Growing up, working out had always been a big part of my life. Until it wasn’t. I played basketball all through my youth and even went on to play in college. I spent more days exercising than not- it was an important part of my life. But then, I stopped. I didn’t want to, but I had no desire to play ball for some adult league and wasn’t interested in jogging or lifting weights.
I spent about a year not exercising. My job was physical enough, but I didn’t do much of anything to stay healthy in the meantime. And I changed. I was depressed, unhappy, and lethargic. I didn’t think that it might be connected to my lack of fitness.
And then I started kickboxing. I sort of stumbled into it. I found myself in my first class, training at a gym with some serious fighters. All it took was that one class, and I was hooked. I started training as much as I could; I couldn’t get enough of it.
It was only a few weeks before I noticed changes. I’m not talking about weight loss or muscle tone, although that happened too. I was happier. I was full of energy, and I had something to look forward to every day. Although I was sore beyond belief and was feeling pain in muscles I didn’t know existed, I felt fantastic.
I never realized the affect that intense exercise had on my body and mind, at least, not until it was missing from my life. Kickboxing helped me realize the importance of being active. It fights off my inner demons…it keeps me balanced and maintains my mental health. It was my way of helping myself.
Why Does Self-Help Matter?
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness, but almost 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in a given year. With so much of the population suffering from undiagnosed mental issues like anxiety and depression, there are a lot of people who have a hard time keeping their mental health in check.
And that’s because getting help isn’t easy. For one, there’s the stigma surrounding mental illness. No one wants to be “branded” with an illness, only to be discriminated against and ridiculed. Secondly, there’s the difficulty in getting the help you need. It’s not always as easy as going to a psychiatrist. Navigating through the maze of insurance can make getting treatment ridiculously difficult. Yet another obstacle is overcoming the illness itself. If you have anxiety, speaking about your issues to another person can be extremely difficult- getting up the courage to do so takes a lot of strength. And that’s not all. Everyone has their own reasons for not getting help. But they’re all suffering in silence.
That’s why self-help is so important. Although you can’t cure a mental illness, you can help alleviate its symptoms. By practicing kickboxing or another intense activity, you can help yourself when you can’t turn anywhere else for support.
Written By: Danielle Gallagher
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