MENTAL HEALTH vs. PHYSICAL HEALTH
Mental health is so important. However, the fitness industry often overlooks it and only speaks about physical health. Unless I had a serious physical health problem, I find I personally struggle with mental health much more than physical health on the day to day. I always have, I just assume most people do, but we do not talk about it as openly. Fitness and health has always come very easy to me. I do it every day, done, no questions. Mental health I work on every day, most times by the hour and it is more of a struggle to find a groove with it like I can physical health. It makes sense I guess, the physical health is more of a math equation. If I eat X amount I gain or lose X amount. If I lift x amount I get stronger. There is little deviation, some things do not go as planned but it is easy to course correct for the most part. The mental side of things (life, work, relationships, waking up, money) takes a lot of energy and it wears me out most times. When I am firing on all cylinders mentally, life just seems so open and fresh. I seek to maintain that constant high, whereas with fitness I am usually pretty good. I seem to have the physical figured out and it works very regularly in my life, so why not mental health? Even if I am not on a high or a groove with fitness, I always seem to be happy enough with it that I don’t miss a beat. How is it that some people get the physical end of things with meals and workouts and cannot seem to fully get the mental and others crush the mental but cannot get everything they want out of the physical?
I am writing this because maybe someone will read this and feel connected with this topic. Hopefully it makes them feel a bit more connected that these two worlds don’t always meet perfectly for other people as well. Especially because it is coming from a place of business and we (gyms, trainers) always are portraying nothing but the positive, and sending messages that everything is good all the time. To know someone who attempts to convey a positive image both personally and within the business, is also willing to say “It isn’t just a physical hurdle we always have to cross, there is a mental barrier we need to cross in order to be successful as well.” These two things intersect and they both take work.
A POSSIBLE OUTLET
One thing I have been doing every day is write down in a note book three words. They describe how I feel that day. An example would be; tired, stressed, and motivated. I look at those words because those three words are leading my emotions and thus dictating how I approach the day, to me that means this is what will fuel me today. Depending on the words, that could be good or bad. To me, I would need 2 of three words to be positive. I try to understand why I feel that way. Then I try to change that over the course of the day, or week or whatever works. Maybe if I see stress pop up almost every day then I need to care for myself a bit more. A massage maybe, or vacation even. If it is, tired, then I need to put myself to bed earlier. The idea is to make my three words get into a positive place so I don’t let the negative lead me. Doing this drill allows me to put those words out into the universe which lessens the negative feelings and it makes me see myself or confront what is happening. If I do not like what I see then it makes me want to change it because I do not want other people to have this take on me either. I want people to feel positivity, my positivity.
I have also tried doing this with another person who I respect and trust because often times we see others in a positive light even when we do not see ourselves that way. Expressing these words help to get it out (vent) and it allows some positive feedback and or sparks a conversation. If my friend feels negative as well, I can now send three positive words back to my friend which reflect the way I see them and maybe help to shift the outlook. Or if they are positive, surrounding myself with others who are positive can help lighten the weight off my shoulders as well.
For me I notice writing the words down for myself, and seeing them has helped me to focus specifically on what it is I need to improve on and find long term solutions, and anything I write which is positive I also focus on maintaining.
IT IS ALL IN THE APPROACH
I decided basically to approach my mental health much like my physical health. I am identifying the issue. Not what the world would consider what would make me happy and what should make me negative but what actually is making these things occur. Much like fitness, I look at what I want, what makes Dennis’s fitness happy. Ie. I don’t care if I can run 10 miles or not, so running is a no go for me. No matter how much a read about how running is great. Much like my physical health it is a revolving door, it is ever changing and I can’t sit still on it. But at least now I have a way to marry both worlds and create a game plan on both ends.
I do think for some people it is just easy to be positive. Some people just see the world through a positive lense, and stress is not as much of a factor for them. To me, and this has no research behind it, I feel it is a chemical thing. If it was a matter of choice, everyone would choose to be awesome. Like many other things in life, some people excel at positivity and others struggle with it.
SOCIAL MEDIA JUST BUGS ME
I do have to say I think forms of social media can really make us feel down about ourselves. Social media has a way of making everyone else seem like they are living a great happy life, and in turn you feel like you are missing out. Even if we know it is not true. I also dislike the positive sayings people post. I did it for years on my business page as well. It is part of the social media cycle. But they are short term fixes designed to give you a split second of a high, where I think we need long term solutions. Again, much like health and all the short term solutions and promises which may give you short term success, but nothing in the long term. That is what I feel social media does. It pleases us, or stimulates our brains in the short term and then we crash right after. Which leaves us scrolling for that next hit that peaks our interest. No different than eating that piece of chocolate, loving the moment then quickly being left feeling like we need another piece to keep it going. I personally use social media for news, local business’s, and fitness articles. These things feel more educational for me as opposed to the other uses of social media.
So from one mental head to another, the struggle is real. It is good to work on it, recognize it, but it is not ok to allow it slow your progress down.