Mental & Physical Wellbeing: The Parallels

Mental & Physical Wellbeing

You can’t run on a broken ankle. You can’t train with a cold. If you don’t eat, you won’t have the energy to exercise. We know it’s hard to stick with a training plan without someone to figure it out with and keep you motivated.

So why don’t we look at our mental wellbeing in the same way?

I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that we don’t learn about our mental health in the same way that we learn about our physical health when we are growing up. Looking after our physical, even though most of us know how to, can be difficult enough. The challenges around our mental health often arise from the fact that we simply don’t know how we can protect it, maintain it and even repair it when it starts to suffer.

My own experience was that, after being injured in Afghanistan, was that I understood the concept of physical recovery – I understood that I would need surgery, antibiotics, physiotherapy and a rehab plan. I could visualise recovery. I knew what it would look like and feel like; ultimately being able to walk again unaided.

But I didn’t understand the concept of psychological recovery; I couldn’t visualise it and didn’t know how to plan and measure it. I had no idea how to link together the separate elements of treatment to support and reinforce each other towards progress. It’s fair to say that there was a lot of trial and error.

And I think the cruellest irony is that the psychological injuries were far more debilitating than the physical ones. The sense of permanence – that things were always going to be like this – was far more paralysing than the temporary physical incapacitation.

You can’t train with a cold or run on a broken ankle.

You need to be healthy to train physically. You need to be well rested and hydrated, you need to have a good diet and most importantly, you need to be mentally and physically prepared.

If your body isn’t healthy then all of your training will go down the drain because when it comes down to it, your body is what powers everything else.

We also know that we are the only ones who can improve our physical fitness. Someone else can give us a plan, can encourage us, can run alongside us but they cannot ultimately go for a run for us.

And it was this realisation – that, despite support from doctors, psychotherapists and friends, only I could make the changes required to achieve a sustainable recovery from mental illness and protect my mental health in future – that gave me the ultimate incentive to put the effort into opening my mind in order to strengthen it.

If you don’t eat, you won’t have the energy to exercise.

It’s a fact: the only way to get energy is from food. If you don’t eat, you won’t have the energy to exercise. It’s as simple as that. So, if you want to be physically fit, it’s important to eat right—and that means eating foods that will give your body the best chance of thriving and meeting its physical needs.

So why wouldn’t we train our minds to be fitter and heathier in the same way? Again, we need to know what we’re dealing with.

We need to understand – and crucially act upon – what protects our mental health and what puts it at risk. Only then can we live our lives in a way that we can expect to be mentally as well as physically healthy.

It’s hard to stay motivated alone.

The most important thing you can do to succeed in your mental and physical wellbeing journey is to find someone to work out with.

An encouraging partner will help keep you accountable and motivated. Conversely, being around people who are sceptical may be disheartening. Choosing your company is one of the first steps to building your mental fitness.

A training plan is much easier when you have a specific goal in mind, so having a buddy who’s also working toward their own goal helps keep things focused on where they should be; on getting fitter mentally as well as physically.

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to injure yourself.

It’s important to know that your mental wellbeing is just as susceptible to damage as your physical health. Examples of how this can happen include, but are not limited to:

  • Not getting enough sleep, which causes you to be sluggish and irritable
  • Overeating, which leads to obesity and a higher risk of serious diseases including heart disease and diabetes
  • Using drugs or alcohol excessively in an attempt to escape reality or relieve stress

We consciously and subconsciously avoid physical risk in our daily lives, but too often ignore risks to our mental wellbeing such as screen time, alcohol, or late nights. 

We’ll be diving deeper into sleep and performance in this workshop.

You need to take care of your body, and your mind too.

In order to maintain a healthy mind and body, we need to take care of both, it’s a holistic ecosystem.

While it’s easy for us to focus on the physical side of wellbeing, mental wellbeing is just as important—in fact, for many people, it’s even more important. To look after our bodies, we eat well and exercise regularly; yet when it comes to our minds, we often don’t know how to start.

You can begin to explore what may work for you in this blog.

Our mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellbeing.

You need to treat your mind with the same thoughtfulness that you do your body, if not more so. It’s a holistic approach; maintaining both involves consistent effort over time—a little bit every day or week can make all the difference in how we feel about ourselves and our lives at home and in the workplace.

We designed the Genesis programme to give managers and teams the resources, structure and confidence to approach their mental fitness in the same way we would approach our physical fitness – little and often with key insight which equip us with the skills and knowledge to be able to take responsibility for the mental health of ourselves and others.

Find out more about Genesis here.

Written by: Olly Church, Co-Founder

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