A timely blog to give credit and recognition for today - a day when we should all place focus on the part of the body that you just don't get to see, and is often neglected until it is too late (by which point you may be catastrophising men in white coats are calling for a padded room, and it can be kid of tough to come back from this. When mental health starts to fail it can take a lot of help and motivation to balance things out again. Ironically this comes at a time when most people lack the coping skills to make this happen easily.
I am such a HUGE advocate of being both aware of, and committed to, ‘training’ the mind as a whole focused entity, for any healthy lifestyle plan to work with balance. And it pains me to see how often this area is not only overlooked, but also abused in the fitness and health industry, which I am part of. The frequency with which I see ‘supposed’ pinnacles of health (cue- six pack central, post workout gym go hard or go home sweat drenched selfie types) post articles and images offering motivational advises, when behind the scenes signs of body dismorphia, obsessive compulsive behaviours, depressive and anxiety related disorders are often the reality of the lifestyle many are choosing to hide behind. This is not to knock those suffering with mental health conditions. More than anything I am keen to point out that mental health conditions can and do impact on EVERYONE and ANYONE regardless of the image that is presented before you.
We have all had times in our lives when we ‘think we may be going mad’. Hormones in women can turn the most rationale of females into feeling like a prison cell maybe the only answer as to how to get us through the week without harming a third party. Conversely men (who are often much less likely to report or articulate feelings of poor mental health) can often act aggressively through feelings of low mood and frustrations due to a lack of understanding about what is going on.
Is the most powerful function of the human body.
Make sure you look after yours.
My TOP Tips for sharing the love of Mental Health Awareness Day and staying ‘as sane as you can’ in the crazy word we live in.
Firstly -try and think about Mental Health maintenance, as you do with your physical fitness regime. There will be days you are less strong and feel weaker than normal. This can depend on other lifestyle factors and stresses. On days when life feels ‘too much’- be KIND to yourself. Learn when to say no. Learn to find balance and know when to rest your mind. Relax, Sleep, Eat. Try and avoid social media or anything that may lead to ‘a racing mind’. Try and think about things that increase your stress levels and ‘manage’ these days by ensuring enough relaxations (above) are included within them.
Mental Health is not a clear cut case of ‘mad or sane’. I have worked as part of a joint system (which deals with very seriously mentally unwell folk for a number of years) and what I can say without reservation is that mental health is always on some sort of ‘continuum’. It is very rarely black or white. This is a helpful way to look at mental health as whatever is going on in your head at any one time is likely to change.
Whilst I am not a specialist mental health nurse I know enough to see that mental health stability is variant and changeable. Some very severe conditions may need hospitalisation and medication. However there are very few conditions that cannot be ‘improved in some way’ by changes to lifestyle factors. As with any fitness, strength, weight loss plan, small changes all add up. A daily walk in the park, some increase day light (a vitamin D supplement over winter months), less time on social media, less alcohol ( a depressant), more balanced nutrition, increased socialisations (with real people), reading a book, practising yoga, meditation….the list goes on. These are all real life practical examples of how you can improve mental health clarity in daily lives.
Strong in Body and Strong in Mind. Whilst I recognise these factors are not exclusive, there is no doubt that they are interlinked. It is very difficult to lift an iron bar with a number of weight plates on it and leave the gym feeling depressed or with low self esteem. Barbells may not be for everyone, but find an exercise that works for you, and makes you feel good and strong inside. If Jazzacise makes you feel like ‘the bomb’ who am I to argue. Whatever your exercise choice is- if you enjoy it -there is no doubt it will have beneficial impact on your mental health. Happy hormones are released during exercise -they are the ‘good stuff’ the mind needs to work well. Do all you can to increase them naturally.
DITCH the EGO/Shame- whatever you want to call it. If you feel your mental health is tipping into a place which you feel less happy about, then speak out. Tell someone who you think will understand -it doesn’t have to be a medical professional- it could just be a friend. Very few people have lived a fruitful life and not had dips and flows in their mental wellbeing. It’s all part of life rich tapestry. Being aware of your own health is a responsibility that we should all take seriously. In this day and age its ‘cool to be clued into how you feel’……
Stay Strong Folks- And if you feel like you need more guidance in the area of Mental Health visit