Yes You! When was the last time you checked in with yourself? And I mean really checked in? 2020 has been an eventful year. The Covid pandemic alone has had an effect on everyone's life in one way or another. Whether it be job furloughs, virtual schooling, social distancing. Not to mention the social issues screaming for our attention. It can be hard to unplug and unwind when the world is in a state of chaos. Some of us are suffering in silence and trying to remain "strong" black women. We tend to overlook and suppress our emotional needs and that is a problem. Being physically fit is great, but your mental health is equally important. In fact, poor mental health can directly affect your physical well-being.
What Is Mental Health?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Mental Health is a combination of our social, emotional, and psychological well being. How we think, act and feel is affected by our mental health.
I wanted to provide more information from business professionals who are knowledgeable in mental health and its importance to your overall well-being. So let's pick their brains and see what they have to say. Feel free to reach out to them if you are in need of their services. Don't try to handle it on your own. Take it from someone who struggles with anxiety and depression; It's okay to ask for help.
Our Professional Sources:
Kyrsten Sprewell, MSW
*Referred to as KS in article
Credentials: Master Social Worker
Keshara Rosser ; Avery Rosser
*Referred to as WCC in article
Credentials: LMSW ; LPC
Facebook: We Climb Counseling & Consulting, LLC
Can your mental health affect your fitness journey?
KS- Absolutely, our mind, body, and spirit are all connected. I talk a lot about using fitness and whole wellness along with counseling and therapy treatments. Fitness is an amazing coping skill that can be used to address everyday stress and symptoms of anxiety. When we work out endorphins are released that help us feel happy which can make us want to keep working out and, in turn, we reach our fitness goals. There is another end of that spectrum where we can become fixated on attaining certain fitness goals and it can cause a person to assess their value based on weight loss or gain, body definition, and their overall aesthetic. We want to use fitness as a tool for enhancement rather than letting it be the way we determine our happiness.
WCC- Absolutely! Mental health and fitness have a direct correlation. Exercise is known to have a great impact on improving mental health to promote better sleep habits, self-
esteem, energy levels, less tension and stress, and just a better overall well-being.
Exercising promotes changes within the brain, causing it to release chemicals called
endorphins. Endorphins are a group of hormones that trigger a euphoric feeling within the body to relieve stress and pain. Exercising can also be provided as a healthy distraction for things that may be causing high levels of stress within one’s life, thus minimizing unhealthy thinking patterns and promoting healthy coping mechanisms. On the other end of the spectrum, an individual who has existing mental health conditions may have difficulty with feelings of exhaustion, hopelessness, being overwhelmed and unmotivated; causing them to struggle within their fitness journey. These individuals have a difficult time holding themselves accountable in pushing themselves to achieve their fitness goals.
What ways can someone assess their mental health? Are there clear signs of concern to watch out for?
KS- Check in with yourself daily or weekly, asking yourself and reflecting on; how you feel, how are your relationships going, what things you’re engaging in that create emotional baggage for you, and what things you need to let go of. If you have severe sadness that you can’t shake off or overwhelming anxiety that is affecting your daily schedule or interactions those are two things that immediately concern me. Of course, any thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or others are high risk concerns that we should be aware of and address with urgency.
WCC- One can assess their mental health by recognizing changes in their behavior. Some of
the common signs to look out for are: social withdrawal, loss of interest in
hobbies/activities, changes in sleep/eating patterns, and changes within their mood.
If someone feels that their mental health is declining, what should they do?
KS- If someone feels that their mental health is declining they first want to talk to a love one who they can trust about how they have been feeling. Having a healthy natural support system (people who you don’t pay) around you is one of the best remedies for getting in an ‘emotional rut’. The next thing I would say is to pair that with talking to a professional, someone who has no emotional connection to you or your problems but has the skill set to counsel you. Therapy is still so underrated in our community & I believe that it can help us with managing all aspects of our wellness.
WCC- If you notice your mental health deteriorating, there are a few ways that you can
receive the support that you need. You can reach out to family and friends for
emotional support, talk to your primary care physician, and/or contact a
psychotherapist to receive individual counseling/therapy. Mental illness is a common
taboo topic within many communities. You should push yourself past that stigma and
ensure that you are receiving the help that you need. There is no need to feel ashamed
of your thoughts and feelings.
With your knowledge how important is your mental health?
KS- Mental health is very important to our overall daily functioning and the way we interact with others. We know the power of the mind when we talk about aspiring to achieve our career goals, fitness goals, or manifesting whatever it may be that we want. Do we realize the power of the mind when we are discussing emotional baggage from childhood, or a trauma that we recently experienced? I don’t know if we always consider that our behaviors, relationships, and quality of life is heavily impacted by our mental and emotional wellness.
WCC- Your mental health is just as important, if not more important than your physical health.
Your mental wellness plays a major role in your ability to maintain your physical
wellness, they go hand in hand. Your mental health serves as a vehicle of your body to
get to point A to point B. Just as your car, it is important to receive regular maintenance
checks, you must do the same with your mind. One should practice self-care to ensure
that you are meeting your own personal needs and not wearing yourself too thin within
your normal daily regimen. You will better be able to pour out to others if you have first
poured into yourself.