May 19, 2016

Leave time in your routine to work on your mindset as well as your fitness

A COUPLE OF weeks ago, we saw the amount of interest and attention mental health now has in Ireland.

It was encouraging to see more than 120,000 people taking part in the ‘Darkness into Light’ events across the country.

Most of us know someone who has been affected by mental health issues at some point in their lives, directly or indirectly.

First of all, you might be asking ‘why is this is in a fitness column?’.

I would regard physical fitness as very important but how you train and look after your mind is just as, if not more, important.

To me, fitness isn’t always about lifting weights, running or going under the bar to hit a heavy squat.

Spending time on your mindset is something I would encourage everybody to incorporate into their fitness routine. You’ve got to slow down to speed up sometimes.

As a personal trainer I have seen the huge benefit with some clients who are treating exercise as a path to help them with their own personal battles.

There is such great help out there for anyone fighting their battle with mental health. Pieta House and Aware are two fantastic organisations who do so much in providing help and assistance to people and families affected.

Here are some methods you can adopt in your approach to physical and mental health:

1. Get active and outdoors

Ireland has so many parks, hills, rivers and trails which are ideal for getting fresh air and unwinding. In my last article, I highlighted some outdoor venues and workouts for you to try with little or no equipment

Head out with friends for social gatherings like golf outings, walks or bike rides to help recharge the batteries and keep your body and mind active.

Yoga and meditation are other great outlets to bring into your daily exercise routine. I would recommend at least one yoga session a week. Slow down, breathe, stretch and meditate.

A meditation app I have used in the past is called Headspace. All you need is 10 minutes a day for 10 days. You can get a free 10-day trial with this link.

2. Keep moving forward every day

List down three things every night that YOU are going to work on the next day.

This should be a small step but this daily step of action will lead you to the big goal. There is a lot to be said for that sense of achievement, no matter how small it may seem. It could be a goal working towards your fitness, health, anything.

Working on visualisation and having a goal/vision board is another way of keeping focused and on track and is something I’ve used in the past myself and with friends and clients.

This could be a vision to run a marathon this year, lose some weight, being able to spend time and give lots of energy to play with your kids, or even sticking a picture on your wall from your glorious sporting days as a source of motivation.

I have also found that working on gratitude and appreciation is another protocol I would also encourage.

Start your day with listing three things that you are grateful to have in your life. Being grateful for your health, your fitness, your previous sporting accomplishments, the people around you motivating and encouraging you, to the food on your plate, is something I believe is also great for your body and mind

I have used this five-minute journal in the past and it has really helped me focus more and keep me on track.

Keeping a journal like this is great as it will hold you accountable to your goals, keep you motivated and will be a good checklist on what went right and wrong for you on the day so you can keep getting better.

3. Get creative

Take up a new hobby, challenge or sport and get creative, switch off and start embrace your artistic side; draw, play music or even get creative in the kitchen with your cooking. A healthy mind helps a healthy body.

Doing things that help the brain slow down, de-stress and unwind are vital and often sacrificed in favour of more fitness-focused activities.

Thanks for reading and I hope this can help you or a friend out.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin, for more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter