The following article has been provided by Dr. Joti Samra, a local clinical psychologist and this is adapted from an article Dr. Samra wrote in the Vancouver Sun on May 30, 2013.
Get eight hours of sleep.
Eat your fruits and vegetables.
Drink lots of water.
These key messages have been ingrained into most of our heads since childhood, through a combination of lectures from our parents, plastering of glossy food-group charts in our elementary schools, and public campaigns such Particip-action. The media and our family doctors alike drill these messages into our heads again and again – ‘this is what you need to do to live a happy, healthy, balanced, long life. Most of us know we should adopt these as basic rules in our lives’. However, for most of us even in the best of times, it’s hard to stick to all of these behaviours consistently, and for extended periods of time. In fact, data tell us that only about 5% of North American adults do so. In our technologically driven, not-enough-hours-in-the-day society, prioritization of time and effort is a must. So, if you have to choose, what do you move to the top of the list? The answer is a no-brainer: exercise.
A burgeoning body of literature underscores the beneficial impact that exercise has on our mood: releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain that operate as the body’s ‘natural antidepressants’; elevating body temperature (which can have calming effects on the mind and body); and reducing the release of harmful immune chemicals that can worsen depression.
In addition to these mood-enhancing benefits, exercise has a number of secondary impacts that also positively enhance mood: providing an outlet for socialization and interaction (we are social creatures and we not only survive but thrive when we have good, solid social supports around us); boosting our self-esteem and self-confidence; providing distraction from our day-to-day troubles and worries; and, enhancing our physical health. We know that our physical health is intimately tied to our emotional health, and that improvements in one area lead to improvements in the other.
For a detailed breakdown of all the above recommendations, and for many more interesting articles, visit www.drjotisamra.com or follow her on Twitter (@drjotisamra).
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra