The matter of mental health
As we wrap up month six of the COVID pandemic, we are all feeling strained and stressed to the maximum. We have hit a collective wall and are feeling drained after months of constant readapting and reinventing ourselves and our lives to stay healthy and keep those we love healthy as well. As a the owner of small business, wife, and mother of a young boy age 6, I can assure you that one of my greatest challenges is maintaining my mental health through all of this.
Post-partum depression and its aftermath
There are a vast variety of mental health illnesses present in society. I feel comfortable referring to the one I have personally experienced and that is post-partum depression and anxiety (PPD&A). After a traumatic experience birthing our son and a long recovery period, I realized right around month three that the emotions and thoughts I was coping with were not healthy. I sought out help. First I got started with medication and then I started weekly therapy with a wonderful perinatal mental health worker who helped me slowly pull myself out of my dark and scary cave. Like I shared earlier, our son is now 6. But the scars of having experienced PPD&A are with me to this day and will accompany for as long as I live. I take medication to help manage my baseline and on occasion have received support from therapy. Another tool I have continued to use throughout all this time is MOVEMENT and in particular, PILATES.
What is it about Pilates specifically that helps?
From my personal experience I would say that there are several aspects of the practice of Pilates that are beneficial for anyone experiencing mental health issues. First of all there is an intentional awareness of the role BREATHING plays in every exercise we practice. Movement cannot happen without breath; indeed life cannot happen without breath! Spending a window of time connecting to your breath and moving from your breath, helps soothe anxious thoughts and feelings and calm the mind.
In Pilates we also have to FOCUS. Every exercise requires our full attention in order to execute them with precision. When our mind is focused on the task at hand, it is less likely to roam and think of the endless checklist waiting for us at the end of class. It also allows us to go inward and notice the nuances of our bodies.
Another important factor in the practice of Pilates whether virtually or in-person is CAMARADERIE. Mental health issues can cause some to self-isolate. Self-isolation can be problematic under normal circumstances and even more so now when we are being extra cautious about social contact. Feeling a connection with other members in your Pilates class and showing up for each other is one way to tackle feelings of loneliness.
The power to change
Joseph Pilates himself wrote that, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” It’s so true! He also said, “Change happens through movement and movement heals.” Again, he couldn’t have been more accurate. If you feel stuck, depleted, depressed, anxious, stressed, or anything of the like, try moving your body. You can always start small and build from there. Maybe today all you can bring yourself to do is walk around a couple of blocks in your neighborhood. That’s ok. You can slowly work your way up. No need to rush.
And if you are looking for a supportive community to practice Pilates and feel its healing effects in your body, mind, and spirit, call us today for a FREE consultation. We would love to meet you! 562 477 9650 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org