Mental wellbeing is a hugely important topic and is increasingly at the forefront of any discussion regarding health and wellness.
There is little doubt that, as a society, our attitude towards mental health has vastly improved in recent years but there is still a way to go. Many of us are familiar with the ways in which we can improve our physical health but little is known regarding ‘exercising’ our mental health.
Research suggests there are a few key steps you can take to improve your mental health and well-being:
- Connecting with people
- Learning new skills
- Giving to others
- Paying attention to the present moment – mindfulness
- Being physically active
The mental health benefits of exercise and its impact in dealing with depression, anxiety and stress are well documented.
We all know CrossFit is an important way to improve our physical wellbeing but several aspects are also hugely beneficial for our mental health.
5 Ways CrossFit Improves Your Wellbeing
1.The Power of Community
One of the foundations of CrossFit is the community aspect – it is unique; there is always someone there to show support, cheering you on through a tough WOD or partnering up for a long workout. The social support in CrossFit provides motivation but also a sense of belonging, being part of something and connecting with people on an emotional level.
2. Increased Confidence
Confidence is something that most of us will struggle with at some point in their lives, it can also have a huge effect on our mental health, lack of self-confidence is usually a contributing factor to depression. Regularly taking part in CrossFit classes and learning new skills will inevitably lead to increased confidence in the gym, making it easier to improve performance and learn faster, but it can also help improve your confidence in other areas of life. Increased confidence leads to increased positivity energy!
3. Fighting Body Image Issues
In some way or other, everyone battles with their body image issues, we can often find ourselves obsessing over our bodies and looking a certain way. A gym is often a place people will turn to improve body image issues but it can also be a place that contributes to these issues.
Ever wondered why CrossFit gyms don’t have mirrors? CrossFit isn’t about what you look like, everyone is an athlete, appearance doesn’t matter – effort does. This take on body image and exercise is refreshing and something you will find in CrossFit gyms across the country.
When we stop fixating on what our bodies look like and more on our physical fitness and what our body can do, we can start to change negative body image issues.
4. Increase Mental Toughness
In the same way, we build a strong body, we also need to build a strong mind – mental toughness can help develop mental wellbeing. It is suggested that the only way to test mental toughness is to put yourself in a situation where you are pushed to your limit; many of us will experience this during a tough WOD!
Crossfit is the perfect arena to build mental toughness – that feeling when you are ready to give up but keep powering through those final few reps takes a lot of willpower, it makes us put mind over matter to get to the end of a tough workout. Ultimately, building mental toughness contributes to greater confidence and as we have discussed this has a positive impact on our overall mental health.
5. Focus on the Intrinsic Motivation
Motivation is an obvious topic when we are discussing exercise, but it is also an important psychological factor that can be linked to the subject of mental wellness. There are two forms of motivation – intrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a certain behaviour or activity as it is personally rewarding and extrinsic motivation, in which you engage in an activity or behaviour to gain an external reward or get something back in return.
Intrinsic motivation and self-determination are at the heart of CrossFit, you take part in CrossFit to better yourself not to win an award or first place. The culture of CrossFit lends itself to this intrinsic behaviour such as recording your PB’s and times in WODs for your own benefit and not that of others. This focus on intrinsic motivation helps build our self-confidence and self-worth.
What Our Members Say…
Jo has been an ION member for 5 years, she is a true inspiration and great example of how CrossFit can have a positive effect on both our physical and mental health, here is Jo’s story…
‘There’s no denying the physical changes that being a member of ION has enabled me to achieve. What these photos don’t show is the mental health improvements this place has also given me. After going through a difficult time, joining this wonderful place made me able to manage the struggles of life and all it has thrown me.
It’s not just a gym to me, it’s so much more and joining was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m fitter, healthier and most of all am happier than I’ve ever been. With the wonderful coaches and the hugely diverse group of members who go from complete beginner up to professional athlete; everyone supports each other and it’s a community I intend to be a part of for life’.