Oh boy it’s been a wild 18 months, hasn’t it?
We’ve all faced some epic challenges in our lives on top of the normal ups and downs we collect during our time on this planet. Woof.
So today I’m going to take a mild departure from our typical fitness-y topics and shed light on something perhaps more important.
Our mental health.
Whether you struggle explicitly with your mental health or implicitly by feeling extra fatigued, grumpy, irritable, or just a bit foggy it’s something that affects us all from time to time.
It affects our health, our happiness, our sleep, our relationships, our habits, our physical fitness, and many other areas of our lives when we’re not on top of managing that inner monologue.
Personally, through much of COVID times, I just tune out. Both in my own head and in my relationships. I just find distraction after distraction (like all the Netflix binging) to avoid doing the hard work of facing the truth. I also get grumpy and anxious…just ask Lindsay.
It hasn’t been the easiest time in my career (owning a brick and mortar fitness facility) and it certainly takes it’s toll. It won’t be perfect for a while however recognizing that very thing helps normalize all the shitty feelings.
Along with my personal and professional community it has helped me recognize that I’m normal AF and I can process those feelings and still be an awesome human.
It also helps me focus on being proactive rather than reactive to my feelings and that has been the game changer. You see, if there’s one thing we can all take away from the past year it’s that we don’t get absolute control over our circumstances. We DO get to choose how we respond.
You get to feel shitty from time to time. You get to feel the feels and just BE YOU in all your glory.
So what does help when you’re ready to be proactive and can muster up the energy to take control?
Here are few things that could be helpful:
1. Check in with yourself on a regular basis.
How you see yourself dramatically impacts the way you perceive what happens to you. It’s essential for most humans to spend some time in self-reflection to better understand where you are now but more importantly allow you to choose how you want to move forward OR carry on doing things the way you have been.
Perhaps it’s through daily journaling or working with a skilled therapist. For some of us, we’re lucky enough to have an empathetic witness or friend who can act as a ‘reflective mirror’ in our lives.
2. Adjust your expectations and set short term goals (and reach them).
One way to greatly improve your mental health is simply to lower the expectations you set for yourself. This can be challenging since our brains always ‘think’ we should be doing more but often times unmet expectations can eat away at mental health.
I’m not saying you have to always aim low, however, in my experience it can be helpful for people to give themselves a break every now and then. I know this can be difficult (especially for all you high achievers) but setting smaller and more achievable goals is an easy way to improve mood, motivation, and confidence.
Nailing achievable goals help you feel a sense of purpose, achieving them will motivate you to keep moving towards your dreams and vision of your future.
3. Plan (at least) 30 minutes of ‘you time’ each day.
People often spend most of their day on autopilot or doing things for others (kids, spouse, family, boss, clients, etc) and this can leave you feeling depleted even when doing things for others gives us purpose.
Whether it’s something that burns energy (exercise, physical activity, etc), relaxes you like (meditation, reading, etc) or fills your social connection bucket it’s very important you’re building something into your routine that is just for you.
I recently picked up mountain biking which puts me in a state of flow as explore and am challenged.
4. Find a fitness home or activity you truly enjoy.
Whether you love to exercise or not I think we can agree that physical activity is something that is incredibly important to our health and longevity. Find something you enjoy or people you enjoy doing it with that doesn’t add stress.
Exercise should fill up your mental and emotional gas tank and while it’s different for every person, doing things that are fun and make you feel better after doing them tend to work best.
If you have the bandwidth and means, I always recommend a good structured strength training program for your health and fitness but during times of stress just doing something active is better than nothing.
5. Lean on others for support. (and let them lean on you)
Some people are lone wolves but they tend to be the .00001% of humans on the planet. For the rest of us, a community or group of humans that support one another is imperative for mental well-being.
Leaning on a community or another human to pick you up is a great way to feel connected and fill in the gaps in your energy. When we have a close attachment with another person or a group, it also causes our brains to experience and perceive stress and pain differently.
Conversely, being helpful and of service to others is another way to greatly boost your mood and improve your mental health.
Note: I’m not a doctor and this is NOT medical advice. While I hope these are helpful tips to help you improve your mental health, if you’re experiencing depression and a persistent feeling of sadness I recommend seeking out clinical support. Know that you’re not alone and the right kind of help can save lives.
Humanity will get back on track. I believe in us!
High Fives x Infinity + 1,
P.S. If you’re looking for all the support on the fitness side of the equation, come check us out! We’re here to help you kick butt! If you’re brand new to First Guess Fitness, come try out 14 days of group personal training for only $49! CLICK HERE to learn more.