At Recreate, we work with people on a daily basis who deal with a mental illness of some form - some diagnosed and some not.
I’m passionate about supporting those with mental health challenges as I have seen close friends and family suffer. You never know who it may effect, or when. Mental health issues can arise at any time. Sometimes the thoughts and feelings take over and other times they can be kept at bay or managed effectively.
One of the effective ways to give your mental health a boost is exercise. We can use it as an outlet to feel better, overcome challenges and hang out with other people who have our back.
Often, exercise can also be a way to start the conversation – whether it’s sharing how you’ve been feeling lately, or making people realise you're approachable on the subject and someone they can turn to.
With Mental Health Awareness Week coming up, I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas about why exercise is important for your mental health, and how you can use it as a positive tool.
1. Exercise gets you outside!
Get some air, go outside and see new places - it’s refreshing. Not only do you get the benefits of vitamin D from sunlight, but there’s something special about being at one with nature. Zone out and take some time to smell the roses.
Exercising outdoors is also a great way to be social. It’s as simple as meeting with some people and going for a coffee and a walk.
We often need to get out of our current environment to let go of that overloaded mental to-do list. Often after a run or walk I find I’m able to tackle those unthinkable tasks by getting away from the problem and not looking for the answers - just letting the mind wander.
2. It helps you unplug
It’s so important to regularly escape the rat race of life. Sometimes we get too caught up in the ideas inside our own head. We say things like... I’m too busy to exercise… or I’ve got too much work on so I don’t have time to go and catch up with friends. Often it’s hard to think at all and we become unproductive.
To re-set, you need to go tools down, unplug, get out of your normal environment and out of your own head. Focus on you for a while. Go to the gym for 30 minutes and smash out a quick resistance or conditioning routine. Go for a coffee and clear your emails away from your desk. Put on a meditation app like Headspace and zone out for ten minutes. You might just find the small escape that lets you tackle your problems easier.
3. It gives you all of the endorphins
Exercise brings a serious feel-good factor. There is nothing better than the positive endorphins created by moving your body. When you work out, your body increases the release of serotonin. This is reported more through aerobic activities, for example running and cycling. Have you ever heard the term runners high? This is generally felt due to a spike in serotonin levels. It can also be found during weight training and yoga sessions.
4. It’s a starting point for feeling better
I’m not expecting anyone struggling with their mental health to be able to come down to the gym and train with us tomorrow. Sometimes it’s a win just getting out of bed. But getting moving can be that first positive action towards feeling better.
Start with the simple things, like getting up and going for a wander to the park. Pat a cute dog while you’re at it - animals make us feel great and it’s proven that patting an animal can decrease your heart-rate and anxiety, but that’s a story for another day.
A word of caution though - don’t drag people to do exercise if they don’t want to yet. Let them make the decision. Once they slowly get started it’s a snowball effect and they’ll slowly do more and more overtime.
One foot in front of the other day by day makes a huge difference.
5. It puts you in a better headspace to help others
If you take care of your mental and physical health, you are in a better position to help others. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Create awareness and become a sounding board for others .
Since having this conversion with so many others so many times over the last few months, I’ve realised how easy it is to talk about mental health.
So many people have come to me, shared their experiences and talked about the ways they have overcome their own adversity.
Be a person others feel safe sharing their stories with. Be the friend who goes for a walk and chats about the things they are feeling, or just listen to someone else.
Join us in raising awareness for mental health
We’ve been spreading awareness at Recreate Personal Training for a while now, and our Bootcamps for Mental Health with Benny's Barber Shop have been a huge success and raised some serious funds!
We're now Spreading the Sparkle with Move it Mumma to raise awareness for post-natal depression. Join us on Saturday 13 October, 10.30am at Rauora Park.
If you need further support in this area, I’m lucky enough to have met some great people in my job and have connections with people who can help. I’m always here for a yarn, so if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out.
I’m not saying I’m a professional on this, I’m only sharing my experiences. But I do think the more we talk about these taboo subjects and try and break the stigma, the more people will reach out for help and talk to the right people who can help them on their journey.
- Reece #itsnotweaktospeak