I recently read an article about the rapper Eminem and his personal struggles and how he dealt with his depression. The rapper was addicted to sleeping and pain pills and was in personal turmoil but he found solace in working out. He lifted weights and ran to cope with his personal pain and finally was able to deal with his depression and other personal issues.
This article got me thinking…a lot. With so many people suffering in this world, can and how can fitness be used as a vehicle to to improve our mental health? The obvious answer is yes but I also have to be honest with myself, as I know this all too well.
Time to get real… For whatever reason, whether it be hereditary or my brain doesn’t work correctly or its just part of my personality, I have dealt with depression since I was 20. I have a tendency to have more lows than highs and I have to put maximal effort into changing some thoughts that come along.
I have mild depression. I am like a lot of people. I write this not so you feel sorry for me (last thing I want) or that you look at me any different. I make the best with what I have, I am not a hero by any means. I just deal with the hand I am dealt. But depression is real and the one thing I have always found comfort in is working out. It helps tremendously on my psyche and my self esteem. Its my medicine and my temple.
By nature, I am a problem solver. I love helping people improve themselves and their situations. Helping people overcome what goes on in their mind/brain is something I find gratifying. Conquering depression, whether mild or severe is a war but it is a war that can be won, especially with fitness. I have worked with many people who have overcome their battles with depression and come out on the other side a better and stronger person. Most, if not all, would attribute their success to fitness. And so would I. Here are the stats: 14.8 million American adults suffer from some type of depression 6.7% of the U.S. population The average onset of depression is 32 years old. Women are more prone that men to have major depression I would be willing to bet these statistics will continue to climb as years go by.
This is a major problem but with a great solution…working out.
Here is how:
- Stress Relief Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. The tension of the world around us, the amount of social pressure we feel can often send us into a state of depression. We shut off the world. But nothing will help more than a great workout. The increase in serotonin production (feel good hormone) can make our body’s and mind’s feel better, reducing stress and relaxing the body. There is nothing better than pumping some iron when you feel down!
- Self Esteem The social pressures of today are unfathomable. The amount of pressure we put on ourselves to look a certain way or be a certain way, have a certain job or be a certain place in life is ridiculous. That pressure is waring out bodies out and causing us to become depressed. The comparing yourself to others is only killing your mind and body, so stop doing that. By increasing your fitness you are altering your body’s composition and being a better version of yourself. Feel better about you!
- Coping Life can suck, I wrote about it last blog. Sometimes it feels like the sky has opened up and dumped everything and anything on you. Murphy’s law can happen at any time. Tragedies happen everyday. Fitness can help you cope with your emotional pain and drive you to become better. I hope you can appreciate the honesty here. There are many people who have these issues and problems, whether mild or major, temporary or permanent.
In closing remember these two things: 1. Tough times pass but tough people are here to stay 2. Your current situation is not your final destination