Thursday, 2 May 2019

Taking Care Of Mental Health With Sports

Here in Lincoln I have been so lucky to be involved with some fantastic sports groups and I want to tell you about the huge impact that is having on my mental health.

"Do some exercise, it will make you feel better", isn't just some throw away comment that people say. In fact, this one action can positively improve mental health in such a way that can genuinely change your lives. Just doing some basic research to prove this I found dozens of papers sharing the connection between bouts of exercise and the positive effects on the mind. 

I have a very personal connection to this, in fact when I had cognitive behaviour therapy a few years ago, one of my main influencing factors of feeling like a failure was to do with myself setting targets that were completely unachievable. 
I used to try and make myself work out 5 times a week and every week I would fail. Rather that just lowering my expectation and accepting my capabilities I carried on and came out of each week knowing I had failed at my "to do" list. Whilst on the course my therapist questioned why I had set such a high target and, to me, I felt that was what I needed to do to stay in control of my body as I felt everything was just slowly getting away from me. I remember as clear as day her just explaining to me to just do one thing every week and be proud of it. So I set a new target, to just do one thing and as the weeks went by and I was achieving that, and sometimes more. My mind began to praise itself for doing activity rather than disregard the efforts as not being good enough.

Over time I have found exercise is key to me maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and actually, I know that if I have a week of not doing any exercise I can quite quickly spiral out of control. 

Exercise for me is dancing. I love to dance and now ZUMBA as much as I can in the week. I usually get 3/4 classes which is great and that dance hour can transform me as a person. What is amazing though is not just the dancing but actually the community I have found within dance. I used to be the person who would just get into a class and get out as quickly as possible but after a few hellos and lighthearted chats I am actually now part of a community of women who see each other every week and even share lunch together {I dance so I can eat!!} so not only has a dance class at a gym got me feeling healthy, I have met other women who truly inspire me and who are willing to laugh and chat about normal life things which can be so uplifting.

Today though I tried something totally new and this is really why I have come home to sit on my computer and write. Today I attended WELL COURT at EASTGATE TENNIS CLUB in town which is running a programme to support positive mental health through sport. I saw it and knew that it would be brilliant. Why? Because people giving their time to support a wider community of people in a positive way can only be a good thing. 
Now being honest, Eastgate is familiar to us but I haven't had any serious tennis coaching since I was in school. I still had the emotions of walking into something new though; anxiety about what the class would be like, would everybody there actually have a tennis background, will I just look stupid?Because as confident as I may seem walking in, my mind is buzzing with 100 reasons why I shouldn't be there. 
However, as soon as we got onto court and just started playing my insecurities drifted away. I spent the whole time feeling like I was doing it all wrong but actually, it's a class for coaching and learning so really I was in the right place, I am there to learn a new skill. 
It definitely got my heart pumping and I think I had a smile on my face the whole time.

Exercise = endorphins and endorphins = happier. 
You need to know this and try to use exercise in your life to make you feel better. Even if you think you mental health is really good, exercise that brings a smile to your face will promote long term care for your mind which is so important.
If you feel like you have time to introduce a few sports activities into your life right now, take a look at local venues offering taster groups or activities to improve well being. It only takes a few google searches to find local groups and then you just have to be brave and have a go at things. 
Starting something new can seem very daunting but the long term positive impact could change your life!

If you want to find out more about WELL COURT AT EASTGATE look at BASSLINE TENNIS and make contact. The team are so helpful and will answer any questions. 



  1. Brilliant blog. I love playing tennis.

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