Today, stress and anxiety have become an integral part of many women’s daily lives. Hustle, responsibility, and constant worries can leave an imprint on our mental health. But how do we deal with it? UCLA research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the number of days with poor mental health by more than 40%. There’s no doubt that sports have a positive effect on the brain and, as a result, reduce depression and anxiety. Some of them work even better than our favorite fun activities, like playing Book of Oz or watching TikTok, which may seem surprising if you dislike workouts.
What exactly are the links between sport and mental health, which sports can help reduce anxiety and stress, and how can sport boost our self-esteem and confidence? Let’s explore all of these aspects and highlight the varied benefits of sport for women’s mental health.
What Is the Connection Between Sport and Mental Health?
It’s pretty obvious that sport and mental health are closely linked. It’s not for nothing that even busy women and moms care about doing sports at least a few times a week. What exactly makes them carve out time for sports, when it’s so little? Here are just a few aspects of the relationship between sports and mental health:
- Reducing stress and anxiety levels. Exercise isn’t a bad distraction from constant stressors. In the battle of sports and stress, sports wins because it, among other things, increases the level of the happiness hormone serotonin.
- Giving a sense of relaxation and mental balance. Some sports also affect mental health through concentration exercises or, as in the case of yoga, even include meditation and spiritual growth.
- Getting rid of negative emotions. Intense exercise gets rid of stress and negativity. Feel like you’re about to snap at your loved ones? Put on your boxing gloves and hit the punching bag! Or take a tennis racket and shout while hitting a serve.
Benefits of Sports for Women’s Mental Health
It’s important to take care of your mental state, and sport is one of the main helpers for us. Besides direct effects, for example on the hormonal system, sports and mental health are connected indirectly. Physical activity can also change your attitude to life in other areas. The World Happiness Foundation has found this effect of sport on women’s mental health:
- Awaken the leader in you. When you exercise, especially as part of a team, you learn to be stronger, more confident and find common ground with others. This can help you not only in sports but also in life. Sports teaches you how to cope and stay calm even when things don’t go your way.
- Get a taste of life. Studies have shown that women who play team sports feel happier. They get more joy and fulfillment out of life than those who prefer to train alone. So, if you need a reason to be happy, it might be worth joining some sports team or group exercise.
- Love yourself. Sports help us feel better about our bodies and appreciate what they are capable of. By exercising, you increase your confidence and self-esteem. This feeling carries over into other aspects of your life. Sport can help you get rid of anxiety and see yourself in a new way.
Sports and Stress: Useful Exercises for Calming Down
Sports are a powerful tool in the fight against stress, and one type of physical activity that can help us do just that is yoga. Yoga not only strengthens the body but also helps to calm the mind, making it a perfect choice for those looking for ways to relieve stress. The process of practicing yoga aims to bring harmony between the body and mental health through sport. When you perform asanas, you learn to focus on your breathing and the present moment, which helps to distract you from everyday life and reduce stress.
Yoga can also be a great way to improve your well-being and self-esteem through sport. Doing yoga regularly can help improve your posture, strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. This is important because when you feel good physically through sports, it has a positive effect on your mental health as well. Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, yoga as a sport in your daily routine can have a positive impact on your mental health and helps you manage stress if done right.