The days are getting shorter and darker here in Toronto so this is a time of year where mood can easily go down and mental health can also go downhill. For a few years now, I have advocated to be more serious about getting exercise around the holidays and mental health is one more reason to prioritize workouts this time of year. Holiday parties may not be the same this year, but exercise still needs to be done to balance festive eating. I feel very grateful that the Adelaide Club and the Toronto Athletic Club are open.
There are some sayings that indicate diet is more important than exercise such as ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’ or ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. I like to eat what I want within reason, so I prioritize exercise and accept not having highly visible abs. At this time, exercise provides the additional benefit of elevating mood and improving mental health- go get some exercise!
I also highly recommend speaking with a mental health professional should you ever feel overwhelmed or need help to learn more coping skills for your life circumstances. Working with a therapist (Ashley Parsons) is one of the most beneficial things I have ever done to improve the quality of my life, you can find her here http://www.ashleyparsonstherapy.com
Best wishes for this festive season
This month, it came to mind many times how important it is to monitor and maintain our mental health. How can that be done? The practice of meditation gives us an opportunity to observe ourselves and our thoughts. If our thoughts are habitually negative, repetitive, obsessive or generally stuck on a loop(in the past or future)-it requires change, and the change may require the assistance of a professional should it prove challenging to make the change on our own.
Earlier this month, I heard the song Electric Love by BORNS and right away I thought of Gary Glitter Rock and Roll. I made a playlist with songs that had a similar drum and guitar line for my cycle class. In checking the song credits, I learned that Rock and Roll was featured in the movie Joker (which I had plans to see as soon as I learned I had just missed the premiere in Italy) and there was backlash due to Glitter being in jail for pedophile crimes. Glitter’s crimes were news to me and there is the view that his music should not be played, as that supports a pedophile in earning royalties. I had already made and shared the playlist for my class so I decided to go ahead and use the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues to child abuse and mental health, as we need every one to pitch in to improve the human condition.
I saw Joker last week and felt it was a well done film that provided a view of mental illness. There is a scene where Joaquin Phoenix in his brilliant performance as Arthur Fleck/Joker tells his social worker ‘all I have are negative thoughts’. While it is not possible to have only positive thoughts, it is an important practice for us to watch the nature of our thoughts and thinking:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
The above quote is credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and there are similar versions in the words of others. The practice is the same, we need to monitor our thoughts and thinking to steer in a healthy direction for our mental health.