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October 29, 2020

Mental Health in 2020

by Paden Hughes

Have you ever put on background music as you’re making dinner or any daily task, and for some reason, out of nowhere… BIG feelings surge through you, and you find yourself sobbing?

I bet that’s NOT what you expected when you opened this email.  

But that’s where we’re going because our country is in the middle of a mental health crisis and you may be part of the 53% of Americans struggling with your mental health. I want to share with you a  story of how you’re not alone.  

Last October, I was 12 weeks postpartum with our second child. I was in my bathrobe, making breakfast and listening to a playlist I had created years ago in Spotify, called “Mellow.” I have listened to that playlist probably hundreds of times. No big feelings. Certainly no tears. 

But that day, I just started crying. And it was overwhelming. It transitioned from silent rolling tears to ugly crying right there in the  kitchen. I was wiping my eyes and trying to hide them from my daughter because if she asked me what was wrong, I wouldn’t know how to answer her.  

What I know now, is that I was knee deep in postpartum depression. I was  sleep deprived, stressed in my new role as a mom of two, trying to keep  one business going while spending 8pm-midnight every night working with  Michael to build and launch an online training course. It was so far over my head and just felt it reach this breaking point. 

This is just ONE of the ways mental health struggles can show up in our lives. It may be for a season, a reason or it may be something more chronic. But it makes each day that much harder to move through and it’s a fight to find joy and happiness.  

I recently read in the Kaiser Family Foundation that 53% of adults in the US reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, a significantly higher number than the 32% of adults who said they struggled with their mental health in March 2020. In fact, Mental Health America just released their research in observing the impact of mental health on the United States from March through September 2020 and they refer to it as a “growing mental health crisis.”  

So why do we need this information? What is more depressing than hearing about how depressed everybody can be? What’s powerful about mental health is the connection to the mind and body. And since you’re reading this, you are somebody who has historically put money and time behind your desire to improve yourself physically. What I want to share with you today is the deep connection between the body and the mind because I feel compelled to share this secret with you…

Fitness is proven to improve mental health conditions.

In fact, the American Psychological Association found that exercise is proven to help improve mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and even overall mood.

“There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,” says James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist  at Duke University.

When I finally pegged my kitchen breakdown as postpartum depression, I sat down and wrote a list of everything that I do to feel like myself, all the things that bring me joy, help me get away from the pressures around me and just allow me to reconnect with myself. And then I made sure to do at least one of those things every day.

It may sound silly but it worked. I had things on my list like…. get dressed, feel sunshine on my face, dance to a throw back song I love, walk on the beach and of course…. WORKOUT. All of these are acts of self-love and health. It made the months that followed bearable because I was supporting my mental health.  

I would like to invite you to make your own list.  

Next, if you didn’t add fitness to your list, consider doing so. I’m going to share with you why I feel compelled to talk about fitness in conjunction with mental health.  

American Psychological Association shows that exercise helps alleviate depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.   

  • Exercise helps with long-term depression. Not just short-term depression, but actually much longer than just that the duration of that workout. 
  • Exercise helps with anxiety. A researcher discovered that people with high anxiety sensitivity, who  also reported high activity levels were less likely to panic than subjects who exercise infrequently. The findings of these studies support and show that physical exercise could help ward off panic attacks. 

If you have been experiencing any kind of heightened anxiety, any type of depressed emotions, or if you’re wanting to improve your mood in general, consider adding exercise to your list.  

Ever since I experienced depression firsthand, I’ve wanted to play a larger role in helping people feel like they are back in control of their lives, back in the driver’s seat, and getting to experience the beautiful things in life that make life worth living. It’s great news to me that fitness helps to alleviate these symptoms, and as someone who owns a gym, we have a very practical way to come along side of people and support them through this season or chronic condition.  

That’s the role we want to play. If you are struggling with mental health, we straight up want to help you. We believe with our whole hearts that we have something that can help you. Whether that’s meeting you in your living room or whether that’s providing you with an in-person experience that is safe and conscious of the situation, we’re all in. We are here to come alongside of you.  

If you are part of the 53% of Americans struggling with mental health, I want you to know you’re not alone. You don’t have to struggle in silence and you don’t need to feel ashamed by this. Just giving ourselves grace and showing ourselves kindness when we’re down is so powerful.  

If I could share with you a way forward, it would be to create that list, commit each day to doing something you love that brings you joy, and to prioritize weekly fitness because it is proven to help!  

You  deserve to live a beautiful life. Sometimes giving yourself permission to slow down, to make space for yourself and to put your wellbeing at the top of your priorities is the BEST gift you can give yourself and others. 

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