Mental health is the most important tool you have to promote happiness, energy levels, and well-being. Your mental health is obvious to those around you. What seems less obvious to YOU is how easy it is to claim health every morning. Consider it as simple as taking three pills.
Generally, I find that people are against taking medication. This resistance is even more pronounced when the medication is prescribed for a mental illness. I get that, but many of these same people seem incapable, or at least unmotivated, to make the lifestyle changes that are a possible alternative—read “important complement”—to the medication.
Pill Option #1: Exercise for Mental Health
Two of the most common excuses I hear about exercising are 1) “I don’t have the time.” 2) “I am a member of a gym, but I’m going to get over there.” Both these may appear on the surface to be about time, but only the first is about time. The second is about misunderstanding the difference between exercise for body building and exercising for mental health.
Exercise for body building requires a dedicated effort of time, systematically targeted to develop and maintain the development of muscles. Exercising for mental health only requires the consistency of effort. It has less requirements of equipment.
To each of the excuses, I offer a specific rebuttal. Time: Don’t focus on the time. Just complete these moves in the morning. Gym Member: Don’t waste that time. Get down on the floor in the morning or evening and complete these moves.
Move in the Morning. I suggest seven movements in sequence: 20 push-ups, Up-Dog (Yoga), Down-Dog (Yoga), 20 bicycle sit-ups, 10+10 cross-leg oblique lifts, 20 long-lever lifts, 40 mountain climbers. You can mix, match, and replace as long as you are getting upper and lower body, cardio and resistance training. The moves above are usually completed within 7 minutes, but may require 10 minutes from the uninitiated.
Rather than thinking of this as healthy exercise, remember, this is a pill you are taking each morning for your mental health. Foregoing your medication can have detrimental effects on your health and well-being. Motivating your exercise is ensuring your attraction of positivity throughout the day.
Yes. In case you are curious. I complete this circuit at least 4 mornings per week, more when the stress gets higher. I even drop to the floor in my office sometimes. My time is right out of bed or right out of the shower. My wife replaces cross-leg oblique lifts with squats and sometimes alternates in standing leg lifts.
Make nutrition convenient for yourself. In your home, lunch bag, and office refrigerator stock apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, celery or other fruits or vegetables that are in season. Choose ones that are easy to carry with you, easy to pick up around the house, and crunchy, satisfying, fun.
Plan Your Meals in advance. Make a grocery list based on the meals you would like to have each week. Make sure that they are easy and relatively quick to make. Decrease the fats, processed foods, and oils generally (like fried foods and prepared meals). Keep the healthy fats (fish, nuts), fresh foods, oils like real butter for taste and coconut oil for greasing pans.
Keep the Fun. Rather than “Cheat Nights,” have balance in your approach to food. Never attempt to cut your pleasure foods out of your diet entirely. Also, refuse the temptation to use them as rewards or emotional crutches. Yet, integrate them as part of your meals. Cake, a fried food, even chips, can be a complement to a meal or a dessert. Employ wise portion sizes, and ENJOY your food to keep cravings and binging at bay.
Medication. And sometimes, you need more than a multivitamin. Under the supervision of a responsible doctor, you may have been prescribed a pharmaceutical. Follow the doctor’s instructions, check with the doctor periodically for review, and keep the doctor abreast of life changes that may signal a need to update dosing and frequency regimen.
Similar to a multi-vitamin, the pill will need to be taken on a consistent schedule in order for you to reap the maximum benefit. Like a multi-vitamin, you may need the pill for the rest of your life, changing based on your age and metabolism. Taking the pill makes you a responsible person, not dependent, but intentional about your mental health.
Remember that feeling better does not mean that you should discontinue your medication. As with all the recommendations in this post, your return to balanced, effective power state means that you should keep doing what you are doing. Make mental health a lifestyle choice each morning.
The lifestyle support through exercise and diet combined with the regular use of competently prescribed medication can result in increased ability and the experience you have been searching for. These options available to you every morning. A responsible regimen will include a decision to take the medications that sustainably get you to your goals.