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How exercise can boost your mood

How exercise can boost your mood

Sometimes self care is doing things you know are good for you…

…and then remembering that you really enjoy them when you get going.

Well okay, I might not enjoy it if it’s going to the dentist (also self care and very important but not so much fun!)

But I do love my exercise class. They are a lovely bunch of people and we have a great laugh together. The exercise is fun and the endorphins always lift my mood.

So why is it so hard to remember all that when it’s time to get ready to go?

It’s hard to finish work for the day when you run your own business and there’s always more to do. And then there are all the demands of family life – preparing meals, clearing up, children’s activities, homework, revision. There’s a neverending supply of things to do there too.

But I know that taking care of my own needs means I have more to offer to others.

It’s important to prioritise looking after yourself, and exercise is a great way to care for your body and your mind.




I’m sure we all know that there are lots of benefits of doing regular exercise. How many can you think of? Probably loads.

Exercise can be social (depending on the activity)…

…or it can be a peaceful way to spend time on your own.

It’s good for your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

It can reduce stress and anxiety.

It may improve your mood and alleviate symptoms of depression.

Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep if you suffer from insomnia.

If you exercise outdoors, you get all the benefits of being in natural surroundings which can be soothing and calming.

Exercise produces endorphins which make you feel good.

If you find the right exercise for you, it can bring you fun, laughter and joy.




You might like to join an exercise class or take up a team sport as a way of making new friends and enjoying social connection with others. You might prefer a walk or a run on your own or just with one other person. Going to the gym can also be solitary or social, whichever you prefer.

Do you like the idea of exercising outdoors in nature? Or would you prefer an indoor class or activity? Or perhaps you’d rather start by exercising in the comfort of your own home with an online class or video to help you.

Perhaps a mixture of all of the above might suit you. The important thing is to try and find out what works best for you.

And if you’re not in the habit of exercising already, start small.

A short walk each day is probably the simplest way to begin. Or if you’d rather stay indoors, how about trying a yoga video on YouTube? There are lots that are 20 minutes or less.




Maybe you’re thinking, “This is all very well, but I know I won’t stick to it.”

It can be tricky to create a new habit. It might help to think about what is stopping you.

It could be lots of different things. Fear of failing or of looking silly. Shame about your body or your ability. Negative messages from the past or bad experiences of sport at school. Maybe it’s tiredness that gets in the way for you, or health issues, financial worries, or the difficulty of finding child care.

Which of these resonates for you?

Whatever it is, maybe understanding what’s stopping you can help you find the best way to get past that barrier and find what works for you.




Just take the first small step.

What feels easiest?

Maybe going for a walk? It’s free and you can do it on your own.

Or does it feel easier to have an exercise buddy or a class for structure?

The most important thing is to find out what suits you best…

…but you’ll only find that out by trying something!

What is one small step that you could take today?




Exercise is great but there are a few pitfalls to avoid.

Are you prone to feeling guilty if you don’t stick to your plans? Then it’s especially important for you to make sure your exercise goals are not too ambitious. Putting pressure on yourself to do too much could be counterproductive and leave you feeling worse. Keep it simple and achievable.

Do you struggle with shame about your body or your sporting ability? Try to start with something that doesn’t feel too exposing at first and if that goes well, you can build up to other activities. If it feels easier, exercise at home, or perhaps you can find a supportive friend to exercise with you – someone who is good at building up your confidence.




It’s important to take care of yourself. Go gently. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Celebrate your small achievements.

That’s especially important if you are someone who has a complicated relationship with the idea of exercising.

You may have been told to exercise as a way to beat depression, which is all very well but hard to manage when you are feeling low, and failing to follow that advice can make you feel bad about yourself.

Or you may have been told to exercise to lose weight for health reasons, which may be good advice in practical terms but again can be hard to stick to and might leave you feeling ashamed and afraid of asking for help again.

If that’s been your experience, I hope this post doesn’t feel like just another person telling you what to do when they don’t know what you really feel like.

It can be hard to get started and hard to stick to. It’s not a solution for everything and it might be only part of what you need.

You might need to talk to your GP to be sure of the right type of exercise if you have a health condition.

And if you are feeling very low or very anxious, you might need a bit of help and support before you feel ready to take on new challenges.

If you would find it helpful to talk through any of these concerns in therapy, and to find a way to get your mojo back and enjoy life more, contact me on or call me on 07305 424417 and you can book a session to try counselling and see how it might help you.

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