Do you ever just go through a rut or feel like you're just spinning your wheels with no direction, no forward progress and can't seem to get yourself out of it? I can surely say I have. It can be one of the most frustrating and demotivating times in someone's life. It's difficult to pull yourself up and out of your own shit. That is one of the most mentally strong things we can do, but it can also be mentally exhausting. One of the best ways we can build mental resilience is through exercise. One of the first things I noticed when I first started exercising was the mental benefits. Of course you can take note of the physical benefits... your biceps grow, you get leaner, the number on the scale changes. Are you able to pinpoint the mental benefits? To this day I still say the mental benefits outweigh the physical benefits because of how life changing the mental benefits were for me personally.
There are so many mental benefits exercise can help provide;
- Sharper Memory & Focus
- Higher Self-esteem & Confidence
- Better Sleep
- More Energy
- Stronger Resilience
- Fighting Fatigue & Exhaustion
- Alleviating Anxiety & Depression
The list could go on and on but one thing I truly love is that exercise and its benefits are personal to the individual. You may find similar benefits to the ones I have or find your very own that will provide help or even change your life. I want to highlight three of the main mental benefits that were life changing for me personally and how I built upon them.
This was one of the first things I noticed and was able to build upon. Confidence and Self-esteem was something I had to work on every single day. This was at a point in my life when I was feeling a lot of stress from school, work, meeting new friends, relationship, career... felt like a lot was riding on my back. The more consistent I was with my routine, the less stress I felt and the more endorphins rushed through me after every session. Staying consistent and hitting goals gave me a sense of accomplishment. I began to keep a log book and wrote down my goals in the gym. Once I would hit those goals I would set the bar higher and continue the climb. I was building a mental resilience and a confidence that would turn over in my everyday life. At the time I just thought I was lifting heavy things up and putting them down...it was so much more than that. I use that same approach to this day whenever I'm faced with something that sends me into a stressed state. I start small, I write it down, I chip away until that goal is accomplished and I'm on to the next. Small accomplishments are still accomplishments meant to be proud of. Celebrate those wins, be proud of yourself and watch as positive thoughts flow through you. Start with you, always make yourself the priority and build upon your own self confidence. Watch the bricks you lay, build your life goals.
- Focus & Concentration
Personally this is where exercise changed my life and I saw the greatest benefits. Throughout school I could never focus, my reading comprehension wasn't the best and I personally didn't have a drive to be a straight A student. As I said I kept a log book, I would document the weights, the reps and write down the names of the exercises. I would also structure the workout ahead of time, that way there was no guessing and I always knew what my next move was. I noticed the intense focus I had, the concentration, not just walking from machine to machine but through every set and rep. I was building on skills I could use in my everyday life. Preparing ahead of time, increasing creativity (making new workouts), focusing on one thing at a time and building the amount of time I could concentrate on a task. The list could go on but I owe everything to exercise.
The resilience you will build from exercise has got to be one of the best benefits. When life knocks you down, you'll just keep getting up! You have to keep trying and continue to push for your biggest aspirations. I can't tell you how many times I have set a goal whether it was a weight or a time I wanted to beat and I just fell short. Your exercise routine will build your resilience every time you dust yourself off and try again on any shortcoming. You fail, you try again. It's that simple. I can guarantee you if you continue to show up, you'll accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Now I'm not saying you have to be an olympic athlete. Going for a walk, paddle boarding, pickleball can all be things that can teach these lessons! Whatever you enjoy doing, there will be lessons taught along the way. Pay attention to them and what they are trying to teach you, they will all have things you can apply in your everyday life.