The topic of mental health is, thankfully, spoken of much more than ever before, but we still have a long way to go to get it in the public consciousness and to get absolutely everybody talking about it. While there are online forums and helplines dedicated to those that need to reach out for help, there are so many of us who suffer in silence. And sure, we all have our own ways of working the problem through, but for some of us, we haven’t found the right method to help with our anxieties or depression.
A lot of people can easily stay in their depression because they don’t have enough things to do, which gives them ample opportunities to think more about their issues, which can have a detrimental effect. There are many people who subscribe to the school of being busy to help them cope with their mental health issues. While being too busy and cramming everything into your life with little room for breathing space can be bad, keeping yourself occupied with a hobby is a very sensible thing to do. This is why sports have been put forward as a way to deal with the pressures of depression and mental health issues, and here is how they can help you.
The great thing about a sport of any kind is the routine that it embeds into you, even if you are doing a solitary sport like golf. For anyone that has suffered from anxiety, you know that it is something that can consume every corner of your mind. It can wear you down, which is why it is a good idea to go for a sport that requires all of your concentration. Doing something like weightlifting puts you into a position where you are lifting something so heavy that you cannot focus on anything else, the very routine of the exercise makes it impossible to stray from the task at hand. They say even if you are in a mental block in terms of being creative or you are struggling to study, you just need to shock your body. In other words, go for a run, have a cold shower, something that gets you out of that state of mind and forces you to focus on the now. Competitive sports work great in this context because of the intense focus you have to place on your teammates, the ticking clock, the opponents, they all provide a healthy diversion from the chemical imbalance in your mind. And, the more you build this type of hobby into your life, the more you will notice it when it isn’t there.
The Self-Worth Factor
Of course, there are many articles that talk about the reasons why exercising is good for depression, but for some people, it isn’t enough to go for a run and feel better. It has to become something much more than that, and while the talk of endorphins (the feel-good hormone) has been covered in many other medical journals, I want to focus on what exercise does in terms of your appearance. It sounds vain to talk about building muscle or toning your body, but when we are caught in a self-deprecating cycle, we will focus on the bad things about ourselves, and this gives way to conditions like dysmorphia, where we may think our bodies are too ugly or inadequate in some way. The fact is, in spite of the endorphins, putting on muscle and losing weight via exercise is a great motivator if we can see the results. That digit less on the weighing scale or the abs slowly starting to protrude through our skin can be encouraging enough to keep us going. Exercise is great for self-confidence, but when we need to find a way to value ourselves in a society that holds image as one of its highest prizes it may be a way to achieve a sense of balance!
The Hobby Aspect
If it doesn’t suit you, you don’t need to sweat buckets and run yourself ragged if you don’t want to. A lot of people don’t have a worthwhile hobby in their life because they have so many other things to do and not enough time to do it in. Family, work, and the little stresses in life can all add up to one big stress, which is why sport can be a hobby where you finally get to unwind and get reacquainted with you again. A sport like golf is one that requires little stretching and strenuous lifting, but it gives you periods of intense focus combined with an opportunity to do some soul-searching as you walk to the next hole.
Starting a hobby like golf is an investment for many, but even someone like Will Smith became addicted to its charms and actually got up before filming to put a few rounds in. You can look at the Best Golf Drivers Unveiled 2017 list for ideas on clubs and what will suit your needs as a golfer. But it doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby, but if you get into the swing of things, then you may find that it provides a really good release from the pressures of life. A golf course is so quiet and tranquil, combined with the luscious greenery around you, that it could become a little meditative session for you.
The Reduction Of Stress
A big reason we feel unable to cope and therefore develop anxieties is due to stress. While exercise naturally reduces stress, it can also help you to develop resilience, which will be a really big help in solving problems and give you a coping strategy. Many people will use alcohol or drugs, but many also use exercise to develop the physical and emotional strength to cope with their everyday stresses. Sport and exercise work in so many different ways to give you the power to overcome problems, and it is definitely worth taking the opportunity to build it into your life routine, so you can feel the benefits inside and out.
This piece by William Hall was originally published on ‘ThyBlackMan.com’ April 11, 2017.