All of us have days where we just don’t want to get out of bed, but it doesn’t have to impact your health! If you struggle with mental illness, you may find that days like this are more common than you like. There are still many ways you can keep your body active even when your health, mental or physical, makes it difficult to exercise. Here are some tips for staying active when it’s tough to get up and move.
Stretches in Bed
When you’ve been inactive for a long period of time, your body can get sore and stiff, just from staying still! Stretches are a great, low-impact way to ease your body back into movement on hard mental health days. You can gently stretch different parts of your body, even while you’re still in bed. For example, you can stretch your legs, hips, and lower back by lifting one leg towards the ceiling and grabbing your thigh with your hands, then pulling slightly towards your chest, and alternating with the other leg. For your upper body, cross one arm in front of your chest and pull it with your opposite hand for a deep stretch in your shoulder. Try stretching different parts of your body with lower back twists, touching your toes, or arching your back. Even just stretching your hands out by flexing your fingers can be a great way to start. Stretching every day doesn’t just help your mental health, it helps your whole body stay healthy and fit!
Once you’ve finished stretching in bed, there are even some exercises you can do. These won’t burn a lot of calories, but when you’re feeling down, any movement is better than none at all. Instead of worrying about burning calories, focus on how much better you feel after a short session of gentle activity. Pilates leg workouts and some core exercises like crunches are a great way to keep up your activity even while in bed, since you do them while laying on a flat surface. Take note: doctors don’t recommend prolonged workouts on soft surfaces, so if you’re still active after a few minutes, move to a mat on the floor while you’re trying them out. The change of scenery may also be a great way to transition to doing other things throughout the house.
Adopt A Furry Companion
There are many mental health benefits to taking on a furry companion like a cat or a dog. Even when self-care might not be a priority, many people find caring for their pet a motivating way to get out of bed and start the day. Before going headfirst into taking in a new “furbaby,”, make sure to research what kind of care they will need. Different breeds of dogs and cats might be better able to match the energy level you need for your lifestyle. An older pet might even be a good option, as well, since they tend to be calmer and easier to handle than a puppy or kitten.
Even though mental health conditions can sometimes rob us of our motivation to work out, experts in psychological treatment often recommend physical activity as part of a plan for managing depression and anxiety. While it may not be a cure, just 20 minutes of exercise a day can make an incredible difference in moods and stress levels.
Get Free Help With Your Mental Illness Through EFAP
If you’re struggling with keeping active and find your moods consistently low, consider seeing a doctor that can help. Therapists are trained to help and understand what you’re going through. Nutrien even has free and confidential mental health services for employees and their family members through EFAP. Contact information for these services can be found online here.