Many people don’t realize how their lifestyle affects their mental health.
It is vital for personal development, because your mentality shapes your character.
Thoughts eventually become words, which become actions, which become behaviors that affect our character.
One way you can set yourself up for optimal mental health is through exercise. Granted, there are many ways to cultivate a healthy mental state, but in this post, my purpose is to reveal the connection between our physical health to our mental health.
This example stems from a personal experience when I trained for a half-marathon. Through my training, God revealed insight on how our physical training always results in some sort of dual training. Meaning, you’ll get training in other aspects as you work out and exercise.
It could be mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes relationally. But ultimately, you could get discipline in every area of your life just by going to the gym. If you pursue self-improvement and a growth mindset, this will motivate you.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.1 Corinthians 9:24.
It’s interesting what happens during a run – you go through so many emotions! One mile, you feel okay, like you got this. And then the next one you feel completely defeated, like a failure. Then the next mile, you feel a little more confident, maybe a lot. And it ping-pongs back and forth until you’re done!
But with each running session, every thought and emotion gets a little more controlled and strategic. You learn how to think purposefully, your song/podcast choices become intentional, you’re more in tune with your pace and heart rate, and overall how to keep going when you want to give up.
You train your mind and emotions (your internal state of being, really) as you train your body.
Cause while you focus on your body, you subconsciously make your internal state work. You discipline it. You tell yourself over and over “you can do this,” “don’t quit,” “you got this.” It’s not just your body working out, but your internal state as well.
It’s easier to train your mind when you’re also training your body! How cool is that?
Get Discipline In Every Area Of Your Life
When people tell me how “busy” or “out of tune” they’ve been with themselves, my first thought is to ask them how often they exercise. Knowing it can be a more sensitive topic, I rarely get to. But it truly is an important part of our life. Not only is it physically healthy, but it’s also good for us on the inside, our internal state of being. It helps us get into that “disciplined” lifestyle we say we need or should have but often avoid.
Because exercise is a constant discipline, it eventually trickles into other areas of your life. It gently forces you to eat more healthy, to get more rest and sleep, etc. And every area of your life seems to align more. Even though we all go through various seasons, I believe that if at least one area in your life has constant and healthy discipline, it’ll pass on to other areas.
When I get into a rut or frenzy, I know I need to assess how I’m living my life all around, including how I’m exercising! It takes a while to realize this sometimes, but it definitely helps me get into a better state. Sometimes it’s deeper than how I’m physically working out or what I’m eating, and so I look into other areas where I’m usually consistent. For example:
Journaling helps me process my thoughts and emotions, and so when I get mental fatigue or stress out, I know that one area I can look at is my notebooks and journals, and ask myself:
- When was my last journal entry?
- What did I write about?
- How did it help me?
- Will it help me right now?
Another area for me is Bible reading. When I get easily overwhelmed by the smallest things, it’s most likely because I haven’t been feeding myself with the Word of God. When I get confused or frustrated about my purpose, it’s probably because I haven’t sat at Jesus’s feet.
Catch my drift?
Ultimately, when we exercise, run, work out, or do some kind of physical activity, it’s not just your body doing the work, but your internal state as well.
Your thoughts, emotions, motives, spiritual beliefs, your values, character and personality, and anything else that composes your being. It’s all getting a workout!
You get stronger, more defined, and refined as a person. And even more when you have specific outcomes in mind.
As a concluding thought, this verse helps us remember to stay disciplined and live with integrity:
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. Proverbs 12:11
Even through this verse, there is a physical work happening. The ultimate principle is that no matter how you exercise, it will affect another part of your life.
You don’t have to start big with a gym membership and all the gimmicks that come with it (unless that’s what will motivate you). You can start small:
- Go on a daily walk without your phone.
- Stretch in the mornings and/or evenings.
- Run for 20 minutes every other day.
- Do some squats, lunges, and push-ups for 15 minutes.
How has physical exercise helped you in another aspect of yourself?