EPISODE #1 of our #StartsWithMe #communityHeroes A short story from Ori at our Movement & Mental Health event at The Runner’s Academy to raise funds for ONE Strength OCR and the #StateofMind Festival. Support amazing people like Ori and organizations like ONE Strength OCR – buy tickets/donate/share the message 🙂 http://bit.ly/SOMF17
The health benefits of movement, exercise, and an active lifestyle are clearly understood. I’d like to call out an often overlooked or simplified idea when it comes to the mental health benefits of exercise.
Yes, exercise and movement are great for our mental health, but not a solution or therapy for mental health problems. Too many people get caught in the trap of running from their problems, of exercising away their insecurities, compulsions, fears, anxieties, and challenges. I acknowledge that there is short-term symptom relief, but in the end, the problems persist and often get worse, or our level of exercise needs to increase to keep up with the avoidance strategy.
If you’re using exercise as a therapy or a solution to your problems, there’s one benefit you have going for you. You’re likely to be fit! That’s great, and it gives you a leg up on improving your overall health and wellbeing, but you’re probably not healing from your mental health struggles. It takes courage to face up to your fears, to acknowledge if this is your situation. When we start opening up to our hidden or stuffed feelings, we give ourselves the opportunity for our wellbeing to flourish.
‘Avoid problems, and you’ll never be the one who overcame them‘ – Richard Bach
My experience in recovery from addiction and mental illness is one more focused on healing my mind, soul, and heart. I was on the other side of this story. I focused on improving the other areas of my life while leaving the movement and an active lifestyle lower on the priority list. Over the past few months, I’ve made a concerted effort to ensure I’m active ‘CONSISTENTLY’ and it’s lifted my overall mood, energy, and capacity to handle stress and anxiety. After five years of dedicated work to heal and flourish, I’m adding the concerted effort of a consistently active lifestyle, and it’s helping me live a more contented life.
What makes an active lifestyle even more enjoyable is doing it with others. When I got connected with other people and groups to exercise with, it added more enjoyment and a sense of connection that’s admittedly lacking for people who live with or have lived with mental health problems. So let’s get off our butts, get connected, and take agency over our lives.
We’re covering these themes at our next event ‘State Of Mind‘ – ‘Movement & Mental Health’ event coming up this Sunday, April 9th at the Runner’s Academy. Join us as we welcome Canadian Olympian & Pan Am Games Silver Medalist Sarah Wells, Dr. Kris Sheppard, and Brian Nicols of One Strength OCR to discuss personal journeys, creating healthy spaces for young people to experience wellbeing through movement, and how we’re working to bring a different lens to the world of mental health.
Starts With Me supports a holistic approach to wellbeing and recovery, in community building, and in the power of taking responsibility for your life and to ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ – Gandhi
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” – Rumi
How often do you expect others or the world around you to change so you can feel better or for your life to be easier?
We think if only they did it this way things would be better. I spent so much of my life blaming the world around me for my problems. Why must I get a university degree? Why must I surrender to global capitalism and get a job? Why can’t we all get along? It’s because of religion, it’s because of greed, wherever I could point blame I would. I pointed my finger in every direction, not realizing three fingers were pointing right back at me.
This perspective guaranteed I’d be miserable because I deflected responsibility away from myself. My fears, insecurities, lack of self-esteem, lack of self-confidence were blamed on others. If they’d change, I’d be ok. Since they will never change, I’m justified in my anger, misery, self-destruction, moral superiority, and so on.
What did this get me? A disabling drug addiction, coupled with various mental health problems that rendered my life into perpetual crisis, relationship problems, and disconnection from any sense of community, connection, and a loving sense of self. I could always justify, rationalize, and minimize my circumstance. Just because I’m high on the most potent marijuana ever created 24/7 doesn’t mean I have a problem. At least I’m not homeless or addicted to ‘worse’ drugs. I pretended I wasn’t terrified of trying to get a job because it’s not fair I had to be qualified by the system we live in. You name it, I would use it to stay in DENIAL – (Don’t, Even, Notice, I, Am, Lying) This led me to the depths of despair and the darkest place I’d ever imagine. We all have a bottom, and it’s when we decide to stop digging.
When I stopped digging and asked for help, I became willing to look within for the changes I wanted from the world. I received the gift of self-awareness, reflection, and honesty. I learned that I was at the root of my life problems, and the only one who could change them. Over the years of looking within for solutions to what I perceive to be the world’s problems, I’ve been blessed with so many beautiful experiences, relationships, and lessons that are shaping the person I am on a moment to moment basis.
I always wanted the world to be a more honest, safe, responsible, compassionate place. Now those are some of my most important values. I’m no longer complaining about you, the government, the corporate world, and anything else I could point to. I still see the same issues, but I don’t blame my problems on them. I use what I’ve learned to practice and embody what I want out of the world. This allows me to be the person, husband, father, brother, son, and friend, I always wanted to be. Only in this way, can I, one individual, play my part in bringing more peace, love, honesty, forgiveness, and acceptance into the world I believe so desperately needs it.
Starts With Me is launching the ‘State Of Mind’ Youth Mental Health & System Innovation Festival on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017. Please see more here startswithme.ca/som
You can buy tickets or donate here – https://stateofmindfestival.eventbrite.ca