October 10 marks World Mental Health Day as declared by the World Health Organization. This year it comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; for the vast number of people caught in poverty or fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. And this is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye. (source WHO)
From where we are and where we stand, we can attest to how crucial fitness and all kinds of movement have and will continue to support mental health. We said it before, it is what keeps us sane especially in times of uncertainty. How many times did you feel down and a workout lift you up? How many times have you released negative emotions in a yoga practice? I bet you can still remember dancing your worries away in just 60 minutes of Zumba...right?! There's something magical about movement and exercise.
It's not just magic, it's proven science. We are seeing more studies showing numerous benefits of exercise on mental health. Depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and adults. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health)
"Mind, Body, Soul", we all see and hear those 3 words; usually hand in hand in wellness practices. Ever wonder why? Here is one very simple explanation...
Our body reflects our inner being, if our mind, body, and soul are in balance then our body is in balance. Disease occurs when the mind, body, and soul are not working in harmony, the term dis-ease represents the turmoil created when these three components are out of alignment.
The body is a complex machine designed by nature to serve the soul.
Where do we go from here? We move for mental health. Invest in yours and support others around you whenever you can. We may be in the same storm, but most definitely not in the same boat.