5 Ways your Mental Health could be Harming your Physical Health and Fitness
Note: Today's post is written by a guest and very good friend of mine, Alyson Brumbaugh. Alyson has her Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling and lives in the sunshine state of Florida! She loves helping people overcome barriers in their mental health.
She also loves running and creating art in her free time! I think you'll love her actionable tips on how to recognize unhealthy thought patterns and re-frame your thinking to achieve optimal health and fitness.
Let's dive in.
Why is this topic important to you? Surprisingly enough, poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions. That means, long-term, it could lead to things like heart disease, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, etc.
With this being said, mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. Having one without the other may be possible in the short term but, over time, can really hold you back from living a healthy, happy life.
The connection between our thoughts and physical actions
The biggest part of mental health that affects physical health are the unhelpful thinking habits that prevent (most of) us from obtaining physical health.
Think of it like this. Have you ever tried running? 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons and/or full marathons? About 99.9% (okay maybe not that much, but the majority) of running is mental.
If you were telling yourself during your run “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this” then chances are you probably weren’t able to do it, right?
However, on the flip side, if you tell yourself throughout the run (no matter how short or long) “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” then chances are you will probably be able to do it.
What we say to ourselves is often exactly what we believe to be true.
Are you starting to see how negative or harmful thoughts can be damaging in many areas of life?
5 Unhelpful thinking habits that effect our physical health
Scary Fact: Signs of mental illness can show up in our everyday lives without even knowing it.
The good news? While some conditions are more serious that others, they are completely treatable. The vast majorities of Americans who have experienced mental illness (in small or big ways) recover and live happy, productive lives!
Long gone are the days in which we thought of physical health and mental health as separate and distinct. One is not possible without the other.
Here are 5 unhealthy thought patterns that could be holding you back:
Black and white thinking: Believing that work outs or food can only be good or bad, right or wrong, rather than anything in-between or ‘shades of grey’ (just not 50). For instance, “I’m only healthy when I work out, my diet doesn’t count.”
Ignoring the positive: Paying more attention to the bad things about working out and ignore when something good happens. Even the small victories are victories! For instance, “I’m not sweating enough”, “I only worked out for 20 minutes so it doesn’t count”, “I only gave 50% effort today instead of 100%”, etc.
Catastrophizing: Imagining and believing that the worst possible thing will happen. For instance, “Since I didn’t work out today, now I’m going to gain 25lbs!”
Shoulds and Musts: Believing things have to be a certain way. For instance, “I should be able to work out for 60 minutes every single day” or “I must work out 7 days a week.”
Feelings as Facts: Believing that if you feel some type of way, then is must be trust. For instance, “I feel disappointed in my workouts lately, so my workouts are never going to help me.”
How to fix unhealthy thought patterns
The first step is to recognize when you have these unhelpful thoughts. It might be helpful to jot these down to see if there are any patterns when you are having them.
Next, start to replace your negative thoughts. This is easier said than done. However, the more aware you are about having unhelpful thoughts, the better you can be to replace those unhelpful thoughts with helpful ones.
A good way to replace unhelpful thoughts is to replace them with positive affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that can reflect characteristics about yourself. For instance, “I love what my body can do physically”, “I love seeing everyone at the gym”, “I am beautiful.” etc.
Another way to replace unhelpful thoughts is to use gratitude. Gratitude and positive affirmations are very similar. Gratitude is underrated by most but is essential to a happy life. Life doesn't get easier, but we can become stronger as we reframe difficulties by recognizing all of the little good things going on around us. Keep a Good List and refer to it daily to practice gratitude.
Finally, focus on what you really want and be very specific. A focused, positive mind will attract what it is seeking over time.
Related Article: Transform your habits for healthy change
After thoughts from Nicole:
I'm so grateful that Alyson offered her insight in today's post! She's clearly very passionate about helping people understand signs (small or big) of mental blocks we put up for ourselves in our own health, often without knowing it. I'll admit, I am guilty of black and white thinking from time to time!
Almost the entire GROW category on my blog is dedicated to healthy mindset, goal setting, and being mentally strong. View more by heading back to the blog page!
I hope you can use these actionable tips to be aware of your own thought patterns and how they might be holding you back from your health and fitness goals.
Share in the comments! Which one of the 5 unhealthy thought patterns do you feel like is most common in your life?
Keep moving friends!