I think we can all agree that one of the most troubling aspects of this pandemic is the psychological trauma associated with it.
People are afraid and unsure of how to keep safe—and there are conflicting messages virtually everywhere. All of this has created challenges with day-to-day mental functioning—whether it’s decision-making, planning, or focusing on tasks. (I call this phenomenon “COVID brain”, and it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand.)
But perhaps the most obvious fallout from the coronavirus crisis is the epidemic of anxiety and depression that has accompanied it. As I’ve reported here before, anti-anxiety and antidepressant prescriptions have skyrocketed since late last winter.
The numbers are truly staggering, with research suggesting that mental health screenings have nearly quadrupled in the wake of the pandemic. Today, more Americans than ever are showing clear clinical signs of depression and anxiety.
But the news isn’t all bad. Because recent research suggests that there’s a simple solution to this very serious problem: exercise.
Work out your worries—literally
Chinese researchers studied 66 college students at the peak of COVID-19 in order to gather data on physical activity levels, sleep quality, negative emotions, and aggression. And guess what?
People who engaged in 45 minutes of vigorous exercise daily were far less likely to struggle with negative emotions. And I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.
This finding particularly hits home for me, too. I am accustomed to finishing my workday with an hour-long workout. This has always been a major stress-reliver for me, completely melting away the troubles of my day.
Obviously, it’s been more challenging lately to exercise the way I used to. But luckily, with some adjustments, I’m beginning to make progress on a new routine. And I urge you to do the same.
You control the pace
It’s worth noting that the researchers found the same benefits with 108 minutes of light physical activity daily, or 80 minutes of moderate activity—which is great news all around.
Sure, that may sound like a large dose of exercise daily. But when your light physical activity can include walking, doing housework, or gardening—really, anything but sitting—108 minutes of physical activity doesn’t seem so hard to achieve. (There are plenty of simple, effective routines you can adopt from the comfort of your own home to keep yourself moving, even during social isolation.)
I also want to point out that none of the students in this study had been diagnosed with COVID-19. So it’s reasonable to conclude that their increased anxiety was as much a byproduct of social distancing and other upheavals as it was from fear of the virus itself.
That’s important, because as vital as exercise is to emotional health, our social relationships may be even more crucial—and they are one of many things this pandemic has stolen from us.
This isn’t lost on the experts—one psychologist even suggested that we change the term from social distancing to “physical distancing and social solidarity.” I like that thought—but it certainly doesn’t change the challenges that come with increased isolation.
That said, if daily exercise can take some of the sting out of pandemic-era living, there’s not a person in this world who can’t benefit. Just be sure to make time to nurture your relationships every day, too—as well as your own mental health.
Of course, you may recall another way to ease pandemic panic—cannabidiol (CBD). And yes, I continue to recommend it to anyone who struggles with chronic anxiety.
But it just so happens that there’s another reason to include CBD in your pandemic supplement arsenal. And I’ll tell you all about that new research tomorrow. So, as always, stay tuned…
P.S. For additional insight into ways to offset the effects of “pandemic panic,” check out the June 2020 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“A safer way to boost your mood and protect your mental health”). Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content. So if you haven’t already, become one today. Click here now!
“Want to Beat Anxiety and Feel Better Now? Follow the ’45-Minute Rule’” Inc.com, 07/17/2020. (inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/to-beat-anxiety-feel-better-right-now-follow-45-minute-rule.html)