Mental Health and Your Community
Monday, March 16th, 2020 started off like any other day – I woke up, worked out, went to work, ordered lunch, and then suddenly the world stopped. By the time I woke up on Tuesday, March 17th, the city was on lockdown, everything was closed, and overnight, everyone I had worked with in the last four years was abruptly left without a job.
These are the days we typically turn to friends for comfort, turn to routine for stability, or turn to sweat for some release. But what do we do when we must keep distance from our loved ones, we’re stuck in the house, and fitness has become a forgotten leisure?
We feel stress, anxiety, maybe even depression. And it’s completely normal. What we must do now is find ways to overcome these feelings of negativity. In the simplest terms, we need to find ways to create community in the newly-distanced landscapes, develop routines that propel us forward, and return some of our attention back to our physical well-being.
Exercise, even in small increments, is proven to be one of the most effective mood-boosters. Dr. Brendon Stubbs reports “Exercise…has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety” (Kandola, Stubbs 2020). Exercising both our bodies and our minds is key in aiding the elevation of our moods, self-esteem, and cognitive function. A study of 1.2 million people in the US found that people who exercise report having 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health per month, compared to people who do not exercise. “Exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits” (The Lancet, 2018).
While the benefits of exercise are clear, committing to it can sometimes feel like mission impossible on your own. A dearth of human interaction has resulted in all time low levels of accountability and motivation. So how do we find community, when society has shifted to social distancing? Digitally! Online communication has opened up a beautiful world of possibilities for connecting to our loved ones, and even allows us to reconnect to friends who may live at distances too great to have maintained contact with before.
When I realized that the support systems I needed could only now be found online, I got to work trying to find a way to reconnect, and to get that sweat (my therapy), back into my life. I soon realized I was not the only one looking for support, and in a matter of months, a group of 12 fitness coaches and I rallied together, and we now provide online fitness classes to hundreds of members across the country. These members are realizing the benefits of what many studies prove: "Particularly, the data suggest that both social support and positive events protect one from the pathogenic effects of high levels of stress" (Cohen 1983).
Your supportive community can be anyone you choose, and our group, eTONE Fitness, strives to help facilitate that community. Whether you socialize throughout the class, or if you just come to feel seen by your coaches, we here every day, focused on helping you feel your best. We offer variety to help you find what you need, strength and cardio training to sweat out your stress, plus worry-free stretching classes on select Fridays.
Whether it’s with eTONE or elsewhere, find yourself again: reach out to your friends, commit to a new daily routine, and find your fitness. We’re here for you.
Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13(2), 99–125. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1983.tb02325.x
Kandola A, Stubbs B. Exercise and Anxiety. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1228:345-352. doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-1792-1_23. PMID: 32342469.
Paluska, S.A. & Schwnek, T.L. (2000). Physical Activity and Mental Health: Current Concepts. Sports Med, 29 (3), 167–180.
The Lancet. "Exercise linked to improved mental health, but more may not always be better." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180808193656.htm>.