As contradicting as it may sound, exercise and physical activity can have a great impact on our mental health – both positive and negatively. A great workout can do wonders for the body, and it can also help improve the mind and mood. But, why is it that many active individuals in the fitness industry also find moments where they might despite themselves and experience anxiousness and stress?
The modern trend influences most of us through the top-selling magazines, celebrities, and fitness models that surround us on a day to day basis, and it constantly encourages us to jump on to the next bandwagon unconsciously, leading us to dislike our selves, and more importantly, our bodies.
However, what we fail to realize is that the latest trends that push us to believe that certain foods are considered “bad”, or “cheating” when it comes to our bodies and staying fit, are actually harming our mental well-being.
What is mental well-being?
Mental well-being is about feeling good, realizing your potential, exerting a positive image of yourself and your surroundings. It’s also well responsible for the feelings of being confident, content, happy, expressing good self-esteem and overall, enjoying life. When it comes to mental well-being in relation to the fitness space, we can classify good mental health as:
- Caring and taking care of yourself
- Loving yourself, not hating yourself
- Looking after your physical health, including eating well, exercising well, and sleeping well
- Seeing yourself as valuable
- Reasonably judging yourself, not setting impossible goals or punishing yourself when such goals aren’t met
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves suffering in silence. Just a glimpse at some “cheat” foods keeps us preoccupied with thoughts of completely degrading ourselves in negative thoughts. Not taking care of your mental health can result in irritability – making activities that we once enjoyed much less pleasant.
The Importance of Mental Health
Poor care of one’s mental-health may also result in multiple mental-health related conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) amongst others. In the fitness industry, mental-health can progress into a much common issue which we’ve come to know as eating disorders, especially when one is already suffering from anxiety or depression.
As we mentioned earlier, many who deal with mental-related conditions suffer in silence due to the stigma that revolves around, making it difficult to seek help. Likewise, it is very difficult to let mental health progress into a serious condition, which could greatly affect one’s quality of life.
Recognizing When It’s Time To Take Care of Your Mental Health
There are a few situations which may indicate that one may need to attend more to the overall health of their mental well-being, and if you’re experiencing any of these scenarios, we also provide some tips to help you take a step towards a healthier and happier life.Source: https://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/gcms/Calorie-Counting-Rules-for-Weight-Loss
You find yourself obsessively counting calories and food intake
We live in a world where apps have become incredibly easy to access at the blink of an eye, and many of those in the fitness space may overuse calorie and macro tracking applications. Those who fall into this unhealthy trend then become manipulated into thinking that food is no longer a delicacy, but rather a composition of digits and numbers amounting to calorie intake.
We don’t appreciate food for what it really is for some people in the fitness space – and that’s because we allow ourselves to calculate each gram, each ounce, the number of carbs, calories, and sugars that are accompanied with a certain food.
A great way to repair this mindset is by simply relishing food for what it is – don’t eat by the numbers, but eat to enjoy the taste while remaining nutritious. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a food from a nutritious food group, such as carbohydrates, fat, proteins, fruits, and especially vegetables.)
Chew your food slowly, thoroughly, savor the taste, and rethink that food is meant to energize and satisfy, not destroy you. Appreciate food for what it is, rather than just pure digits and numbers to your meal.
You exercise only with the intent to burn off calories instead of for a healthier lifestyle
It’s not difficult to miss this type of situation. When we look at the big pictures in the fitness industry, we sometimes tend to use those as motivation. But sometimes, this can become an unhealthy habit. When you exercise purely for wanting to burn off calories that you consume, you can actually do more harm to your overall health.
One should want to exercise with motivation to lead a healthier lifestyle, not just continuously lose weight. Although it is possible to do both at the same time, a healthy way of living will naturally progress into a healthier weight and calorie intake as well.
A good way to combat this is to set your motivation towards building strength, maintaining a healthier lifestyle, and building up your stamina as opposed to simply calculating the amount of calories you need to burn off. An easy and effortless way to approach this is by simply doing an activity that you enjoy, and there are limitless activities to choose from to suit your taste, such as hiking, swimming, weightlifting, tennis, running, snowboarding, skiing, martial arts, and many others.
You negatively and frequently talk to and about yourself
Words are powerful. Sadly, many of us use them to drag ourselves down rather than to lighten ourselves up. It’s easy to make this a habit – especially in the fitness space. When it comes to fad diets, and comparing ourselves to models, we find more and more that we use the words “fat”, “cheat food”, “bad”, or “unhealthy”, when in reality, we are over dramatizing.
You’ve probably heard of the technique that involves with greeting yourself in the mirror with loving words, such as, “I love myself.” or “I am beautiful.” – and this has been shown to greatly improve one’s self image.
Turning this once negative habit into a positive habit can greatly improve your overall mental-health. It will definitely be difficult to get into the positive habit from the get-go, but you can start off with replacing a pessimistic word with an affirming, contrasting term.
You follow or obsessively admire fashion models via Social Media
Today’s exposure to social media instantly allows us access in the blink of an eye to numerous models and trends, which results in setting unrealistic standards for us, without us even knowing!
A small part of our inner thoughts push us towards constantly comparing ourselves to those in the photos, which can be very unhealthy especially when doubts and insecurities of one’s self and body have been bottled up in the process.
This wasn’t so easy in the past – social media has made things much more accessible nowadays. If you find yourself scrolling through social media and hitting that like or follow button simply for admiring their “perfect” body, face, or life, it’s better not to.
Doing this can make you feel insecure and bad about yourself and greatly affect your mental well-being. It’s not wrong to follow or life on social media, but be sure you know your intentions for doing so – and not just for admiration.
You believe that physical health is a priority over mental health and spiritual health
Mental health is just as important as mental, physical, and spiritual health is. It’s important to keep an equal balance between all three states of health. A few tips to help take a step towards
towards a healthier life is to relax.
When someone is overwhelmed, it can help to just stop things for a few moments and to take a deep breath.
This tip doesn’t just fall exclusively for the fitness space, but can be done in any situation where you begin to feel overwhelmed. You should take time to acknowledge when you are not at your best and take the necessary steps to find your center and balance again.
Living a Healthy Life in Balance
It’s not possible to prioritize one of the primary healths over the other, which are mental, physical, and spiritual. In order to live a healthy life, you must take care of all three – and oftentimes, our mental health goes unnoticed.
Recovering from a mental illness can be very difficult, and it’s a battle that requires consistency and patience – but is always possible to overcome. You must be able to recognize when and what the problem is, and face it heads-on by starting with the tips we have provided above.
Julianne Macaraeg has been writing and sharing her expertise within the health industry for the past several years. She envisions the opportunity for individuals to reach their full potential by taking a realistic approach towards health, applying contributing factors that makes each individual unique. When she isn’t passionately writing, she’s cuddled up with her two dogs after a long run. Content writer at vitaleafnaturals.com