The 9 Points of Mental Health

Training can create a lot of stress if we let it.  We often get emotional and mental burnout from training, especially if we’re planning our own progress.  Taking a turn towards psychology on this blog, here are some tips for improving our mental health from Complete Mental Health by Dr. John Ingram Walker.

  1. Rid yourself of negative thinking

Remove “should”, “out’ or “Must” from your vocabulary.  Dr. Walker, talks about getting rid of self-limiting beliefs through controlling negative thinking.  There will always be someone who is stronger, bigger, or faster than you.  At the same time there are people who are not as far along their progress as you are.  Accepting these two realities is important for removing negative thinking and focusing on your journey.

This goes back to the Icarus Deception.  There’s a famous Greek myth of how Icarus and his father, Daedalus escaped a fortress via making wings with waxed feathers and flying over the sea that surrounded them.  Icarus flew too close to the sun (something his father warned him) and the wax of his wings melted, causing Icarus to plummet to the sea and to his death.

Most people see this story as being that of knowing your upper limits.  “Don’t dream too big and maintain a realistic mindset!”  However, there is more to this story and it relates to negative thinking in particular.  In fact, the myth goes on to say that Daedalus warned his son to also not fly too low, lest the waves of the ocean slap him with their tidal force.

Don’t think less of yourself and of your abilities.  Be empowered by our own progress and strive for our own growth..  Embrace the process of getting stronger and be grateful of every moment you have to step in and train that ability.  It’s an awesome journey.

  1. Exercise

Vigorously and daily.  Teddy Roosevelt is known for epitomizing the vigorous life.  Do something vigorous.  If you’re interested in this blog, then you’re either a history buff or very athletically minded.  That training session is your vigorous training for the day.  It enables total immersion into your physicality.

Vigorous training has the added benefit of improving character and being able to push through adversity.  There’s something about overcoming physical adversity and physical pain that provides an intimacy to self-confidence and capability.  You feel capable and powerful, ready to do something and make an impact.

  1. Eat right for mental health

The quality of food we eat has an impact on our mentality.  Some of the less-informed members of the if-it-fits-your-macros (IIFYM) crowd feel that eating and hitting your macronutrient targets of fat, carbohydrates, and protein along with a multi-vitamin can be enough for health but that’s far from the case.

Minerals and vitamins from nutritious and wholesome sources provide us with the mechanisms for cognitive awareness.  From a biochemical point of view, yes, it may be that proteins build our infrastructure, fats, help in cell signalling and organ lubrication, and that carbohydrates drive cellular energy production.  However, what is driving the mechanisms that process these crucial nutrients?  Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, all play crucial roles in aiding in the processing of the macronutrients.  Why do you think you feel lethargic when you don’t eat enough quality fruits and vegetables?  Eat holistically and prime your mental health.

  1. Rest

Overwork contributes to a depressed mood.  Ever go on a caffeine spree?  Forget coffee, what about the energy drinks and pre-workout substances that are chalked with hundreds of grams of caffeine?  Caffeine is simply prolonging a sleep debt that you have to eventually pay back.  Why do you think sleep-deprivation is still used today as a means of torture?  Sleep is integral man.

Getting anywhere fro 6-8 hours of quality sleep 80% of the time is very important for your mental health.  Dr. Walker points out that being constantly sleep deprived means becoming consistently irate.  When you’re constantly in a hostile mood what kind of actions and outlook on life do you think that will lead to?

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Dr. Walker goes on to say that we should develop the ability to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes.  “You ain’t on no crusade here!”  You have a purpose, a mission, but does that mean you’re above others?  Are you really the most perfect of perfectness on the perfect path to perfection that is beyond everything and everyone?  Relax a bit and keep everything in moderation.

  1. Stay active

Being active releases endorphins leading to an overall sense of well-being.  This is different from the earlier point on vigorous exercise.  When we say stay active, we mean your overall lifestyle.  You can exercise vigorously for one hour and be sedentary the rest of the day in something called ‘active sedentary.’  This can lead us to ‘brain fog’ as we mentioned in a previous post that Dr. Perry Nickelston describes as killing us.

Increase your NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) by moving around.  Walk or bike for your errands.  Spend quality time with family outdoors or engaging in something physical.  Why not take up another physical hobby like blacksmithing or another trade?   Just don’t sit there and wallow in your thoughts for too long because they can go to a dark place.

  1. Confront problems

Speak up.  Deal with difficulty immediately.  Dr. Walker points out that when we immediately confront our problems we prevent them from festering inside our minds, and leading to negative thinking.

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  1. Do your best

Forget perfectionism.  That’s a hard one to swallow, even as a blog writer, writing this post.  Being good enough is a tough pill to follow.  When it comes to training, finding the perfect percentages to work with and creating the write program for you, is too much of a gamble with time to get into.  You can get paralysis by analysis.

This goes even more so with technique work.  We’ve seen lots of complaints by internet form Nazi’s who complain how football athletes do power cleans with deplorable form.  Well sometimes, you just have to do your best for the function that you’re doing the activity/exercise for.  Remember, fitness is being fit for function and that differs from one person to the next.

  1. Change

Be receptive to new ideas.  Life’s too short.  This is another tough one.  Change is good.  Change is hard.  It’s honestly the driver of breaking a self-limiting mindset and goes back to point number one about overcoming negativity.

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There you have it!

Mental preparation is very important and we should not freak out about our hobbies.  When they start becoming deprivations then it’s time to relax and step back and look forwards.  Are you doing things in a balanced manner?  Are you approaching this hobby of fitness with a constructive mindset or have you shifted to something destructive?