Getting Back in Shape- Beyond the Physical

When you we think about getting back in shape, our minds typically tend to visualize dumbbells, dieting, and drinking tons of water from jogging in the morning for the first time in what? Five years? Tough stuff.

For years, I’ve been doing my fair share of all of that. I was a “graduate” of Insanity and my typical routine at the park consisted of running a crazy amount of miles before doing a crazy amount of push ups, pull ups and jumping squats before “cooling off” with several more miles of running around in literal circles. It was great and I was in the best shape of my life. But at the time, I didn’t realize that my mental and emotional well-being had an enormous impact on my physical health. In fact, I didn’t realize that at all until after enduring through a pretty bad relationship. Don’t worry, I’m not going to harp on about that again. I am, however, going to share with you some pretty interesting articles I came across regarding the link that connects our physical, emotional, and mental well-being together.

While this article on news-media.net doesn’t go into the exact details of a fairly recent study, it does give a bit of context on just how our different states of being are connected.

“The interplay between our physical and mental health has long been suspected,” Yoon said. “When I have back pain, I feel stressed. And if it impacts my ability to work, or to do my usual activities, then I can feel upset or even a bit depressed. But no large scale studies existed that showed the statistical proof of this correlation.”

Here, Yoon offers an example related to how our physical well being can affect our emotional. But what about the other way around? According to familydoctor.org, physical aliments can be indicative of emotional duress. Ulcers and high blood pressure can be brought on by stressful events in one’s life and poor emotional health can actually weaken the body’s immune system. And this is without even taking into account how feeling depressed or upset can leave you less motivated to take better physical care of yourself. But if that’s not enough to demonstrate how important our mental and emotional well-being is to our health, just take a look at how “health” is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO):

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.- WHO

Unfortunately, our emotional and mental health isn’t typically taken into account when we’re trying to “get in shape.” For me personally, my neglect of my mental and emotional well-being actually turned out to be the two biggest reasons why instead of getting healthier, I was getting sicker and more out of shape despite dieting and exercise. It wasn’t until I made changes to improve my emotional and mental states that I finally began making real progress regarding my physical health.

So what are the steps that we can take when we really want to “get in shape” in every sense of the phrase? I won’t cover any physical routines, but here are a few steps you can take to become mentally and emotionally healthier. These are steps that I’ve also personally been trying to implement as well.

  • Volunteering- Maybe it’s an animal shelter, maybe a homeless shelter. Regardless, volunteering your time and energy to a cause or organization you believe in can leave you feeling satisfied and accomplished. There are always ways to volunteer your abilities for the benefit of others, and it can range from working with others on a clean up project to just helping an elderly individual pack their groceries away in their car.
  • Associate with positive people- First hand, I can tell you that doing the opposite of this can be the most detrimental to your well-being. Constantly associating with those who only see the negative side of a situation, those who are judgmental and cynical, will result in you acting the same way. As the saying goes, misery loves company. So be sure to hang around those who are the exact opposite. Lately, I’ve been associating with friends and family who are especially positive, and the results they’re association has had on me is extremely noticeable.
  • Just relax- For some, this will probably be the hardest thing to do, especially where I live (it’s number seven on the most stressed cities in the United States). No matter what day it is, no matter what you have planned, find the time to relax a little. Even thirty minutes helps to reset and refresh your mind, preventing you from feeling mentally overloaded or drained. Listen to music, read a book, or do nothing at all! Just sit there and meditate.
  • Make a budget- One of the hardest things in this age of online transactions and student debts is learning how to manage and track your money. No wonder money is also the aspect of our lives that typically cause the most stress. Thankfully, there are also tools and resources we can use to help us get on track with both how we spend and how we save. The blog over at nerdwallet.com has information on a number of apps that can help keep track of just that. Another tip that seems to work for others is by simply using cash and not cards.

These are just a few tips we can all put into affect to help us be happier and healthier mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically. This is just a suggestion, but if implementing these tips into your life seems like too daunting a task, try picking and focusing on one and doing it for a week or month before adding on another. I’m sure you will experience a noticeable improvement in your overall well-being.

Till next time then and be sure to keep smiling.

🙂

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