Benefits of exercise on well-being
The benefits of regular exercise on physical health are well known, however for me this motivation was not enough. When people used to say to me “exercise makes me feel so good”, all I could think about was the physical pain I would be in during and after exercise. I never understood the bigger picture.
Since the age of seven (I am now 21) I have tried various sports and changed various teams, never fully enjoying myself in the process; I was missing internal motivation. Let me explain what I mean.
Internal motivation to me now means that physical activity results in my own happiness. I know for some this may sound a little crazy, but I really do believe that finding your own way to stay physically active, can completely improve quality of life. I’m not just talking about the adrenaline and dopamine rush post work out, what I’m saying is that regular physical activity no matter how big or small, or what kind, has helped me connect and find stability within myself in a world that constantly challenges my mental health.
A different way of thinking – connecting my mind to my body
To be completely honest, I would say that until 19 years old I was exercising unconsciously. This means that, although I have always been an active person I was never fully present. What I am trying to say here is that, exercise and physical activity, yes have helped me to stay fit and learn many skills in the process, but without the realisation of the power my mind had over my body, the benefits of exercise were only limited to my physical wellbeing.
You must be wondering why it took me so long?
And my answer to this is: knowledge. Which is why I am writing this blog. When I was growing up I had limited availability to wellbeing resources, and so I worked this out myself through trial and error; I fell in love with working out by mistake, hence why it took longer than it could have. But I am so happy to have acknowledged what I experienced in a way that could influence many others. My biggest learning curve was learning and experiencing how inter-connected physical and mental health really are. This is what helped me find internal motivation. This is how I learnt to love myself and my life from a whole new perspective – I had the power.
Image ref:Happy Brains blog post
The importance of habits
What most of us don’t realise, is the unconscious and manipulative role that unhealthy habits can play in our lives. The craziest thing about all of this is that most of the time we don’t choose our habits, it’s the environment and the people around us that shape and encourage certain behaviours. Most of the time I wasn’t making decisions, but I was following the routine I had unconsciously been developing thought my life. Being able to recognize those unhealthy habits was my most challenging step towards a healthier mindset.
My biggest realisation was recognising the amount of time I was spending on social media, and how this was affecting my creativity and productivity; what I would now call an unhealthy habit. Going on my phone whenever I had spare time was automatic, and there I would waist hours scrolling through limitless content, wasting lots of useful time and energy. What seems like a very small step, completely changed my way of thinking and by giving me the ability to choose MY way of living.
Creating new habits can take time and patience is key. Having formed those healthy habits has made me able to live every day in a whole new better, happier and easier way.