#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek is with us once again; It’s a time for people everywhere to come together and talk openly about mental health issues at home, in public, in the workplace… everywhere! The more we talk about it, the less of a stigma will be attached to it.
Everybody knows that there are many mental health benefits of exercise. Naturally, this means there are plenty of mental health benefits of cycling, too. So if you’re looking for a way to help conquer your own mental health struggles, taking up a sport like cycling might be of massive help to you.
Here are just a few mental health benefits of cycling:
Escape and Solitude
Sometimes things in life can get a little too much and all we want to do is “get away” for a while. Walking will take us where we want to go, but if we want to have access to more locations that will help clear our heads, cycling is the perfect escape method.
If you have a quiet place in mind that helps you feel at peace, great! Cycling will take you there. Or, if you want to discover somewhere totally new to relax your thoughts, you’ve a far better chance at covering more ground on two wheels than on two legs!
Or perhaps cycling itself is your escape and solitude? Lots of people find themselves “in the zone” when behind the handlebars, to the point where everything else in life simply fades into the background and nothing else matters except the road ahead. It’s a tranquil feeling and one more people might want to experience, especially if they’re struggling.
Burn Off Steam
The weight of the week and the pressures of life might be getting to you at the moment, right? You may feel as though there’s a constant fire building and burning away inside you, to the point when you’re just about ready to explode. That’s not a healthy feeling!
What is healthy is finding an outlet where you can “let off some steam” and release some of that pent-up energy. Cycling is an excellent way to do this.
Jumping back in the saddle and pushing yourself to find new places, work your muscles and burn some calories is a great form of physical therapy. And, when we say “physical therapy” we don’t mean it in the traditional sense; Rather, we mean it as a physical method of psychological therapy. Make yourself feel better by pushing yourself harder. Give yourself the feeling of self-accomplishment you deserve.
The mental health benefits of cycling aren’t just psychological, though. There’s unquestionably a physiological element to it as well, as we have learned thanks to science.
When we exercise, chemicals called Endorphins are released in our brain. There are countless endorphins with a whole host of different uses within our bodies. But the ones released during exercise are specifically catered to preventing injury and encouraging performance. As a byproduct, these endorphins also contribute to the encouragement of positive mood, helping us feel better without even realizing it in a lot of cases.
So if you’re feeling low and looking for a way to give your mood an overall boost, try going for a ride. Your body will certainly thank you for it, and your mind might too!
Something to Focus On
When our minds lack focus, it can become incredibly easy to be completely taken over by some unwanted, negative thoughts. For those of us that struggle with this on a regular basis, staying focused on something truly can be a lifeline in the darkest of times.
Cycling can offer you that focus; It can give you something to look forward to each day and, thanks to it being quite a physically taxing sport, really does require 110% focus and dedication when you’re in the middle of a ride.
It makes things even better if you have a plan or a schedule in place to ride consistently, perhaps numerous times per week or even per day. Having consistency in your cycling plans gives you something to look forward to and something you know that you’ll be able to focus on.
While this is perhaps not as obvious as our previous points, sleep is absolutely integral in improving one's mental condition. And yes, cycling can and does play a part.
If we fail to exercise in the day, falling asleep as night can be a much harder process than those who do exercise. And a lack of sleep is acutely linked to a number of mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
Whereas if you exercise a good amount in the day, for example through cycling, your body’s natural processes make it much more likely for you to be able to fall asleep in good time and to not spend hours trying to fall asleep unsuccessfully.
In other words, if you want to improve your mindset, try fitting in some solid cycling time and expend enough energy to encourage a healthy amount of sleep.
The world of cycling might be in flux at the moment, but keep an eye on @FreewheelHols for any and all cycling holiday updates, news and articles.