Life has its ups and downs and there are some things that we cannot control. There are times when one’s physical health is not up to par and equally there are times when one may experience poor mental health.
Firstly it is worth exploring our attitude towards those times of mental ill health. There is stigma, misunderstanding and frustration. None of these are helpful and modern gentlemen possess a level of integrity which goes over and above that and any notions of ‘stiff upper lip’. It is this integrity which allows insight and solutions.
Secondly, it may be reassuring to know that there is a simple yet effective treatment which is readily available to all: exercise. It works in four immediate and significant ways:
In the midst of depression, bereavement or anxiety it is useful to have structure to a day or part of a day. With structure comes control and with control comes better mental health. This can be achieved in any number of ways and a common one is to have a set time for exercise and then a set routine. For example, a 7pm jog in the park every Monday or a Saturday lunchtime swim. Those who enjoy the gym will find even more structure following a program of exercises.
A sport such as game of tennis or squash will provide a period of time when thoughts are focused on the activity. This can offer a respite in dark times.
Feel good factor
The body releases chemicals during and after exercise which make us feel good. This is a welcome and undeniable experience when our mood is low.
Taking part in physical activity with others, invites social interaction that is otherwise avoided when feeling down. Humans are social animals and the contact with others helps us to deal with our issues.
As well as providing a solution, exercise can be seen as a preventative strategy. Even if you are in top form, you will protect yourself and add a layer of resilience.
So far, this sounds quite straight-forward (and it is) but the most challenging part is motivation. Why should I? I don’t feel like it? It’s not for me. I’ll start next week.
These are all things that we will say to ourselves but as a gentleman knows we have a responsibility towards our health and there is nothing more important.
So, if there’s one thing that you do to maintain good mood make it exercise.