I’m taking my last Mass Communication class this semester called Digital & Online Media. For this class, I’ve have to create and maintain a blog. The topic of my blog is on the mental health benefits of exercise. Each post focuses on a kind of exercise or physical movement and evaluates the benefits of that type of movement. Perspectives come from a diverse group of people from soccer moms to professional athletes. To support my findings, each post also contains scientific research that I summarize along with a link to that study or article.
I’ve had a lot of fun creating content for this blog. There is only 8 more weeks left in the semester but I have a feeling that I’ll continue maintaining this blog after this class. I invite you to follow along!
Being a Texas State University student, I have free access to mental health services such as individual and group counseling. I took advantage of group counseling which was actually not in person but over Telehealth (Zoom) and signed up for a Mindfulness group.
Mindfulness can be used to reconnect your mind with your body when you’re feeling scattered, or just far away. Sometimes we are too connected to our body and need to be present outside of the body, like with nature. It is used while moving like in yoga or while seated or laying down as in mediations.
I want to share the use of mindfulness through our senses, specifically sound, taste, and sight.
We can use Mindfulness to focus in on one or all of our senses, like sound for example. Sit, be still and quiet then just listen to everything you hear. It can be the fan in your room, the cars driving past, or birds chirping nearby. The point is to just listen. You can take it a step further and use your imagination of creating a scene in your mind, image what the fan looks like and the way it’s moving. What might the cars that drive past look like or what kind of bird is chirping nearby? Another way to use sound is to listen to music. I tried it with listening to someone play the piano and every time I listened, I noticed something new. It was actually really cool.
Taste. This is a great one to practice if you tend to eat really fast and want to manage it better. To practice, start with something that can dissolve like an M & M. Place it in your mouth and let is sit. Feel it slowly melt away and notice all the textures in each stage. Notice the flavor in each stage. Notice the pleasure it brings and how your body and brain reacts to it. Then try it with your next meal.
Sight. This is an interesting one. The idea is to take notice of your surroundings. The room you are sitting in may be your bedroom. Stand up, slowly walk around the room while saying out loud the item you are looking at. It feels silly to walk around and say “bed”, “mirror”, “window” but it’s another great grounding tool to use when you’re feeling far away from yourself. Next time you are feeling far, one glance at one of these items may help re-ground you.
When practicing being present it’s best to relax before you begin. Get comfortable and begin taking long slow inhales and long slow exhales. Focus on this breath; listen to it, feel the air expand in your body, notice your chest and belly rise with each inhale and fall with each exhale. Your mind will wonder away from your breath and that’s okay, just bring it back to your breath. Do this for 5min. Then begin your practice.
The picture I posted to go along with this blog post resonates with me because I take my dog, Hedley, for a walk to “our” creek twice a day. This creek is just a few houses away and runs along a few acers of grass, huge trees, critters, and complete isolation from people, traffic, and just noise. It’s always breezy there so it’s always so refreshing to feel the breeze against my skin. While there, Hedley gets to roam free sniffing out this tree, peeing on that limb, and chasing after squirrels. I get to clear my head and remove it of the clutter similar to what can be seen in the picture above. I feel like if I don’t, then my time with Hedley won’t be as special for her and for me. You can’t enjoy the present with clutter.
Got up early to hit the streets for a 3 mile run with stops for a little circuit. I LOVE this kind of training. This is my favorite form of cardiovascular training that incorporates bodyweight exercises to build functional strength. For me, at about 1 mile in, I begin to feel a sense of mental clarity which allows me to work through any life challenges, think clearly about making important decisions and get creative ideas to current projects.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to train like this and I was definitely feeling it in my knees and ankles towards the end. I always stretch and foam roll before hitting the pavement then stretch again right after AND place ice packs on the knees if I’m feeling achiness coming on. By the next day, I’m feeling back to normal! Super important to prep before and take care after….especially when you hit your 40’s!
A Dissonance-Based Body Acceptance and Eating Disorder Prevention Program
I was trained by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to deliver the Body Project Program. Being a certified facilitator allows me to go out into our community and help PUT AN END to eating disorder symptoms, minimize body dissatisfaction and challenge the appearance ideal.
This program was created by Dr. Eric Stice (UT Austin) and Dr. Carolyn Becker (Trinity University San Antonio) in 2012. Collectively, they have over 30 years of experience in testing and running the Body Project in a multitude of settings and with a variety of group facilitators. To date, the Body Project has been used by numerous high schools and over 140 college campuses; it has been delivered to over 3.5 million girls and young women in 25 countries.
Research supports the use of the Body Project not only with those who have elevated body dissatisfaction, but also in more diverse groups of adolescent girls and young women that include those with lower levels of body dissatisfaction. Here is a link to a list of published studies: Body Project Publications
This particular program was designed for adolescent girls and young women, but alternative programs are currently in the works for other populations! Click here to learn about the development of programs such as More Than Muscles and PRIDE.
The Body Project program is structured to run for 4 – 1hr sessions (1 session per week for 4 weeks). We will meet as a group of 8 to 12 participants. During our sessions, I will guide the group through exercises that define and dismantle the appearance-ideal, discuss the reality of achieving this look, and challenge negative views we hold about ourselves. There will be home exercises that everyone must complete before attending the next session. These exercises will help raise new awareness about yourself, build on skills and concepts that are practiced in the groups, and represent opportunities to practice challenging peers, family members, and yourself in questioning the appearance-ideal. The sessions are cumulative, with each session building on what was learned and practiced in the previous session. Thus, attending all of the sessions and participating in the in-session and between-session exercises is very important.
What you get:
The tools to FIND YOUR VOICE and become an advocate for body acceptance.
A chance to CHALLENGE THE SYSTEM and CONFRONT STIGMA in a hands on, fun environment where we practice pushing back against unwanted body comments.
Permission to prioritize SELF-CARE. You will begin improving your body image, the first step to helping yourself and others and to having a positive impact in the body acceptance movement.
If you or someone you know in the 15 – 23 year old age range is interested in joining the next Body Project group, please submit your information in my “Contact Me” page and I will promptly respond!
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this page to help spread the word about this intervention program to stopping the development of disordered eating!
Ahhh! The spring semester is officially over 🙌🏼 and I’m so ready to get back to working out again now that I’ve got some extra time on my hands!
I actually started doing yoga about a week ago to work on my flexibility and now have extra time for strength training 💪🏼 YESSSS!
I trained legs after yoga this morning and let me tell ya, I was feeling alllll the good vibes post workout and just wanted to share some thoughts that I was having about that first workout after taking some (or a lot) of time away from the gym.
I might’ve rambled a little at first, haha, but ultimately what I wanted to share is a reminder of that amazing feeling you get after a really good workout. You know what I’m talking about…that feeling of happiness, clarity, and accomplishment! When you’re ready to get back at it, remember that feeling and chase after it!
Now go get you some!!!
**Please comment! I’d love to hear from you guys!**