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7 Ways to Boost Mental Health With a Workout

It’s the understatement of the year to say that emotions are running high right now. For all of us. In a whole lot of ways.

Workouts have always helped us with our mental health — but that seems to be the case now more than ever.

And, as we’ve been getting our home workouts and socially distanced runs in, we’ve been using a few different ways to make them even better for our mental and emotional state.

We’re not talking about anything that’s too hard to do; just little tweaks here and there that you can try. These little tricks have been helping us, and we figured they might help you, too — no matter what emotions you’re going through.

7 Ways to Make Workouts Even Better for Your Mental Health

1. Set an intention. Before every workout, take a few deep breaths and then set an intention as to what it is you want to accomplish with your workout. Is there a specific emotion you’re feeling that you’d like to release? Are you wanting to take a break from something (or everything)? Are you looking to boost your mood — or do you want to feel a certain way, like strong or powerful or simply in flow? Figure exactly out what you want your workout to do for you before you start moving.

2. Envision stress leaving your body. As you go through your workout, imagine releasing stress as you move. This is particularly good to do on a run or a walk — envision stress, anxiety, and any other emotion you’d like to release dissolving with every step you take.

3. Meditate after your workout. We’ve written about this before, but if you’re having trouble sitting down to meditate or making meditation a habit, consider making it part of your regular cool down. Usually your “monkey mind” is quieter after exercising, and it’s a great way to cap your workout on a mindful note.

4. Repeat a mantra. We’ve always been a fan of using empowering mantras to improve our workouts, but right now we’re liking phrases like “Let it go,” “It’s safe for me to relax,” and even simple words like “love” to help process big emotions and stress.

5. Pay attention to your inhale and exhale. Really focus on inhaling what you want more of in your life (joy, health, love, for example), and then releasing what you don’t want on your exhale (such as stress, fear, anxiety). If you can, visualize what you want actually coming in to your body; and what you don’t want leaving your body.

6. Embrace nature. If you’re able to exercise safely outside and away from others, then turn your next walk or run into its own meditation by focusing on everything around you. Feel the sun and wind on your face; notice how the light hits the trees and plants near you; listen to all of the sounds around you. Try to keep yourself as in the moment as you can and see what natural beauty you can find.

7. Choose your music mindfully. Are there any songs that speak to what you’re feeling? Or, is there a specific beat that seems to match the intensity of your emotions? Put on music that speaks to how you’re feeling — no matter if it’s “workout” music or not.

How are workouts helping your mental health right now? Any other tricks you’ve got for making them even more mood-boosting? Here are a few more mindful running ideas we love. –Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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8 Comments
  1. Arhaath S says:

    Very informative article. I love it where you advise us to envision stress leaving the body. That helps definitely!!

  2. I like the tip to meditate after your workout. I’ve been trying to incorporate more meditation into my week and right after a workout seems like an ideal time to do it. Plus, then you don’t have to try and fit it in another time during the day. Who says Savasana is only for the end of a Yoga class? Process all that feel-good workout energy. A short meditation sounds like a great way to close out a sweat session.

  3. Very helpful post. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. Floranet says:

    Worth Appreciating. Great work.

  5. I adore this advice. That is why we advocate that mental health and physical health ALWAYS go hand in hand. If one isn’t up to speed, then the other likely isn’t either. I have actually been turning off my music during my workouts and runs in particular, and just enjoying my puppies and nature. I notice that being more mindful and in the present is SO valuable for mental and physical health. 🙂 Thank you for these!

    1. Jenn says:

      YES! 🙂 Love that.

      –Jenn

  6. Great article with some great tips. Thank you for sharing this with us all. I highly recommend ALL of it… Best of luck with your blog! It really helped me to boost mental health.

  7. Great article! Exercise of any kind can boost endorphins in the body, much needed in dealing with the pandemic induced stress and anxiety. It’s also important to build immunity. While there is no proof that workouts can keep us from the virus, it can definitely prevent common colds and other infections, so that the trips to the ER are as less as possible.