Mental Health Awareness Week is in May each year and here at WHEY AHEAD® HQ we think your mental health is as important as your physical health.
There was a great documentary called 'Mind Over Marathon' on BBC1 about a group of people with Mental Health issues coming together to run? It was an inspiring watch. This programme brought people suffering from various conditions from depression, grief, obsessive compulsive disorder to anxiety together to run.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to the state of the mind. It's complicated and we all experience life in different ways. The programme touched on a number of topics but something we took from it was that most people actually do experience (to some extent) mental health problems at some point in their lives.
According to Mind.org, 1 in 4 adults experience mental health problems each year*. The key is to make the discussions around mental health open and honest and less taboo/off limits chat. We embrace that. The more we talk about the issues, the better. Part of therapeutic process is being about to speak up and not feel embarrassed to talk about feelings or emotions, and certainly not to worry about inconveniencing others with your problems. A problem shared is a problem halved :)
Now back to the running. These people were coached on how to run (specifically techniques including form and breathing) and also accompanying nutrition to support their fitness regime. At the end of the programme the group's goal was to complete the London Marathon! Amazing huh? To go from (in some cases) non-runner to fully fledged marathon runner is no easy feat. The journey was a powerful one, that's for sure.
The idea behind this was that physical exercise can be used as a tool, a coping mechanism for mental health problems. When you work out, endorphins (happy hormones) are released which in turn makes you feel better about life. Exercise of course also makes you feel physically better when you experience improvements in overall fitness (and perhaps health & wellbeing). It's a win win.
The other aspect is community and goal setting. Coming together in a running club or at a class can give you a real sense of taking part and camaraderie. You simply cannot buy the feeling of working as a team to accomplish something. That's what we love about the hashtag: #fitfam which stands for fit family. We love being part of a wider community of people making positive decisions and choices about their life in an attempt to improve themselves.
As for goals, it's important to set yourself some. If not, the risk is that exercise becomes meaningless and you end up slacking. With defined goals about where you want to be by when, really help the mind focus. Not to mention the sense of achievement you feel when you reach (and hopefully smash) your targets.
We've always been big advocates that the body and mind are intrinsically linked. We should view them as one. Improving your health & fitness can help the mind and the mind is the thing which we also need to stretch and exercise in order for it to perform and stay sharp. A happy mind is also a motivated one. That get up and go feeling you might have experienced when you feel anything is possible. It's a cyclical relationship which often gets underestimated.
Mindfulness is a worthwhile mind exercise. We are big fans of getting some headspace, literally. There is an app called 'Headspace' which gives you 10 minutes of mental relaxation and freedom from the busy world we live in. Everyone could do with pausing and reflecting from time-to-time. Practices like yoga too are great ways to stay active yet consciously take the time to balance your body and mind and gain control back. Yoga is a great example of body and mind working together.
The runners ended up achieving their goals and some really moving moments prevailed. When they crossed the line and thought of what they can achieved, a few tears were shed. All of the group commented that they felt better proving that exercise can really do the trick. The runners ran for a new charity created by The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry called 'Heads Together'. What great sentiment that is. With our heads together, it's incredible to think what could be achieved. No one should feel alone when it comes to these things.
" good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem".
This is a great way of putting things. You don't have to have a diagnosed mental health problem to experience certain issues. We need to promote better mental health and ask the question whether we are surviving or thriving? We hope that everyone thrives. Happy thriving organic #fitfam:) Read more from our fitness blog.