Having launched the blog series ‘Getting to Grips with’ last month I have been blown away with the response and the experiences people are sharing to help discuss and normalise the conversation surrounding mental health.
Get A Grip would like to launch the series by sharing Noels contribution.
Name: Noel Brown
Occupation: Project Manager
How would you best describe or define fitness?
Fitness is the trained capability of the body and mind to cope with challenges.
What exercise, sport or fitness regime do you partake in and how often?
CrossFit – 5 times a week
Cycling – twice a week
Running – once a week
Various military physical training activities as part of my Army Reserve work.
When did you start to experience mental health problems if at all?
I have not experienced serious mental health problems, but like many people I have experienced periods of stress and feeling ‘down’.
Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment when you realised you had to make a change and how did your transition into exercise and fitness come about?
During my school days I played a lot of sport but when I went away to university I hardly did anything for my entire first year; I also drank a lot of alcohol and ate awful food. When I returned home after my first year I realised I was having problems sleeping and very strange dreams because I had stopped drinking alcohol. I also had holiday job labouring and realised that I was much weaker than I had been the year before so I when I got back to university I joined a gym and cut down on the amount of alcohol I drank and ate much better. Following university I also took up running in addition to strength work in the gym in order to get fit for joining the Army, and ever since then I have been very keen on exercise. I think one of my main motivations was a feeling that since I am short I needed to work harder than others to be competitive and excel in such a physical environment.
What impact has exercise and fitness had on your physical and mental health?
Fitness really helps me deal with stress and challenging times. From getting away for an hour’s training during university studying in the run up to finals, to commanding a team in Afghanistan I found that I can stay performing at my best and happiest when I take time out to do physical training. I also think that without knowing I was fit I would not have had the confidence to begin a career in the Army, and certainly not to be a leader! Since leaving the Army, taking up CrossFit has fulfilled the gap left in beating physical and mental challenges in a team and I have particularly enjoyed the feeling of being part of a tribe. I feel that CrossFit has really helped me cope with a really hard year I’ve had in my personal life.
Any future fitness goals or targets?
Compete in individual team and CrossFit competitions; be strong, fit and flexible well into old age.
Any final words of encouragement or advice for anyone struggling with mental health issues?
I am passionate about encouraging people to talk about their feelings rather than waiting until things snowball into big issues! I think we’d all be surprised to know how open our friends are to listening and trying to help.
These submissions will continue to be rolled on social media and the website blog to continue the movement to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. If you would like to make a submission, then please directly message the page or email email@example.com
Remember this series is also open to blog writers/people who have a mental health story to share even if it is unrelated to fitness. It doesn't even have to be about you. Sharing your experience of seeing a friend, colleague or loved one’s journey with a mental health challenge is also encouraged.
Anonymous submissions are also welcomed if you are more comfortable with that avenue at this stage of your own or loved ones mental health journey.
BECAUSE THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD CAN BE HEAVY