Want Good Mental Health? Then Get Ready To Move The Mind
If you want a healthy life you are going to have to keep moving. Movement is just as important for the mind as it is for the body. As a Child and Family Therapist I attempt to assist people when they get stuck, and frankly sometimes they need a bit of a kick in the backside to get them going.
Recently a successful professional couple came to my office as they were concerned about their son. They could not get him to do anything, and they were worried he might be depressed. They could not get him to clean his room, or go to school or put his dishes in the dishwasher. Initially I thought they were describing their teenage son, but it turned out that their son (let’s call him Jason) was 24 not 15. Jason was 24 and still loving in his parent’s basement without a job or enrollment in school. Before we dig deeper into the situation with Jason let’s look at the first principle of the MORE philosophy which is “Movement.”
Without movement, life is stagnant. We feel alive and vital as long as things are moving. When things get “plugged up” there is pressure. Life is like a garden hose: if there is an obstruction or knot in the hose, the water cannot pass through and the pressure builds to the point that it eventually bursts. There needs to be flow and movement. In comparison, think about a pool of water without movement; in essence, it becomes contaminated and even dangerous. Water is the essence of life and essential to humans, but water that is stagnant for a long period of time can become filled with bacteria that are harmful to us.
The principle of movement is the same for us, emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically. Water that has movement is vibrant, refreshing, and brings us life. We use it to nourish and cleanse our bodies, as well as to play and celebrate. Intrinsically, humans are drawn to the movement of water in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Every summer we find ourselves packing our picnic and toys, and heading out to the nearest body of water.
Our bodies, our spirits, and our minds are not meant to be sedentary, without movement. When we experience movement in our lives, we celebrate and feel refreshed and invigorated. In every aspect of our human experience, we are built for movement. Therefore, if we do not provide movement for our minds, we create problems. We either shut down or we spin around on the same old information.v
To understand the importance of movement, let’s take another look at Jason. Everything about Jason indicated his life should be exceptional. He did very well in high school, is tall and handsome, his parents are wealthy, people find him charming, and he was always told he had so much potential. This young man is now twenty four and undoubtedly highly intelligent, but he was still living in his parents’ basement without a sense of purpose or movement. He was also unable to find a job or a school program that held his interest. Why is this happening?
Through the years he was told how smart he was, but he has always feared that he could not live up to those expectations. He does not feel he deserved the marks he got in high school as he never really tried, and he has now failed several of his post-secondary courses, as he did not attend class or even open the textbook. He finds himself frustrated with the smallest of things, including his parents’ endless promptings to do something with his life. In essence, he is spending less and less time with friends and family, as he does not want to explain why his life looks the same or worse than it did five years ago. Instead, he prefers to spend most of his time on his computer, and feels that his virtual world is much more interesting than the real world. This is happening because there is no movement in his life and Jason is stuck!
When we think about Jason living in his parents’ basement without any progression in his life, we know he is getting depressed and disconnected. His thoughts are increasingly negative and he is critical of himself and others. He has taken himself out of “the game” and does not want to participate, but his thoughts are increasingly toxic to him. The mind, just like the body, must move; without direction, the mind begins to twirl and swirl over the same things, particularly if we do not provide it with new information and stimulation. This is where the bacteria of the mind can begin to develop.
Jason’s parents were encouraged to set limits with Jason and stop doing everything for him. Part of the problem was that they were rushing in to protect him all the time. Eventually Jason had to deal with some reality checks and he did begin to participate in counselling. Both his parents and he received some encouragement and “butt kicking” (otherwise known as reality checks) and he has begun to make progress as step by step goals have been laid out in which he is held accountable for the movement. He also gets to enjoy the sense of competency and accomplishment when he achieves a goal. Once this movement began he gained energy and a new momentum. Jason is making progress because he is experiencing movement in his life. His parents have learnt to encourage him when he experiences an obstacle, rather than save him and thus curtailing the movement in his life.
As stated before, thoughts and feelings without movement can become toxic, limiting us and keeping us away from what we need. Consequently, movement is essential to our life and health. There is no exceptional living without movement.