Mental health is a pop culture buzzword that like many things has been hijacked by social media, turning the subject into a marketing tactic. Social media is great at exposing us to new ideas but rarely is it the place to extrapolate those ideas.
Fitness professionals have jumped onto this train because of the positive cognitive benefits shown through exercise but we are seriously lacking the understanding of what is needed to improve the mental health for those in NEED. Truthfully, if we are having to do something everyday for our mental health, then we are likely not IMPROVING our mental health very much. Rather applying a band-aid, unintentionally (or intentionally) to avoid the SOURCE of these feelings.
Truly making advancements on your mental health means you are assimilating your realizations and applying lessons effectively to your every day life so that way you need less and less interventions to keep you stable. Our mental health struggles are deeply rooted and if going to the gym “fixed” us, then we were likely not very broken in the first place. If that were the case its more likely we simply lacked proper application. The two are NOT the same.
The workouts, the cold plunges, the psychedelic adventures, self love/acceptance, it’s all SO HOT RIGHT NOW. Yes, there are more and more incredible tools to gather INSIGHTS of our mental health but they are not the SOLUTION that they are touted to be. If anything they can provide more DISTRACTIONS from the work itself.
It’s understandable though, the release of endorphins, quelling of anxieties, improving confidence in self image/abilities, and improving cognitive function, it’s all very real and very beneficial. It’s also very attractive being sold this way and I encourage people regularly to work on improving in these areas where we can.
WE JUST NEED TO SEE THAT THE GYM, OR OTHER OUTLETS, ARE AIDS; NOT ANSWERS.
We MUST make it clear that although stress, anxiety, poor self image, inability to pay attention, etc. can be indicators of mental challenges, they are not qualified “symptoms” for diagnosing (ourselves) with a REAL mental health disorder.
Everyone has anxieties and insecurities, it doesn’t make us candidates for a mental health crisis.
They are natural aspects of life itself. People with real mental health issues cannot connect the dots to their psychological and physiological selves. This is NOT solved by a workout.
Additionally, NEEDING a workout, or needing ANY outlet, does not express a healthy mindset towards our health, or working out for that matter. People will casually express this often in regards to the gym. This feeling of NEED should more so be a trigger to ASK MORE QUESTIONS. Because if you were left without the gym, what would you do?
Like all things we can simply over do it. I mean when does the gym become obsessive or unhealthy?
For me it’s when we make it the primary focus of our everyday life, or worse, our IDENTITY. Exercise should be a supplement to life, to extend it or improve the quality of, not to be the sole of your existence. Nor should it feel as though the world crumbles beneath us when we don’t have it.
For those who’ve had real mental health struggles or know people who have, workouts are NOT the solution.
PROFESSIONAL HELP IS.
Working out is a great tool for self realization but until you work with a mental health professional it’s not always accurate to claim you are, you need, or you’re fixing anything related to your or someone else’s mental health. It’s not that working out doesn’t provide mental benefits but we are taking it too far pushing it as this mental health cure all. Even if you happen to feel better about yourself.
Working OUT is a good TOOL for your mental health.
Working WITH a mental health professional is a better SOLUTION.