While Jenna Coleman’s acting roles haven’t been particularly physically taxing, they have been extremely mentally draining. She called her time playing Monique on The Serpent an ‘anxiety-inducing experience’ and said that filming as Joanna in The Cry was such an ‘emotional rollercoaster’ that at times she just ‘wanted to get away’.
Any of you loyal WH readers will know how much we believe in the power of exercise for mental health, and Coleman is proof that it works. Over the years, it’s exercise that has helped her maintain some sense of calm, and her hacks go the extra mile. She doesn’t just do any old thing, she’s cemented a routine that’s intentionally designed to ease stress and anxiety, as opposed to just working out and enjoying the mental benefits as a byproduct. So, if ever you’re feeling particularly wired, or perhaps you’re after some more granular advice on how to exercise for your mental health, this one’s for you.
1.She trains her mental and physical health at once
Even if exercise and meditation are already on rotation in your routine, chances are you don’t do them together, but have you ever considered how that would feel? Coleman has spoken about her love for ‘The Class by Taryn Toomey’ in several interviews. It’s a form of ‘meditation, cardio and conditioning in one,’ Coleman explains, adding that ‘It’s one of the only workouts that makes such an effort to combine mental and physical health into one.’
In another interview with Harper's Bazaar, she said, ‘I found it so liberating and therapeutic. I really recommend it to get rid of that stagnant energy.’
You can try The Class for yourself using a free trial.
2. She works out in the morning
You know how having to do a workout can sometimes hang over your head all day until it’s done? Coleman says she gets around that by getting it done first thing. ‘I love to get up at like 5am or 6am and have that quiet time in the morning,’ she told Byrdie. ‘It sets me up for the rest of the day. I try to do a workout then, so I’m done by 9AM.’
Granted, we’re not all morning people and the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn may well be impossible, but giving yourself the ‘quiet time’ Coleman mentions isn’t. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, make the time and you’ll reap the rewards.
3. She makes meditation her own
Meditation is hard. We get it. And Coleman knows the deal, so she makes her practice her own by using a sauna blanket and a podcast.
‘In the UK, it’s so dark and cold during the winter, so I would get into a sauna blanket and put on a podcast. I guess that’s been my form of meditation,’ she said in an interview with Byrdie. Moral of the story: meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence with your eyes closed. Find a guided meditation you can listen to and get into a comfortable position, sitting or lying. You do you.
4. She practices yoga
You’ve probably heard this all before, but yoga really does make a difference when it comes to your mental health. ‘It’s great to me just in terms of my breath and anxiety,’ Coleman told Byrdie. ‘It seems to settle my nervous system.’ The proof is in the pudding, but don't just take Coleman's word for it. Research has shown that the conscious breathing and execution of yoga postures strengthens nerve transmissions from the body to the brain, which decreases stress and muscular tension, while more restorative yoga poses activate the parasympathetic nervous system, in turn reducing anxiety, fear and anger.
5. She practices hot and cold water therapy
Anyone with Instagram will know the world has gone wild for ice baths. It’s a phenomenon said to boost your immune system and reduce stress, and by the same token, Coleman swears by combining cold showers with hot.
In an interview with Sheerluxe, she said: ‘I’ve recently started taking hot-cold showers in the morning. You take your normal shower at your normal temperature and then blast yourself with cold water at the end. It makes you feel so fresh and healthy – it’s so good for your lymphatic system and it really shows up in your skin. Also, it gives me such a clear head to be able to tackle the day.’
Try 30 seconds of cold followed by 30 seconds of hot, five times, and see how you feel.
6. She strength trains
If a lack of confidence is contributing to anxiety, give strength training or weightlifting a go. The sense of accomplishment that comes with nailing a new move or hitting a PB will boost your self-esteem no end, and Coleman is a huge proponent. She previously trained with PT Matt Bevan, who shared a vid of her crushing some pull-ups.
7. She uses salts to support her recovery
After admitting that she could spend up to two hours in a bath (same here, sista), Coleman said that she swears by adding Epsom and magnesium salts to the water to aid muscle recovery.
And PSA: using magnesium for recovery is not a myth. Studies have shown that it blocks calcium uptake and regulates the contraction of muscles, which allow them to fully relax. Go figure.
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