Mental health. That one sentence has meant more in the past year than in any year before it.
Yet, we find ourselves still questioning what it means, how to obtain it, and even more importantly, how come we can never quite master it.
Now I’d like to begin this post by saying, I’m not a Therapist / Counsellor, but I do have my own story and how taking care of my body, help take care of my mind too.
It begins with losing a loved one.
That feeling of loss and loneliness brought about feelings of sadness that I’m sure many of us have experienced. These feelings got worse the longer I dwelled in them, and that initial grieving period soon spiraled out of control into a depression that lasted longer than expected.
Given the last year’s lockdown, those feelings came back and so did those feelings of low mood and depression.
Now, when we’re in this negative spiral, we almost feel like we can’t get back out. We feel lost, confused. We don’t believe anyone truly cares about us, and our life takes a certain greyness to it. What was once easy, such as putting on our shoes, getting ready, and going out, soon becomes a chore. We get trapped in our heads and feelings and don’t know any better.
But there was a light for me, and it started one day when I least expected it. Now I’ve been a coach for the past 9 years of my life and helped many men &women reclaim their body confidence and look amazing. Despite all of that on my resume, I still found myself at a low point.
It was one day when I read about Tyson Fury (the Heavyweight boxing champion you may have heard about) on the Internet. I soon found myself watching videos of him speaking about his own troubles. How a man at the height of his career, crumbled down and almost committed suicide before realizing how good his life really was.
Needless to say, he turned it around and his story motivated me to do the same. Here’s how he did it:
The first thing he spoke about was needing a goal.
Having something to aim for, gives us purpose in life. Having something to strive for, gives us an almost fire in our belly again that ignites something deep within us.
For me, that goal was to get back into shape, so I got started on a 6-week training plan to get myself back on track.
He then spoke about exercising daily.
Either a strength session or as light as a walk outside / or activities we like to do. So I committed to a training plan and tried to include more surfing/outdoor sports and walks into the 6 weeks.
He then went on to describe how eating well and fuelling our bodies, can help us feel great.
As a coach, I knew this was true, but at the time I just wasn’t in that train of thought. So I started eating well again. Within the first week, my entire mood had shifted. As soon as good food was going into my body, my training was filling me with endorphins and dopamine, and I was on track to achieving my goals.
I started to feel amazing.
Within one week, my mood has shifted from incredibly low feelings of sadness, loss, and depression and now there was a vibrancy to life again. All of this made sense to me. As a coach for 9 years, I never expected to almost forget about how good training and good nutrition are for your body.
But as mental health can blind us from what we already know, it’s important to realize that getting to grips with it, can show us the way forward.
With that story out of the way, here are some things I’ve learned and experienced that really helped me get to grips on my own mental health:
1. Talking to someone:
As cliche, as it sounds, being open to someone and venting, can help immensely in releasing your pain and help you understand how you’re feeling. Plus it gets you out of your head.
2. Mindfulness / Meditation:
Once again, the benefits of being mindful are numerous. Taking just 5 minutes per day to practice being present in your body, can have massive benefits. It can take you out of your head, control any anxiety or depression and allow you realize that life really is right now. Everything else is a memory or future projection.
Doing some activity every day and having a plan to train can literally change your mood instantly. It’s probably the fastest method to making a huge difference in how you feel, because of the hormones that are produced and blood/oxygen being circulated around your body.
4. Good food:
Starting with eating more veg/fruit in your diet and drinking more water is all it takes to start feeling like you are heading in the right direction. Plus everything from skin, brain, and heart health will start to get you feeling like the person you are again.
5. Accept where you’re at:
Accepting your circumstances can take the pressure of needing to be elsewhere. Sometimes taking that step back can open you up to taking more action towards what you do want.
6. Do something for you:
Lastly, self-care and doing things you love to do. Are essential for giving you the love you deserve. Sometimes we really do need to take a step back and do something we love to reignite our passion. The key here is to do something you actually love.
I really hope these tips have helped you understand a little more about the role physical health can play in your mental health.
I’m not a trained professional in this field, but as a trained professional in the fitness field, I can attest that sometimes we all get a little lost, lonely and sad. It can often take just a little push in the right direction to give you that momentum and upwards spiral again that fill you with joy and inspiration.
I wish you all the best. Life begins beyond your comfort zone.