The Benefits of Personal Fitness for Depression

Depression and Personal Fitness
Physical activity, exercise, and personal fitness are recognized as fundamental tools for reducing the impact of chronic diseases, including depression.

Mental Health is a crucial aspect of the health and wellness industry and it is often overlooked. It can be hard to maintain physical health, when mental health is lacking or deteriorating. The two pillars of health uplift individuals to living balanced and happy lives. Around this time of year, paired with the looming pandemic, personal trainers may have trouble making sure their clients are staying physical and happy if they are falling victim to the clutches of depression. We want to supply you with tips and tricks to uplift your clients, and maybe even yourselves, during these trying times!

Social Distancing Can Make Working out Hard

The current pandemic has forced us to listen to government officials and their suggestions of physically distancing ourselves from others outside of our household. When you go out, it must be for essential business, and even if you do go out you must wear a mask and continue to social distance. This lack of human contact can tend to make someone feel stuck in a monotonous routine leading to a sense of hopelessness. It’s natural. As humans, we’re so used to going out and experiencing the touch of another or a conversation in which we can experience a full range of emotions on another's face. Now we’re left with blank faces, if we manage to encounter a stranger during our process of distancing. With all this being said, depression can fill in the spaces of your clients life where activity and purpose were supposed to dwell.

First things first, it’s crucial you listen to your client. Your client has been closed off from the world and you may know that feeling so be sure to project a sense of empathy. Empathy is key, because the last thing your client wants from the person who is supposed to be guiding them on their health journey is a patronizing tone. A sense of not believing or sensing how they are feeling. Suggest they reach out to friends via video chat or distanced gatherings if that is permitted within their municipal governments. It would even be nice to dedicate some time in your sessions to just catch up and get to know them on a personal level. There’s no need to be just ‘strictly business’ with your clients, but instead speak to them on a personal level and maybe even be a sort of professional friend. These short moments may cut through the distance they have been feeling. Ask them how their day has been, how their week has been, and if they have any plans for the following days. Who knows what things you may have in common that will lighten their mood.

Loneliness and Fitness

Another factor that plagues a clients motivation to exercise is grossly caused by the social distancing we spoke of above. This emotion that hammers at their goals is loneliness. Loneliness can make people not want to move, and unfortunately continue to stay isolated. This issue is similar to the social distancing issue in ways that are not hard to grasp, but maybe hard to deal with. It may be easier to look at as more of a symptom than a cause of certain issues. It’s rare that someone is just perpetually alone, as opposed to feeling lonely, but as of late, it’s hard to decipher the two when they’re so jumbled together.

A good thing to do is to listen to your client and begin to identify things they can do to alleviate this sense of loneliness. Right off the bat, it is proven that exercise boosts endorphins in the brain and makes people feel a bit more relaxed or happy. Like we said, this may not be such a quick thing to convince someone, so step by step is key. “I’m sad”...”Go run three miles”. Yeah…that probably won’t work. If exercise isn’t always on their mind then use anything that may help them manage stress or anxiety in order for them to be able to hop into their regular fitness routine. This can be a walk or even yoga. You and your client know what is best for them so talk through the situation and see what they can do. Some clients like intense cardio and some love bodyweight training, find out what makes them happy and work with that. It’s important that through all of this, they manage to get up and begin to work at something whether it is small or big to get their mind off things.

How Exercise Can Help Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a killer. What is social anxiety? Well, it is something that happens to people when they get an intense sense of anxiety when they have to be around others or communicate with them. For some it is severe and for others it is not that intense. This is disregarding how constant the social anxiety is or if it is just triggered by a certain situation. The bottom line is, your client is finding it hard to socialize or communicate with others, including you and themselves.

What should you do if your client has social anxiety? This can be tricky especially because you do not want to be too aggressive as to not have your client go completely AWOL on you. If someone is anxious as it is, they do not want someone badgering at them to meet their goals right this second. This may work for many, but not for individuals with social anxiety. Be delicate. Let your client understand that you know they are having trouble and you are there to help. Suggest some exercises they can do and let them know to do it at their own specific pace when they are ready. Aside from regular exercise, suggest any sort of de-stressing techniques that are different from their regular activity.

A great go to de-stressing technique is meditation. Meditation comes in all shapes and sizes. A lot of people may be turned off by meditation because it can be a bit intimidating to sit in a dark room surrounded by candles and humming chants- but surprise- that is not the only way to meditate. Meditation can be just sitting still and counting to twenty with purposeful breaths or even just taking a moment to themselves and acknowledging their surroundings. Whatever the technique is, whether it’s journaling, watching a movie, or meditating, make sure your client is taking the time to take care of themselves and work through their social anxiety.

How The Time Change is Affecting You?

Daylight savings time is something that truly has affected everyone, whether they are on a fitness journey or not. Every year around this time we change our clocks and it seems to get dark earlier than ever. This change in daylight psychologically affects us and it is not uncommon for season depression or a general sense of uneasiness to set in. The best way to describe it, is it just feels different. For many, they see the day time as a time of progress and work, while the night is left for relaxation and energizing for the next time the sun rolls around. It’s natural to feel...well...weird. As the moon appears earlier and the neighborhood gets dark, many clients may feel a general sense of restlessness. Their lives are going through a change and on top of the way it affects them mentally, it can also take a toll on their sleep schedule which in turns starts a cycle that eats away at them.

First things first, listen up. Ask them how they’re feeling and hear them out. Take the time to even relate to them because chances are you may be feeling the same which may not be easy. Let them know you’re on the same page which will make them feel comfortable. If you were to use an approach that basically tells them to “deal with it”, they may get more discouraged by the effects of the time change. The goal is to inspire them to adapt to change and that will work if you are on their side. A great suggestion would be to set up a plan for which they can go to bed and go easy. Maybe give them a nightly exercise at a certain time everyday that will in turn program their brain to know that it’s time for a short work out and then bed. If the work out requires a specific level of intermediate energy, this will also force them to be tired and they’ll want to start going to bed early. All of this will be working towards their goal of adapting to the times.

Finding Time To Workout

It is holiday season and that means your clients will probably be revolving their schedules around many holiday themed events. Gatherings, gift exchanges, dinners, shopping, family zooms, etc. This may be a happy time for clients, but this can have a tendency to be a bit overwhelming. It’s not always the most fun thing to be jam packed with holiday get togethers especially if someone is not used to that. Not only can this make clients exhausted, but it can also clutter their schedule and make them feel like they are dedicated to much of themselves to others needs. The chaos ensues and clients may feel like working out is last on their list. Some may see that as their last worry, but others may get stressed and feel like they’re losing progress.

Let them know that this is okay. You yourself have a chaotic schedule as well so it’s good to let them know. Get their mind off things and when they’re ready ask them what they’re schedule may look like. Work around them! If they have a family dinner see if they could meet in the morning or at any time they’d like. The goal is to let them feel comfortable and less stressed about their chaotic schedule. Another option is to reassure them that it is okay to not completely focus on fitness. Guess what! The holidays should be joyful, not stressful. Embrace the chaos and maybe try to lessen that load. Maybe you can plan to meet up with them and pick where you left off when they’re schedule is less cluttered. Figure out what is easier for them. If they feel like they have to work out but can not find the time, make the time for them. If they feel like working out will get in the way of their scarce family time, set up a later date and create goals to get them back on track when the time sees fit.