Exercise has been an often-neglected source of intervention in the treatment of mental healthcare, in spite of this lifestyle modification having proved cost-effective in improving health and quality of life of individuals suffering from serious mental ailments.
Most people are not aware that their minds and bodies are interlinked. All the actions of the body are directly carried out as a result of the commands given by the brain and make the body act as it does. Therefore, to maintain a healthy mind it is essential to have an equally fit body and vice versa.
If a body is physically fit and healthy it increases the proportion of the “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins, which are then released by the brain to make a person feel good and positive. In other words, a healthy body leads to a healthier mind.
Mental Health of Elite Athletes
Sports icons have recently opened up as to how therapy has become a game-changer in staying competitive and strong. The intense pressure to perform and the additional responsibilities that come with it can exacerbate some known stressors that can lead to a new one or worsen any pre-existing health condition.
Additionally, professional athletes need to balance the expectations of a good performance in the field as well as commitments made to a workplace, or even at home.
Female athletes have to cope with even more challenges, like self-esteem, body presentation and perfectionism issues. Noted gymnast Simone Biles has recently opened up about her courage to seek professional help, and even a break from competition if needed. She even went as far as partnering with a therapy app called Cerebral.
“Just to know that (these resources) are on hand if you need them is awesome, especially for the younger kids growing up in sports who can reach out and get help if they need it to better competitors and better athletes,” said gymnast Simone Biles, who works with her personal therapist, in a recent issue of TIME magazine.
In the same issue, Nicole Ross, a female fencer who competed in the Tokyo Olympics and is now a representative of a US mental health task source said, “It’s a work in progress and we could certainly do things better to improve mental health services, but things are moving in the right direction in terms of supporting athletes with regard to their well-being and mental health.”
Experts who worked with athletes on mental health care had started to notice this shift towards the growing acceptance of therapy, much before Simone’s news broke out at the Tokyo Olympics. With other prominent athletes like Micheal Phelps and Sam Mikulak sharing their struggles about their mental health issues, the taboo is now gradually being eroded.
Thus, as more and more athletes speak out, it encourages others to seek help to normalize mental health issues. While the exact percentage of mental health concerns in US athletes at the pinnacle of their careers is not known, given the rate of incidents in the general public and added pressures which arose from the pandemic, it is assumed that a majority of players are using mental health support.
Adding Self-Care To Your Daily Routine
Many factors play a role in an individual’s mental health but this can be due to some factors such as family history and genetics which are out of one’s control. One thing you do have the power to do is influence your mental health as it will determine how you will handle stress and make choices.
From childhood to adolescence and further to adulthood, routines are essential at every stage of life. By establishing one, a person can set aside time for tasks and focus on the aspects of mental peace and physical health as well. After all, self-care means doing any activity or routine to feel good and content emotionally, mentally and physically.
Here are some tips to get you started with self-care:
- Do regular exercise. A mere thirty minutes of walking each day can improve health and boost the mood.
- Make sleep a priority. Get enough sleep and stick to a schedule. Reduce light exposure from a phone or computer before bedtime.
- Stay connected. Reach out to friends and family members when you are in need of help and emotional support.
- Download an app. With the help of an online therapy app, you can quickly design a mental fitness plan that is suitable to your healthcare plan. There are over 30 therapy sites offering services in the U.S alone, and many more worldwide.
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