Physical Activity for Mental Health

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

I’ve been promising this post for a while and I’ve taken my sweet time writing it. Why? Its actually a subject really close to my heart (well technically health!)

Its no secret that I suffer with Mental Health issues and whilst I may appear “brave” to admit it openly, don’t forget I am an anonymous FI blogger so I wouldn’t say I was that brave. In fact in some ways my mental health is why I don’t post my real name on here. Whilst people say they are understanding, I really do believe unless you have lived with it or lived with someone with it, then its really hard to understand exactly what it is.

I had a taste of this first hand after I gave birth to my daughter. Everyone told me I was bound to suffer from Postnatal Depression given my mental health background. I wasn’t the slightest bit worried as I am well versed in all the inner demons, I wasn’t at all prepared for the horrifying experience I suffered through alone.

I don’t take a lot of tablets for my mental health anymore as I’m lucky that I have Mr Fire. We tend to talk through things if they are dragging me back. I also use exercise as a way of “lifting” my mood and giving me clarity. I have always wondered if it was just me that got the “exercise high” and so I thought I’d do some research and share it in a post.

Ever feel that exercise high after a really hard workout session? That was my first indication that exercise was actually doing something positive for my mental health. I have taken some strange medication combinations during my partnership with mental health problems but none of them have ever made me feel as uplifted as when working out.

I have always viewed physical activity as something I had to do opposed to wanting to do it for the sake of my health. I used to be really concerned with being skinny as I was obsessed with fashion (Couture if anyone is interested) and in order to fit into those sample dresses you have to be thinner than a skeleton. My way of burning the fat was the use cardio to blast away the calories I had eaten that day and then take an extra 500 calories off to make sure I lost the weight. Not very health huh.

What made me really think about fitness differently was a visit to a CBT session. I was told that cardio (more specifically running not he spot) could help a panic attack from beginning. That sparked a bit of an obsession with fitness, well being and mental health.

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What is well being?

The government in the UK define it as “a positive physical, social and mental state”. I am focusing more on mental health as its an area I have much more experience in!

What are the positive effects of physical activity?

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How much should I be doing?

I have a post all about the perfect workout routine. I personally find when suffering with mental health difficulties its best just to start and don’t get hung up on the details. Do what you enjoy, do it when you want and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Its hard enough when your feeling exhausted, low, overwhelmed and hopeless.

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If anyone wishes to talk to me about mental health (I’m not an expert at all) please do get in touch.

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14 thoughts on “Physical Activity for Mental Health

  1. Exercise really helps. The only thing that kept me sane during my last year at work was working out regularly and doing yoga. Sorry to hear about depression. I had that for a while and it was tough. Hope it’s under control now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joe,
      Thanks for stopping by and your comment. WOW that sounds great that it helped you get through your last year at work. I struggled alot in my last job and found the only way to actually “make” myself go in was to do some cardio first. It got so bad though I ended up having to jog in the bathroom every hour. Mentally now it helps not having to go to the day job but I guess I still struggle. I hope your depression isnt giving you any problems now.

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  2. tuppennysfireplace

    Totally agree with you. Working out physically really helps my daughter with her mental health. She now knows like you that keeping her mental health in check can be done through physical means.
    Problem is when you get into a fug/down day it’s really difficult to motivate yourself to get to the gym in order to then feel better. Luckily she’s on a very physical degree course and surrounded by a peer group of fitness fanatics so easier to keep strong whilst at uni.
    I know when she is doing well it does have a positive impact on every aspect of her life, she eats better, interacts more and general does more. Do you find this as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW your daughter really rocks! Thanks for sharing this. I completely understand about the down days. I can barely breathe yet alone workout. Mr Fire is very helpful in motivating me when I struggle but other times I just have to take the day away and wait till the darkness ends. I am really thinking about what food I’m putting in my body and I’ve noticed when I want to eat something sweet, now I reach for the fruit opposed to the biscuits! The course your daughter is doing at Uni sounds like a perfect place for those of us with mental Health struggles. Is she enjoying it?

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      1. tuppennysfireplace

        She loves her course and the place she is at, so very supportive of all of them. She has recently gone vegan, having been vegetarian for 8 months and has found this way of eating also helpful as ends up worrying less about her weight than before.

        It’s great Mr Fire can motivate you, as it’s so important to keep the dark days to a minimum. Have you tried mindfulness? I’ve done a course in this through Mind and daughter has this and meditation built into her course. It seems to help shut your mind up, if only for a few minutes. Guided imagery/mediation is especially good.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. WOW that does sounds really good. She certainly has a good support system as this course which I always think is the main way to climb out the darkness. No I haven’t tried mindfulness actually. Was the course free? It sounds like something I would be interested in!

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      3. tuppennysfireplace

        Yes, course was free. Not sure if offer available nationwide as each local mind is independent charity but you can self refer to them. Maybe check out your local Mind organisation? They also have short workshops, some peer support groups (mine has a Mindfulness group and a walking group plus a couple of others).

        The course I attended was 1hr pw for 6wks in a location community centre. We mainly practiced the different mindfulness styles including ‘grounding’, breathing exercises and guided imagery.

        By the end of the 6 weeks it was obvious from our conversations that other participants (with depression/anxiety) had found it helpful and all were keen to continue in the peer support group.

        There are also loads of YouTube videos on Mindfulness and apps you can download (choose the free ones!). As well as books in the library.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. wow thanks for that. I’ll check it out. We live in the middle of nowhere so I’ll be hard pushed to find a mind centre but the library option sounds pretty good. I will check online too for some courses. thanks again for your suggestions!

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  3. Pingback: Monthly Catch up March to April 2018 – Little Miss Fire

  4. You probably won’t be surprised to find out that exercise can be as effective as medication or therapy for mild to moderate depression, and is a useful addition to therapy/medication for mood, anxiety and some psychotic conditions. It has even made the NICE guidelines, which is a government level recommendation. Agree 100% with what you said about not getting hung up on details – enjoying it and being interested in continuing is far more important than the particular type.

    Liked by 1 person

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