Strength Training for Mental Health
Growing up I had a very different life to most kids, spending a lot of time in hospital fighting through multiple medical conditions and major surgeries. When I was 2.5 years old I had already; battled cancer, lost a kidney, lost my hearing and speech as a side effect of chemo, and then suffered near heart failure at the age of 12, pneumonia at age 14 which had me in a hospital bed for 3 months, and finally a heart transplant in 2001 at the age of 15.
I’ve been on a lucky streak up until 6 weeks ago (now aged 33) when I landed in hospital from a heart attack and had a stent put in.
While most of you may consider my life quite unlucky I’ve come to realise what a blessing it has been. My struggles have taught me many things, but the most powerful thing it taught me is how to persevere and overcome obstacles that life throws at me. My adversities have allowed me to build the mental strength to tackle anything and am lucky that so far I am NOT ‘one in three’ that suffer from mental illness.
So I can never say that I know what it is like to personally go through depression and/ or mental illness. However, my 10-year career as a strength and performance coach has me building some very close relationships with my clients and through them, has allowed me to learn a lot about mental health. Quite often I can pick up on a lack of mental strength from a clients’ performance in the gym and in no way does this mean the client suffers from mental illness, but the possibility is more likely there. Some clients have opened up to me about it and others have not, or at least not yet.
I love my career as a strength and performance coach because I am able to help people not just get physically strong but also mentally strong. I am so inspired when I witness my clients break mental barriers that have kept them chained inside a small mental box for so long! Lifting weights has never just been about building muscle, but also about developing a resilient mind.
By lifting weights and completing challenging tasks within your fitness goals you get to learn how strong your will power really is and how to channel that will power. Every time you face these challenges you’ll likely tell yourself you CAN’T do it, until you eventually tell yourself you CAN do it. It’s about finding that small bit of mental strength hidden in the corner of your mind and using that to tackle challenges. Your will power will be built upon each victory, no matter how big or how small and this very same will power is what you’ll use to face adversity in life.
I have people in my world who struggle with mental illness. Some are struggling with day to day life. Some have pushed people away that were once very close to them. Some are having break downs. Some have ended up in hospital or a mental institution. Some have tried to commit suicide and others sadly, have actually committed suicide.
Mental illness is real and I am not saying that strength training is the answer for you, but it could be a small part of the solution. If you suffer from mental illness, always know that my phone is on if you need to chat. Furthermore, check out the helpful links below: