CrossFit and your mental health

Written by Margaret Joseph

Believe it or not, it isn’t all about PBs and building muscle but creating a sense of well-being and maintaining good mental health. We have all felt a sense of dread when we look at the demands of a particularly challenging workout but how pleased do we feel after we have completed it in the company of fellow CrossFitters who so often provide much needed encouragement?

Take a look at the NHS Choices website and advice on stress, anxiety and depression where Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says that when we talk about mental wellbeing, we mean more than just happiness,

“It’s useful to start with the idea that overall wellbeing involves both the mind and the body
because physical and mental wellbeing are closely related. Think about what you’ve done in the past to promote mental wellbeing, and whether it worked. Then think about new things that you can try. Remember, no-one can give wellbeing to you. It’s you who has to take action.”

It is interesting that the advice suggests there are five steps to mental wellbeing; connect, be active, keep learning, give to others and be mindful. I believe that these reflect CrossFit and the community of Glevum perfectly. We are always learning new skills from our knowledgeable coaches. We communicate and connect with those around us especially when we complete strength work or workouts with a partner. We encourage, are mindful of and give to each other constantly, particularly when things get tough. There is banter, friendly competition and challenges. Who doesn’t enjoy the pre and post workout chats with people who have become our friends?

I know that since I became a member of Glevum I have achieved results that I never dreamed I could do. However, it is the interaction and the support of coaches and fellow athletes that has given me more confidence, lightened the ‘dark’ days and allowed me to clear away fears and anxieties. I know I am not alone in having these feelings and others have their worries and trials. I have worked out alongside them and seen how the exercise and challenge has helped to clear their minds during the toughest of times.

Many of our members work in critical professions where they have to make life-changing decisions. Others run complex businesses and face difficult situations, have driven miles in the early hours of the morning or have organised the children for school. We are many and various and need to feel well, happy and important. Whether you attend classes before or after work, in the morning, evening or during the day – many members work shifts – Glevum provides respite and challenge. It keeps us fit, active and creates a sense of mental wellbeing.

If I had my way and I was Health Secretary, CrossFit would be on prescription!