One of the many reasons people get fit and work out is because they are trying to get over something. Whether it’s something from the past that’s haunting them, overcoming self-esteem issues, or using weights as therapy, physical health has been an outlet to help people with mental health issues for decades. Whether it’s obvious or subconscious, the effort that goes into workouts is doing as much for the brain as it is for the muscles.
Trina Clayeux, Ph.D., is the CEO of Give an Hour, a nonprofit organization focused on helping patients struggling with various mental health issues. According to her website, Give an Hour’s mission is to “build resilient people and communities.” They do not provide emergency services, but her efforts have helped many people overcome various mental barriers to new personal levels of success. In her work, Clayeux, who earned his Ph.D. In leadership studies, you’ve seen time and time again that the ties between physical and mental health run deep.
“When you can’t control parts of your physical health, your mental health starts to go downhill. That also works the other way around. When your mental health is going downhill, your physical health is usually close behind,” Clayeux said. Many of the patients that Give an Hour treats are veterans of the United States Armed Forces, and she can attest to the enormity of the issues that can be related to mental health and the lack of care given to her. dedicated
“I had a long experience working with the military for 20 years,” Clayeux said. “One of the biggest gaps in helping people was that there was a complete disconnect with mental health for them.”
Clayeux also shared that the military has been working to help bridge that gap with the transition that comes from active duty to retirement or discharge. It is worth noting that she is not only speaking from a professional point of view. She herself is the wife of a 26-year veteran, and that gave her an advantage when it came to helping other veterans in her professional life.
“With that came an adjacent view of the importance of physical health, which is widespread in the military, and an evolution of mental health catching up, to normalize.”
A misconception that many people have believed is that you have to focus on one before you get the other. Clayeux feels this is not the case, and his experience and knowledge of the field have confirmed those sentiments.
“As people in the [military] community has been connecting the dots between physical preparation and mental preparation, you really begin to see the synergy of the union and how they are interdependent on each other, “he explained. Other forms of validation that can verify this can be seen in the form of veterans and family members who have shared their stories at M&F, such as Melanie Branch, Charles Eggleston, Kionte Storey and Matt Cable. Clayeux herself also agrees to fit in. She has raced in numerous races, including completing an Ironman as well as a couple of half Ironmans.
“I’ve played sports my whole life and every year I learned a new sport,” he says. “Paying attention to the process outside of sport was important and helped me. That connectivity was a huge boost both mentally and physically.”
In addition to addressing mental health issues that date back to the past, Clayeux hopes that athletes, veterans and everyone else will look forward and focus on physical health and spend time on the mental health aspect because an injury can happen anywhere. moment. Being mentally prepared can make a big difference in recovery.
“Being able to be prepared by leaning on a mental health professional rather than a reaction site helps,” Clayeux suggested. “You can look at it a little differently so you don’t give up your mental and physical goals.”
A need to train body and mind
It can be very easy to focus on a practice or a game and not pay attention to anything else. While this is great for the physical component, the mental health aspect also needs training, and training or performance is a good time for that. Clayeux offered a way to do just that without taking time away from the session he’s in.
“When you are physically active is a good time to pay attention to thoughts and feelings,” he said. “Look for signs of emotional well-being that come with that activity. Some of that could be going out with friends, feeling more energetic, feeling less stressed, etc.
Clayeux feels that this can go far beyond the personal self of a veteran. Focusing on emotional well-being while training or being active can take a toll on the immediate community.
“That physical activity and emotional connection can improve not only your well-being, but it will also affect those around you.”
When it comes to mental health, Give an Hour helps connect veterans and others to a variety of resources that can help directly in their area. This includes various programs, counseling and more. While there are options for people who need them, Clayeux feels that much more can be done.
“A lot of it is because these mental health providers need access to these populations,” he shared. “Each community has its own culture and its own nuance. Even the bodybuilding community has its own ecosystem and language. It is very important that providers are exposed to that and know what really works within a community.”
knocking down obstacles
The biggest barrier for many people, including veterans, is not knowing what to do. Current members of the military and veterans are literally trained to be in top physical condition and focus on the task at hand while being aware of what might happen. It may not even be a diagnosed mental adversity like PTSD that’s holding them back. For many, they do not feel worthy of improving themselves. To do so would be selfish in their minds. Another point Clayeux wants to emphasize is that not only can they give themselves the grace to focus on self-improvement, but it’s actually a form of self-responsibility that they should have. Dr. Trina Clayeux feels that this may go far beyond her personal self. Focusing on emotional well-being while training or being active can take a toll on her immediate community.
“That physical activity and emotional connection can improve not only your well-being, but it will also affect those around you. When I have a really stressful day, the best thing I can do for myself is go for a run or go to the gym. I realize how much better I perform when I come back. You have to put the effort into the change or the routine.”
How can veterans do that for themselves? They can apply the principles they learned in service to their lives today. PT was a requirement that came with the job of serving. Dr. Trina Clayeux wants veterans to make the same commitment to physical and mental wellness now because she knows doing so will put them in the best position to succeed for themselves and their loved ones.
“I make certain things non-negotiable, and fitness is one of them. I have seen it in my life, and others will see it too, practice is very important because of the compound effect.”
To learn more about Give an Hour, or to register as a provider through them, visit www.giveanhour.org.