Physical Exercise and Mental Health

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By Emily Norris

This article is exclusive to the online Edition 3 of VARSITY Newspaper.

 

When I was in matric, the stress and anxiety of my final year and the pressure to do well “because without a bachelor’s pass you won’t get into university” really took a toll on me. I started doubting myself and my ability. I believed that even if I worked hard, I would probably fail.

Image courtesy of Emily Norris

I decided that I needed to get out and be active. I always enjoyed sport throughout high school, but stopped participating in matric because I thought that I didn’t have enough time for it. Little did I know that it was exactly what I needed to get through my last year of school.

I decided to resume trail-running and cricket in order to de-stress and help me feel more refreshed. On Sundays, I played a cricket match which lasted almost an entire day.

During this time, I forgot about work for a bit and for me, it had the same effect that sleep does. When you go to sleep, you forget about all your stress and anxiety. This was what I felt on the cricket field or in the mountains.

While I was on the cricket field I just focused on playing the game and I wouldn’t stress about the work that I had to do.

Image courtesy of Emily Norris

My passion for trail-running and the views that I saw as I ran through the forests and the mountain trails really helped me, because it was something that motivated me to keep working.

If you’re reading this article and you’ve never tried playing sport as a way to de-stress, I strongly suggest that you give it a try. If cricket or trail-running isn’t your cup of tea, or if you just hate sport in general, find some sort of physical exercise that you are able to do. Even if it’s just an evening walk or some daily stretches.

Sport helped me throughout my last year of school and continues to help me as I try to get through varsity. By engaging in physical activity you’ll see the positive impact that it will have on your mental health, your attitude towards yourself, and your life in general.

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