6 Physical Activities That Can Help Heal Your Mind

Your mental health isn't just in your mind — in fact, doing specific physical things can benefit your emotional health, too.

joyful woman in shorts and bikini top in front of a Caribbean beach TuiPhotoEngineer / Shutterstock 

Life's challenges can make it difficult to stay positive and trusting. We may get angry and frustrated when our free time is infringed upon, we have a dreaded workday scheduled, or things just don't go our way or meet our expectations.

The attachment we have to outcomes, or the way things should be in our minds is the cause of our mental and emotional suffering.

Keeping our thoughts upward is no small feat. We're battling years of internal and external programming, but it can be done. We can start with little spurts here and there, then request the support of others to help us stay on track when we hit our threshold.


This is not to say that we can't get angry or feel discordant emotions, but rather, in spite of the uncomfortable, distressing experiences, we can maintain a hopeful perspective and steadfast mindset. Here are a few ways in which we can keep our thoughts upward, in good times and in challenging ones.


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Six physical activitis that deeply benefit your mental well-being

1. Get up and move.

Put that phone away and go for a walk, run up and down a flight of stairs three or four times, take a drive to a park or to the gym or cook a meal. You don’t even have to leave home and can blast music on your headphones while you dance or clean your home.

Movement gets your blood going, shifts the oxygen in the brain, and allows some of your thoughts and emotions to pass through or subside, allowing clarity to surface.

2. Express gratitude.

We all know that keeping a gratitude journal can reap positive benefits. Why not take it one step further and extend that practice to others? Perhaps write a note to a friend or relative you truly appreciate. Respond to a local business’ social media post about how good their product is. Comment positively about someone’s caring behavior.


In a strong gratitude practice, you can always find good happening when things go awry, some of which you may even take for granted. Encouraging yourself to find what you are grateful for and sharing your appreciation with others can open the door to heartful connections with those around you.

Expressing gratitude can also soften any sadness, anger, or frustration you may be experiencing and open your mind to more possibilities other than a potential negative spiral.

3. Set intentions.

Starting the day or a gathering with an intention is a wonderful practice because it sets the tone for the hours ahead. It’s like applying a primer coat on a wall before painting. Making sure to set your intentions for the day increases the likelihood that things will progress as planned.

This can be as simple as intending that the day be joyous or as detailed as intending that you will be calm, articulate, and light-hearted for the duration of a particular meeting.


To give the intention even more power, try stating the intention aloud, or with a group of people. Stating the intention can make it more real for some and allows that energy to move about in ways to bring back exactly what you’re intending.

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4. Do breathwork.

Breathing has amazing effects on your physical, mental, and emotional states. Just by breathing differently over the course of a minute or two or 20, your perception can shift dramatically or subtly. Being able to use your breath to shift your thoughts from dire to neutral or better, is a wonderful skill to have. And it can be done anywhere!

5. Experiment with Walking Prayer or Meditation.

While breathwork can be a meditation on its own, different types of meditation can bring about mental and emotional clarity or ease the turbulent emotions you may be experiencing. Through prayer or mindful meditation, you highlight how you’re feeling about the situation at hand and ask ‘Source’ or yourself questions about how to proceed.


Are you feeling responsible for something that’s not your responsibility? Why is this situation triggering you? What is the next best course of action or inaction? This type of practice leads you to a better relationship with and understanding of yourself and helps you access the ideas and courage to live according to your truth.  

You can even expand your experience by doing a walking prayer or meditation; gather a group of people to pray together or mindfully walk in nature together. You may also try journaling about your experience in the moment or after with a mindful and insightful approach.  

6. Take action.

Where applicable, be sure to follow through with your thoughts, intentions, and dreams. Sitting idly by and waiting for your life to change creates the tendency for heavier thoughts and emotions to prevail, which can result in stagnation and bitterness.

Contact the person you’ve been wanting to connect with or apologize to; write that email or business plan that’s been on your list to complete; or sign up for a class that incorporates another skill so you can increase your chances of a promotion or successful job change.  


Allow yourself the time to daydream, doodle, and imagine a best-case scenario for all involved. By taking steps towards this positive outcome, you’ll see how gracefully different aspects of your life unfold!

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Pamela Aloia is a certified grief coach, intuitive/medium, and author of inspirational books. Pamela supports people through change and helps them enhance their lives and experiences via energy awareness, meditation, and mindfulness.