Being a personal trainer, most of my focus is on my clients’ physical health and performance.  I want my clients to move well and feel great in order to enhance their lives. However, what often gets swept under the rug is mental health.  In a society that places a greater emphasis on our outer appearance as well as still-prevalent stigma surrounding mental illness, many of us are left to suffer in silence.  

     Having suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life, I can definitely tell you that mental health isn’t just important, it’s EVERYTHING.  If you don’t take care of what’s between your ears, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Before we go any further, if you need help then please reach out.  If you’re having trouble functioning through daily life, go see a doctor and/or therapist. I’m not a doctor and am not prescribing the following recommendations, I’m simply sharing with you what’s helped me.  

  1. Move your body.  I make sure to move at least 30-minutes a day doing something.  Even if it’s a rest day, I simply do something low-intensity like walk Honey Bear.  Being active does wonders for your physical and mental health. There’s the obvious endorphin rush that comes from exertion, but also the feeling of accomplishment upon completion.  With that comes an increase in confidence. Even if you do 5-minutes of movement, that’s still a step in the right direction. Our bodies were meant to move, being sedentary goes against our nature as human beings.  

2. Drink more water.  This has helped me perform better physically but has also increased my energy levels.  As a result, I’m more alert and focused leading to a much more productive day. Staying hydrated has also made it easier for me to avoid snacking on foods I should be limiting.  Take half of your body weight and drink that number of fluid ounces daily. Don’t believe me? Try it, see what happens and prove me wrong.  

3. Declutter your home.  Whenever I’m feeling really overwhelmed by life, it helps for me to remove unnecessary objects from my home.  While I’m not a minimalist or anything, I can tell you that getting rid of stuff you don’t use is a great way to remove excess clutter in your life in both a literal and metaphorical sense.  This can be very challenging at first, as Westerners we are very fond of our material possessions. If you’re not sure where to start, simply start picking up random items and ask these two questions:

4. This will take more thought and more intestinal fortitude.  Take a look around you and really examine your environment. Look at every interpersonal relationship that you have and ask these questions about each person:

Does this item bring me joy?  If this is a “yes,” it’s a no-brainer and simply keep the item.  However, if an item either doesn’t bring you joy, or worse brings you misery, cut it loose.  

Does this item serve a specific function currently?  This is tricky as we have items that we use for special occasions or for specific seasons.  This is fine, I’m talking more about items that serve no purpose for you. If an item is a “no” on both questions REMOVE IMMEDIATELY.    

Does this person bring me joy?  To me, this one is simple. If a person doesn’t bring you even the slightest bit of joy, I would recommend getting away from them.  

Is this person a giver or a taker?  If you find that you’re the one always giving and being taken advantage of, resentment will build in time.  There are ebbs and flows with everything in life and we all go through tough times, but don’t waste your time giving to someone who won’t reciprocate or appreciate you.  Your time and energy are very valuable, spend them on the people that truly matter. I’m very fortunate to work with people that give more than they take and have fostered an amazing culture at our gym.  

Does this person help me grow by pushing me?  Do everything in your power to keep these people in your life.  These are the ones that will cut the shit and tell you what you don’t want but desperately need to hear.  True growth comes from tough conversations with these people. Treasure them, for they are few and far in between.  

Does this person complain a lot and make excuses?  I treat these types of people like they’ve been infected with the T-Virus from Resident Evil.  They will drain every ounce of energy from you and do absolutely nothing to help you. What’s worse is that all of the time spent listening to them complain will do nothing but stress you out.  Or worse, if you’re like me you’ll jump into problem-solving mode and try to save the day. To quote Scar: Run. Run away and never return.” Look, we all need to vent from time to time, I totally get it and admit that I do the same.  However, if every single conversation is negative this is a drain on you. I’ve even removed people from my friends list on social media to remove negativity from my environment!  

5. Stop Doing Everything.  I want you to take one thing off of your plate right now.  We all have a to-do list that’s sky-high (I no longer write one out) and it is overwhelming.  Look, we only have 24 hours in a day. You can’t do everything, accept it and downsize a little.  Take one thing off your list. Prioritize your top three and let the rest wait until you get there.  Or, even better GET SOME FREAKING HELP! One of the best things I did last year was hire a web designer.  I had no idea what I was doing and what’s worse? I don’t like web design at all! After trying to put something together off and on for over a year, I ponied up the cash and now have an awesome website designed by a professional!  One of the best things about training with Sean is he writes the program and tells me what to do. It’s simple and lets me save my mental energy for other things. Stop trying to be superhuman and get some help every once in awhile.  

     Sometimes you have to be a little selfish and take care of you.  If you’re mentally cluttered or feeling anxious, it’s going to make you less able to take care of those important to you.  Follow these simple steps, simplify and improve your mental state. Then, focus on your personal mission and conquer what’s in your path.

Thank you all so much for reading. Be sure to check out episode 3 of our new YouTube video series “Strength with a Purpose.”

In this episode, we teach the basics of the kettlebell squat. Please subscribe to the channel for more free fitness content!

To your lifelong health and success,

-Demarco Crum, CPT

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