Last week was Mental Health Awareness Day and I am delighted that the subject is becoming more talked about and the stigma surrounding mental health is reducing.
Looking after your mental health is a continuous journey and being able to take care of your self so you can take of others can be challenging. We often neglect ourselves and keep giving and giving to others to then feel empty with very little reserves for ourselves.
Seeing exercise as something we ought to do or should do for our health needs to change. How about re-framing it, to be something we do as we personally value its positive benefits to our well-being.
Our personal well-being can be defined as the sense of feeling good about ourselves and being able to function well individually or in a relationship. That statement asks a lot of us. Relationships whether personal or professional are complex and feeling good about we are subjective and certainly not consistent.
What I do know and have personally experienced is the powerful positive impact of the right food and fitness.
In 2010 after the sudden death of my husband I spiralled downwards trying to deal with the new life I didn’t want that had been thrown at me. From the demands of a full-time career, the practicalities of dealing with the death of a spouse, monthly bills that continue to need to be paid and simply getting myself up in the morning. I was trying to make sense of the gaping whole in my life, the sheer terror of coping day to day and the uncertainty and fear of the future without my husband.
It’s important to acknowledge that grief and mental health and two completely different things but for me the impact of losing my husband developed into mental health challenges including severe anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Food and Fitness was a huge part of both our lives and we were both very passionate about the positive impact of both on our well-being.
During the confusion and fear, I continued to push myself to exercise, it was the only thing that gave me some relief from what was happening. When my anxiety was severe I pushed myself to exercise more. It’s often said that exercise is the most underused anti-depressant to a certain extent I agree with this.
Without exercise I would not be where I am today, its not a quick fix or a perfect solution but what it does provide, is a positive outlet for the day to day stresses that we all experience.
Here are my top 5 reasons why exercise has a positive impact on your mental health:
One of the most common mental health benefits of exercise is reducing your stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate your brain's response to stress.
Improve Self Confidence:
Exercise can quickly elevate your sense of self-worth, working through a fitness session and achieving your goals is a great way to build self-confidence and self-esteem, both having a positive impact on your self-image.
Exposure to nature is proven to have a positive effect on your mental and physical health along with boosting our Vitamin D levels. Being outside in a pleasant environment has a positive effect not only on your exercise performance but also on your self-esteem.
Chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help you with anxiety disorders calm down. Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity.
Helping with exhaustion and fatigue:
When you are feeling tired sometimes the last thing you want to do is exercise but it’s the best thing to do as exercise is an energiser. Studies have shown that exercise can dramatically reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.
I haven’t met anyone who is completely devoid of stressful situations that at time challenge their mental health. For some it’s easier to cope than others, but what I do know is that those that embrace fitness as a consistent element of their day to day life have never said that their mental health was better for not exercising.
If you would like to work 1-1 with Louise and experience the physical and mental benefits of the right food and fitness for you, visit my website:
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