This is a rather heavy subject, but nonetheless important to talk about. I'd like to preface this article by disclosing that I am not a health care professional, I do not have any professional inputs on this matter but only personal ones.
Mental health is honestly a very tough thing to keep up with. Often times when your mental health is slipping away it's almost unnoticeable until it progresses downwards for a while. One thing I really think is a major positive change in the recent times is that now discussing one's mental health no longer seems like a niche subject, it really never should have been.
Among many factors that affect mental health, I'd like to focus on stress and anxiety for this particular article. It's both the matter very related to sports as well as my personal experiences. I've had moments where I was extremely stressed that eventually lead to high anxiety and even panic attacks, and I've seen even much worse cases with close family members. I have no doubt I may be particularly more affected to stress than others perhaps, me and my mom have this very peculiar issue where when we get extremely stressed, we get physically sick. Sometimes it's just a cold after weakened immune system, sometime we loss noticeable amount of hair, and other times we get weird indigestion issues that forces us to be bed bound for a while. Although getting sick due to high stress is not that uncommon, there are definitely varying degrees of this happening depending person to person.
For us, regular physical activities help immensely to manage our stress levels. It's nothing too complicated, just the fact that if we do 30 minutes to an hour activities of any kind we get to put our minds into something else for a bit and relax. There are countless studies that proves this point, although I'd emphasize again that this is so if you voluntarily do the activity. Make sure you're not even more stressed out feeling pressured to do anything extra!
My mom has been doing light walking and morning yoga for as long as I can remember, and I've been involved in various sports ever since elementary school. Here is a list of things on how physical activity immensely helped us get through our stressful days:
- Controlled time and intensity of the activity helps reduce stress. Feeling in control of your time and effort is a nice way to relax your mind.
- Doing a physical activity with others, or being in a sport team will give you a sense of community like no other. In high school and moving around, my years in soccer and touch rugby has given me so many cherished memories and amazing friends.
- If you're training for a certain time or Personal Best, setting and achieving goals gives you a huge sense of joy and accomplished feeling. Keep in mind that even if you don't get a certain time or distance, you already are however much further and much better from the day before!
- Building up your endurance gives you much more energy throughout the day, being less tired has countless benefits whether if it's school or work.
- Find your motivation to be active. Motivations come in any shapes and sizes and it can really be anything! Mine for the past years has been the views and nature in trails and mountains, you never know when a wildlife will stop by and say hello.
Given that, I think it's very important to note that reducing stress through physical activity and sports can only happen if you enjoy doing so. When things are going too hectic do take some time off and get back at it when you feel like so, it has been proven that a week or two of missed activities does not reduce your performance significantly, and the loss is easily retainable. Here is one of the many studies that shows 2-3 weeks of inactivity does not make much of a difference in long term.
So next time you're having some stressful days, try taking just 30 minutes in your day to do any activity of your choice. It really could be anything: stretching, yoga, walking in the park, biking, strength training, running, or sprinting until you can't anymore and repeat until whenever you feel like you're done! Taking your mind off of something that's been stressing you out is very important for your mental health, and now more than every we need to make sure to take extra good care of our mental health.
Software Engineer från Stockholm
Klubb: Djurgårdens IF Cykelförening