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Proper Fitness Is Mental Health


MENTAL HEALTH IS one of the most under-appreciated and overlooked aspects of achieving proper fitness. Just as you won’t see natural progression if you don’t eat right, you’ll never achieve true wellness if your mental health is compromised.

Times are changing, but our society still has a stigma attached to mental health issues. Those dealing with depression, anxiety, and other issues—in many cases, the result of modern life’s stresses and strains—often feel like they can’t come forward and talk openly.

Addressing these issues is essential for a healthy and fulfilling life, however. From a physical standpoint, you can never reach your true potential, strength-wise and endurance-wise, if you don’t address your mental health.

It is now clear that one’s mental and physical health are linked. A little bit of stress, for example, is okay — there’s nothing wrong with a bit of adrenaline or nervous energy given the right circumstances — but too much stress can lead to illness.

For your physical health, taking a mindful approach to stressful situations is essential. It’s a long, complicated process of trial and error, but it’s necessary to learn how to react to conditions in a way that ends up stuck in a cycle of negative thought patterns, anger and depression.

Part of this process involves understanding that there are situations you have no control over. For example, you can’t change certain people: you can’t change the way they think; you can’t change the way they act. All you have control over is the way you think and the way you work.

Don’t get sucked into other people’s negativity. Deal with situations compassionately and sensibly — be a good person — but understand there is only so much you can do.

Learn to love yourself and to respect yourself. It’s an essential step on the road to good emotional health. You can never truly love others and treat them with the dignity they deserve until you can treat yourself with that love and pride. Think of the angry people you’ve interacted with in your life — that anger often comes from fear and self-loathing.

While it’s important to acknowledge the wrongs to us — to talk them over and to heal from them — it’s also important to, over time, not let those wrongs hold us down and dominate our thoughts.

It’s essential to let go. When you stew over past injustices, you cede the power to heal; you take the ability to recover out of your own hands and leave it in the hands of those who have done you wrong.

Free your mind, and the rest will follow. It’s a catchy, light-hearted mantra, but one that sums up the link between mental and physical health. It’s just a starting point, however.

Developing robust emotional health — speaking to family, friends and professionals about your problems and responding to events healthily — may require a long, arduous journey. But it’s a journey you must undertake to achieve proper fitness. The destination is a rewarding one.

My training methodology is more akin to a therapy session because sometimes they are conversational, where physical exercise is not required.

It’s about addressing their mental health as part of a comprehensive strategy to help them achieve better long-term outcomes and effectively improve long-term effects.

Wayne Lèal