Counselor Maddy shows you a few up and down regulation activities for mental wellness. Please consult your physician before starting any exercise program. Special thanks to Power Level Gym in Huntsville for letting us use their gym! A transcript of this video is available below.

Video Transcription:

Hey guys. My name’s Madelyn. I am one of the counselors at Garrett Counseling. I’m here at one of my favorite places to be, that is power level gym in Huntsville. Today I just kind of wanted to make a video to show you guys some different exercises that I do that benefit my mental health in a really good way. Physical health and mental health are both very important to me, and this is something that I really stress with clients to kind of take into consideration when you are struggling. There are tons of benefits to being physically active and doing exercise. It improves your sleep, it improves your mental health, it improves your brain chemistry, it gives you all of those little happy brain chemistry, bring chemicals. And overall it’s just really good.

If you’ve never been physically active or had a physically active lifestyle, it can be kind of a little intimidating, but as I always stress to everybody, anything that’s overwhelming, just take baby steps. Some of the exercises that I want to go over today are going to be up regulating exercises and down regulating exercises. So up regulation involves getting yourself energized, waking yourself up. These are exercises that we practice in therapy to help get you motivated and to help you feel good and feel energized and awake. And very similarly to physical exercise, there are specific exercises that help you feel motivated to work out.

And additionally, there are down regulation exercises that we also do in therapy. These are more akin to breathing techniques. This is the opposite of up regulating. This is calming yourself down when you feel really hyperactive, when you feel really energized and you want to take a breather. So very similarly, kind of like how we have in therapy where we focus a lot on breathing exercises and grounding. When you do physical exercise, a lot of times what you do after you’ve had strenuous exercises, you do stretches and you do exercises that help you calm down.

So I just want to cover those today and kind of teach you guys how to do them. You can do these at home, you can do these in a gym, you can do these wherever you’re comfortable in whatever your safe place is. Again, I highly encourage anybody who is interested and wants to get started on the fitness journey to check it out and give yourself a chance. Take baby steps. A lot of times even just brisk walking or running a day can really help you. Okay. So I’m going to teach you about up regulation exercises. So I’m going to come over here.

So this is an exercise that requires a medicine ball. So if you’re at the gym and you have a medicine ball available, this is what you need. This is one of those exercises that you do typically that’s paired with cardio, but it’s also an exercise that not only stretches you really well, but it also kind of wakes you up. It’s pretty simple. I have a 10 pound medicine ball right here. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to take it. All right, throw it and take it. And we’re there. And you can do this as many times as you want. You want to make sure that you’re not doing it too much, because you don’t want it to tire you out, but you just want it to really wake up those muscles. That’s one up regulation exercise.

The next one that you can do is called box jumping. So I’m going to take this little box right here. This is one that I would encourage you doing very safely. So I had to turn the box over because my legs really aren’t that long. I’m not that adventurous when it comes to the box jumping. But again, this is just another exercise that’s going to get your heart pumping, that’s going to kind of wake you up a little bit. So what you do is stand. Actually, I’m going to move this right here. You’re going to stand and you’re going to jump. And you do it again. And remember to extend your knees so when you’re hitting, you’re standing up. And doing that a handful of times, keeping in mind to not do it too much to wear you’re tiring yourself out is also going to be a good up regulation exercise for the gym.

The last one is pretty simple. This last one doesn’t require anything. It’s just doing jumping jacks. So this is something that I do with kids sometimes in my sessions when they are feeling very lackluster or very non-motivated, maybe a little tired. If they’re not seeming too interested, then I’ll be like, “Hey, let’s get moving. Let’s move our bodies.” That’s the importance of up regulating. It’s getting your body moving, it’s getting your blood flowing. It’s not only waking you up your body, it’s waking you up your brain.

So remember with up regulation to keep your exercises a little bit of moderation so you’re not tiring yourself out and kind of being counterproductive to waking yourself up. So now I want to cover down regulation exercises. So these are the exercises that I particularly like. These are the exercises that I do after my workouts. And these are the kind of exercises that are really beneficial for clients who maybe have a hard time with hyperactivity and pulsivity. These are exercises that are going to help ground you, help reign your focus back in, and also slow your hurry down and kind of…

So I’m really up regulated right now. So I’m super hyperactive, super energized, my heart’s pumping. I could do more things if I wanted to, but since I’m so hyperactive, I’m like, let’s take a breather. One interesting thing about working out that you can link back to mental health is lifting heavy weights. And weight lifting in general requires a lot of concentration and a lot of breathing. If you are someone that is interested in weight lifting and getting into lifting heavier weights, that requires a lot of breathing in as you lift the weights up and then breathing out as you put them down to help ground you and concentrate.

So I’m going to show you a couple of exercises that I do. These can be done with or without weights. I have some weights here with me just to use them, but I want to show you some down regulations. So if you’re at a gym, if you’re not at a gym, you don’t need these, but it can be kind of beneficial to have. So these are called Romanian deadlifts. They’re called RDLs. What I kind of want to focus on with this is focusing on breathing. So remember we’re doing this exercise to down regulate and to calm down. So what you’re going to do is you’re going to hold these right here. And if you don’t have any, you can just use your hands. You’re going to go all the way down and then all the way back up.

So before you do this, what you would do breathing wise is you would take down a deep breath. So inhale as you’re coming up and then exhale as you’re going down. You want to make sure that unlike the other exercises, you’re doing these very slowly and measured and you’re really focusing on your form and you’re really focusing on your breathing because that’s what’s going to help steady your heart rate.

The next down regulation exercise I want to show is called a hip flexor. So this is more of stretching. So before and after exercise, you always want to make sure you stretch so that your muscles are good. So with hip flexors it’s kind of like a lean. What you’re going to do is you’re going to… And you’re going to stretch just like that. I’ll do it from side as well. So you make sure you have your hands on your hip and you’re really just stretching this back leg and this front leg here. And then you get up, do the same thing, switch legs. Again, this is another exercise that you can incorporate breathing into. You just really want to focus on stretching those muscles out, making sure they’re getting a nice, good stretch, making sure that you’re calming yourself down.

The last one that I want to show you is called a windmill. This is another one that you can do with or without a weight. What you do is you hold the weight up, you put your hand on your hip and you stretch all the way to the side, and then you switch hands. Hold it up all the way. You want to make sure that you feel a good stretch right here. And again, you can incorporate breathing into this. So as you lean forward, you hold your breath.

So those are just some exercises that I like to do. Those are really good for down regulating and up regulating. And again, I will be making some blogs that kind of go a little more into detail about the benefits of exercise and its impact on mental health. So thank you guys for watching. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you learned something. Thank you.