Studies have shown that those suffering from anxiety, ADHD, and depression can benefit from establishing an exercise routine. The endorphins that are released during physical activity have been shown to increase pleasant feelings and supersede the negative ones. Being able to establish a toolkit of coping skills will aid you in reducing some of the effects of many mental health issues. Exercise is a great coping skill to keep in your toolbox to calm yourself down and manage negative feelings that arise. When you exercise you are becoming more mindful of your body, and your breath. Mindfulness interrupts the worry and channels the energy elsewhere. Walking, stretching, hiking, yoga, and lifting are all ways you can exercise. The more exercise you get the better you feel about your body, which increases self-esteem, release muscle tension, bring routine and structure to your life, increase your energy, and have better sleep. All these things work in connection in the same way as EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, during trauma processing.
The benefits of exercise are relatively well known. However, some of the mental and emotional benefits of EMDR are not as well known. EMDR Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a therapeutic technique in which the processing of emotions is facilitated through the stimulation of the left and right brain in an alternating fashion. The process of bilateral stimulation is the main component of EMDR trauma processing. The process of stimulating the brain helps you to think about things more rationally, change your perspective on the event, and create a healthier belief about yourself related to the event. When you activate both sides of the brain the logical side and emotional side are able to communicate in a way that allows you to come to a more rational conclusion.
If you take an inventory of your feelings before and after exercise you can see a notable difference. Have you ever gone for a run and felt that you had processed through an issue which resulted in less distressed? Sometimes this can be called “runners high” when the endorphins and euphoria kick in and you feel the positive psychological effects of the activity. “Runners high” is not just associated with running but the rhythmic cross movements that occur after it has been maintained for an extended period of time. Cross movements are considered movements that engage both the legs and arms, for example, swimming, Zumba, lifting weights, jogging, walking, and rock climbing. When you dance, walk, or run, you are using your body in a way that uses both sides of your body and brain during the movement. In stimulating both sides you are able to simulate some of the EMDR processing due to stimulating both sides of your brain. Thankfully, there are many opportunities for you to engage in activities that stimulate both sides of your brain.