Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘mood swing

There’s more to the mood-boosting properties of exercise than endorphins.

Exercise has been touted to be a cure for nearly everything in life, from depression, to memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and more.

At the same time, similar to the topic of sleep, I found myself having very little specific and scientific knowledge about what exercise really does to our bodies and our brains.

 posted:

“Yes, yes, I know all about it, that’s the thing with the endorphins, that makes you feel good and why we should exercise and stuff, right?” is what I can hear myself say to someone bringing this up.

I would pick up things here and there, yet really digging into the connection of exercise and how it effects us has never been something I’ve done.

Inspired by a recent post from Joel on what makes us happy I’ve set out to uncover the connection between our feeling of happiness and regularly exercising.

What triggers happiness in our brain when we exercise?

Most of us are aware of what happens to the body when we exercise. We build more muscle or more stamina. We feel how daily activities like climbing stairs becomes easier if we exercise regularly.

When it comes to our brain and mood though, the connection isn’t so clear.

The line around our “endorphins are released” is more something I throw around to sound smart, without really knowing what it means. Here is what actually happens:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it.

To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch.

That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy. (Still not clear)

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, is released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose is what  researcher McGovern writes:

These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.

Overall, there is a lot going on inside our brain and it is in fact oftentimes a lot more active than when we are just sitting down or actually concentrating mentally:

So, BDNF and endorphins are the reasons exercise makes us feel so good.

The somewhat scary part is that they have a very similar and addictive behavior like morphine, heroine or nicotine. The only difference? Well, it’s actually good for us.

The key to maximize happiness through exercise: don’t do more, but focus on when

Now here is where it all gets interesting. We know the basic foundations of why exercising makes us happy and what happens inside our brain cells.

The most important part to uncover is how we can trigger this in an optimal and longer lasting way.

A recent study from Penn State university shed some light on the matter and the results are more than surprising. They found that to be more productive and happier on a given work day, it doesn’t matter so much, if you work-out regularly, if you haven’t worked out on that particular day:

Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning.”

New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Reynolds has written a whole book about the subject matter titled “The first 20 minutes”.

To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, the key is not to become a professional athlete. On the contrary, a much smaller amount is needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity in every day life peaks:

“The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.”

You can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out. All you have to do is get some focused 20 minutes in to get the full happiness boost every day:

“On exercise days, people’s mood significantly improved after exercising. Mood stayed about the same on days they didn’t, with the exception of people’s sense of calm which deteriorated.” (University of Bristol)

How to get into a consistent exercise habit: The dance with the endorphins

That’s all nice to hear you might say, starting to exercise regularly or even daily is still easier written than done. At end of the day, there is quite a lot of focus required to help you get into the habit of exercising daily.

The most important part to note first, is that exercise is a “keystone” habit according to Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

This means that daily exercise can pave the way not only for happiness, but also growth in all other areas of your life.

In a recent post from Joel, he wrote about the power of daily exercise for his everyday life. Coincidentally, he follows the above rules very accurately and exercises daily before doing anything else. He writes:

By 9:30am, I’ve done an hour of coding on the most important task I have right now on Buffer, I’ve been to the gym and had a great session, and I’ve done 30 minutes of emails. It’s only 9:30am and I’ve already succeeded, and I feel fantastic.

I’ve spoken lots to Joel about his habit of exercising and here are some of the most important things to do, in order to set yourself up for success and make your daily exercise fun:

Put your gym clothes right over your alarm clock or phone when you go to bed:
This technique sounds rather simple, but has been one of the most powerful ones. If you put everything the way you want it for the gym before you go to sleep and put your alarm under your gym clothes, you will have a much easier time to convince yourself to put your gym clothes on. (How about wrapping the gym clothes on you in bed?)

Track your exercises and log them at the same time after every exercise:

When you try to exercise regularly, the key is to make it a habit. One way to achieve this is to create a so called “reward”, that will remind you of the good feelings you get from exercising.

In our big list of top web apps, we have a full section on fitness apps that might be handy. Try out Fitocracy or RunKeeper to log your work-outs. Try to have a very clear logging process in place. Log your work-out just before you go into the shower or exactly when you walk out of the gym.

Think about starting small and then start even smaller: Here is a little secret.

When I first started exercising, I did it with five minutes per day, three times a week. Can you imagine that? Five minutes of timed exercise, three times a week? That’s nothing, you might be thinking. And you are right, because the task is so easy and anyone can succeed with it, you can really start to make a habit out of it. Try no more than five or 10 minutes if you are getting started.

Quick last fact: You get the highest level of happiness with exercise if you are just starting out

As a quick last fact, exercise, the increase of the BDNF proteins in your brain acts as a mood enhancer. The effects are similar to drug addiction one study found. So when you start exercising, the feeling of euphoria is the highest:

“The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time.” (McGovern)

So this means that if you have never exercised before or not for a long time, your happiness gains will be the highest if you start now.

Exercise and how it affects our level of happiness is an absolutely exciting topic for me. Have you played around with this too and seen any results? I would love to hear your thoughts on how exercise and happiness work together.

