Mental Health Foundation | Mental Health Week
Lawrence Price – Physical Company Master Trainer and Brand Ambassador
In recent years, when asked why I train so consistently and what my motivation is behind this, my usual answer has been that I train for mental clarity and the ‘feel good factor’. This answer is very different to what I would have said 15 years ago when I would have referred to sports performance or aesthetics goals. My focus has clearly shifted towards the mental benefits of physical activity and away from the physical... but for the mental benefit, the physical has to occur first.
This shift in ‘my why’ recently got me thinking about the overlap between physical and mental wellbeing. Where does one stop and the other begin? Or are they simply integrally linked?
A number of years ago, I was going through a tricky time mentally. The effects of certain life events brought about a negative mental state which came as a complete shock to me. I felt down and anxious about life. As I’m normally a playful and light-hearted person, I remember feeling surprise that these new emotions could play such a big role in shaping my day-to-day life... and last for weeks on end at that!
After some soul searching, I took it upon myself to ‘self-manage’ the situation and I set about educating myself on the mind; how it works alongside our deeper consciousness and our ego. I remember listening to podcast after podcast on the topic and my Kindle quickly got filled up with books ranging from Buddhist teachings to modern essays on ‘self-management’ itself. I learnt that the mind can, quite literally, have a mind of its own...
Our thoughts can potentially be either ignored or created depending upon the desire of the deeper self. The inner consciousness and connection to one’s soul is a far better indicator of who we really are and my inner self was asking to be allowed to fly freely and to not be held captive by the constraints of the mind.
The mind was simply reacting to life events, facing fight or flight, and going into lock down mode - an evolutionary reactionary survival mechanism once the trigger had been pulled.
Once I understood this, I was able to set about designing a life with the day-to-day habits and routines that would allow the inner ‘me’ to resurface and enjoy life to the full again.
I started a daily meditation routine (to calm and practice mindfulness). I improved my diet to allow my health to flourish by nourishing myself from the inside out (it is estimated that 90% of serotonin – the bodies ‘happy chemical’ - is made in the digestive tract) and I sought out wholesome activities instead of boozy nights out and finally, I committed to a training routine to focus on my fitness and health.
I quickly learnt that the things which brought about my deepest contentment and happiness were often the small subtle day-to-day details.
Focusing on my breathing in the morning, getting enough sleep, eating more wholesome, nourishing foods, practicing gratitude, staying hydrated and training regularly all played a key part. These things may not sound glamorous in the short term but over time they became the key pillars for my mental wellbeing.
I then consciously avoided things that gave a ‘short-term’ buzz, but not a lasting long-term benefit, such as high sugar foods and alcohol. These things can be tempting in the short term, but ultimately, they don’t enhance happiness and life fulfilment. In fact, over time they can have quite the opposite effect.
I then found that taking time to learn enough about myself to implement suitable habits which improved my own state of wellbeing is not an easy process. You have to REALLY want to do it. There has to be a deep desire for change.
For me, fitness and training has provided the bedrock for this balance. Without it I would struggle to be the best version of myself. I wouldn’t understand myself as well as I do. One can learn a lot about oneself through the discipline of training and putting in the work consistently. The very act of seeking out obstacles so that you can overcome them is a wonderful metaphor for life and ultimately, leads to the discovery that improvement can be made week on week, that there is an exciting journey ahead to be enjoyed. Whether in training or in life...
Mental Health Foundation | Mental Health Week
Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time. We believe that mental health is everyone’s business.
Last year we found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age and directly impact our mental health.
However there is still a lack of much-needed research and understanding around this.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week:
- We will be publishing the results of a UK-wide survey on body image and mental health.
- We will look at body image issues across a lifetime – including how it affects children and young people, adults and people in later life.
- We will also highlight how people can experience body image issues differently, including people of different ages, genders, ethnicities and sexualities.
- We will use our research to continue campaigning for positive change and publish practical tools to help improve the nations relationship with their bodies.
For more information, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/