

4. Be Kind To Yourself. Always.

Rather than waiting until something stressful has happened to be kind to yourself, do it all the time.  If you take the time to practice small acts of kindness for yourself regularly, you will be better prepared when a stressful situation presents itself.  Go to a yoga class twice a week.  Take a walk after dinner.  Sit down to read a book or the newspaper for 45 minutes each evening.  Watch your favorite television show every week.  Get a pedicure.  Spend a night in the woods.  Anything that is going to make you feel a little more relaxed all the time is going to be able to keep you from feeling like you are going to burst when something difficult comes along.

All of these things are going to be able to help you gain some compassion and empathy for yourself when you might not be feeling your best.  Take the time to do them, and you will start to feel better immediately.

3 Popular Excuses for Avoiding Exercise

With a new year now in full swing, forming new habits like daily exercise to go along with your recovery can help you to stay clean and sober as well as reduce the risk of early relapse.  Getting exercise each day can help to improve your mental health as well as your physical health.  Most people in recovery, and most people in general, are not getting all of the exercise that they really should be getting.  Odds are good that if you are not getting enough exercise, you are using one of the many popular excuses for not getting up and moving around.  In reality, you are likely just making excuses, and there is little that is true about your excuses for exercise avoidance.

Popular Excuse #1 – I’m too busy for exercise

With all of the other things that you are doing with your life – recovery, family, friends, work, meetings – you may feel like taking time out of your day to exercise is asking too much.  However, you can work exercise into your day without it taking up too much of your time.  Even a ten minute brisk exercise to get your heart pumping and your body moving is beneficial to your health and well-being.  If you have time to sit in the evening or in the morning, you have time to exercise.  Take a walk around the block during your lunch.  If you take the bus to work, get off a few blocks away and walk the rest of the way.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park at the far end of the grocery store parking lot.  Walk your dog.  Any and all of these things will get you moving and add very little in the way of the time.

Popular Excuse #2 – I am physically limited

While you may believe that a disability, a physical ailment, or chronic pain can put a damper on any kind of exercise that you might be able to do, there is always going to be something that you can do to move around a bit.  There are going to be activities in which you cannot participate if you are physically limited, but there are going to be activities that can help with some of the issues that you face.  You might think about water activities.  Sometimes water based exercise can be gentle enough that it does not exacerbate your ailment but is still strenuous enough that you get the exercise that your body and your mind really need.  Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercise are appropriate for your conditions.

Popular Excuse #3 – I hate exercise

Life is full of things that adults have to do but do not want to do.  Going to the grocery store can be a pain.  Cleaning the bathroom is not fun.  Doing what your boss tells you to do even when you think that he or she does not know what should really be happening is difficult.  But all of this comes with being an adult.  Sometimes you have to do things that you do not want to do.  In this case, your life may actually depend on getting some exercise.  It might seem truly difficult at first, but exercise does get easier.  Eventually, it will become part of your routine.  There are lots of things that can be considered exercise.  You could do yoga or Pilates or Zumba.  You could go sailing or skateboarding or hiking.  You could do sit ups and jumping jacks, or you could go dancing.  Anything that gets your body moving is going to be good for you.

It may take a long while for you to enjoy exercise.  It may take a while for you to really see the difference that it is making in your life.  But getting some exercise is a very easy way to keep your mind and body healthy.  Keeping your mind and body healthy and active will keep you focused on the reasons that you are in recovery in the first place.  It will keep your mind from slipping into the places where active addiction seems like the only answer.  Exercise will give you the strength to be able to continue fighting for the life that you want to have and have worked toward all through your recovery.

A male and female interlocking hands in what appears to be a strong, happy relationship.

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