Photo credit: katapulsemusic

Note: from what I read is that “forget the euphoric feeling and this addiction that requires more time for exercise will vanish. Just knowing that exercising is beneficial for your daily work and attitude is good enough”

Get the habit of just 20 minutes before you start the day, and if you feel the itch for more exercise during the day, then go for it. Anything more than 30 minutes that exhaust you physically is not worth the effort if daily “production” is the criteria

This post originally appeared on Buffer, and is reprinted with permission.

[Image: Flickr user D. Sinclair Terrasidius]

“Feeling good: The new Mood therapy”? by David Burns, M.D

The book is mainly targeting these people who experience vast mood swing, like frequent depression periods or frequent bout of anger… This is a version of a section in the book concerning “why we feel that way (angry) relative to other people…”, meaning that it is good to read the original section and compare what differ in style and nuances and counterpoint…

We are under this supposed truth that all our current emotions are consequent to our relationship with other people. We are adamant that it is people around us who are rendering us the way we feel, all these overwhelming negative emotions of anger, displeasure, depressive mood…

People are actually the catalyst who generate sets of emotions in us at every moment, but they are far from being the cause of the particular emotions we feel toward them or their actions at the time.

Our emotions are an interpreted version, a schema of the priming image and predisposition we are ready to heap on a certain individual, regardless of the facts or his objective nature…

What kinds of distortions that our negative emotions catalogue?

1. Labeling is the greatest offenders among the distorted emotions. We say “you are a jerk, a bum, a piece of shit…” and you are cataloguing in your mind all the negative attributes attached to these labels, and the person is defined as such…

Labeling is unfair to the person and to yourself first of all: Everyone of us a complex mix of positive, negative and neutral attributes, varying in degrees as we grow up and mature.

Labeling distorts the thinking process and lead us into this laziness of the mind that relies instead on ready-made versions that we save in our memory, particularly people we feel indignant with…

2. Mind reading distortions. We have this fantastic ability to judge people within fractions of a second from facial expressions and gestures and body language…and we are adamant that we liked or accepted the person from these quick first impressions. We say: “he has a mean streak, stupid-looking, bad-kid demeanor…”

What if in the first encounter the individual was upset or in a foul mood before he met you, and his facial expressions were not meant to be displayed to you?  We might be able to settle on an impression quickly, but how easily can we let go of a bad mood that distorts our facial expressions?

In many cases, first encounter mind-reading feelings are off track, and represent the mood you are actually crumbling under at the moment, kind of projecting your mood situation on people you are meeting…

3. Magnification of emotions.  We tend to exaggerate the negative attributes and dwell on them for longer than is necessary, and forget to attach enough emphasis on the positive characteristics and how they may counter balance the other kinds of emotions and attributes…

4. Inappropriate “Should” and “Shouldn’t” statements. As if you’re the ideal person to judge what another individual should be, do, feel or like…

The sense of loss, disappointment, or inconvenience may lead to this feeling that the action was unjust or unfair, as if the world is bound to behave and run the way our current state of mind wants it to function…

You think that you are entitled to instant gratification at all times, as if you are an absolute monarch or a despot…

5. The perception of unfairness and injustice is the ultimate cause of our anger and negative emotions: We want the world to behave in a one-way traffic, the way we want events to occur and people to behave, in timely manner, as logically as we assimilate the meaning of logic to mean to us…

As long as we believe there should be an “absolute” moral system that governs our lives, we are in great trouble with our negative emotions most of the time.

Fairness and justice are relative concepts, depending on the idiosyncratic of cultural legacy and traditional heritage. Social rules and moral strictures that are supposedly “accepted” in a particular community, are more likely a consensus process that was dominated by the majority and forced upon the varied minorities…

Moral statements about fairness are stipulations, not grounded on objective facts most of the time.

No amount of general acceptance can make a moral system “Absolute” or ultimately valid for everyone and under all circumstances. For example, no one ever asked the thousand of aborigines tribes and smaller States what is their opinions or input on a fair absolute system of moral priorities.

For example, if you are working as accountant under the US laws and rules, most accountants in other parts of the world would consider your job as flat-out a big lie, siding with the privileged class at the expense of the little people…It is not a matter of aligning numbers, and doing harmful simple math exercises…but being engaged in a dirty job, consciously and willfully…

6. Much everyday anger results from confusing our personal wants and desires with general moral codes. Acting within a set of standards and a frame of reference that are different from yours…

Actually, it is how you primed the other person attributes that is your guiding rod in your judgment, and not the actual acts and behavior of the other person…

The pragmatic question would seem: “Where will I draw the line as I am confronted with negative emotions…?”

Does this statement suggest that we have to objectively undertake a cost/benefit analysis for the outcome before every outburst of emotions? Not feasible, not natural, not possible…

At least, if we occasionally manage to take a deep breath before the coming outburst, we invariably bring forth our power of reflection to intervene, now and then, and we become better persons.

We could apply two guidelines as we learn to reflect before an outburst of emotion:

1. Is my anger directed because I think the other person acted knowingly, willfully, and intentionally in a hurtful manner? (feeling of contempt is one of these kinds of emotions)

2. Does my anger helps achieve a desired objective? Like sincerely wanting to get rid of the presence of a person in my life because he is a sure obstacle to my well-being, sanity… for one reason or another?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2021
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