From going to therapy to disengaging with toxic social media accounts, health pros share how they take care of their emotional wellbeing.
Five Philly fitness instructors, including yoga teacher Adriana Adel, share why prioritizing their mental health is a necessity. / Photograph by Joanna Nowak Photography.
We hear it time and time again: taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. Yet, though we proudly share our fitness achievements like conquering our 100th spin class or holding crow pose for the first time when it comes to discussing mental health in social circles, feelings of hesitation and fear can arise.
Luckily, these days theres been a lot of positive movement in openly discussing mental health and emotional wellbeing. While in the past there were stigmas around discussing therapy and many media sources perpetuated stigmas surrounding mental health now, more and more people are talking openly about these issues. Theres also a rise in people intelligently using social media to dispel myths and talk about mental health in productive ways.
To help stimulate more conversation, we turned to five Philly fitness pros who are open about their mental and emotional wellbeing on Instagram. Below, they share how they prioritize their mental health and use their platforms for positive change.
BWP: Why is mental health care a priority for you? Adriana Adel, yoga instructor at Three Queens Yoga and Maha Yoga: When my mental health is off track, it affects my other areas of wellbeing, making it more difficult to easily access things like joy, pleasure, and true rest. Sometimes my diagnosed anxiety and depressive tendencies take a toll on my spirit. Ive slowly learned that when I do proactively care for my mental well-being I feel greater flow, more connection to purpose and self, and experience feelings of resiliency, rather than those of less-than-enoughness. Caring about my mental health helps me curate and cultivate the energy I want to offer myself and, in turn, offer to others.
Larkin Silverman, co-founder of and instructor at Lumos Yoga & Barre: I consider teaching yoga and group fitness an act of care-giving, and if I dont have the capacity to care for myself, I cannot hold that space for my clients. If and when I experience professional burnout or am struggling to not bring what weighs me down into my work, it can lead to resentment of my workplace, my coworkers, and my clients, and directly impede my capacity to do my work. Just like insufficient nutrition and adequate sleep are essential to my overall functioning and health, my mental health is a critical piece of experiencing a sense of overall wellness.
When did you realize your mental health is just as important as your physical health? Alexis Rose Artis, CEO of ARX Fitness and spin instructor at SoulCycle: About one week after I had my second daughter [at 31 years old], I started experiencing a disconnection the smell of her made me nauseous, her cry made me angry rather than worried, and I couldnt bear to hold her. The next day, I went into my closet, closed the door, called my older sister, and cried. I was so embarrassed. She came to my house and stayed an entire week to help. I waited two years to tell my husband of my postpartum depression, not because I didnt think hed be supportive, but because I needed time to navigate my own feelings and emotions which I learned, as a rape survivor, comes with time. From that day forward, we promised each other we would always put our mental health first and never judge one another.
Alexis Rose Artis, CEO of ARX Fitness and spin instructor at SoulCycle. / Photograph courtesy of ARX Fitness.
Emma Barrera, spin instructor at City Fitness: When I was 18, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It changed my entire life. If I want to stay stable and healthy, I need to be taking care of myself properly every single day. Ive come to describe it as a permanent cold in my head. If you have a cold, you go grab some over-the-counter medicine. The medicine I take just helps that cold in my head.
Morgan Dowd, trainer at Unite Fitness: I didnt fully accept this until about March of last year. This was the first time I asked for help on my own. At that point, I was nine years into recovery from anorexia and exercise bulimia, and four years into my fitness career. For so long, I believed that once I was weight restored and physically healthy, things would just fall into place. Even though from the outside I was in the best shape of my life, I was still incredibly fragile mentally. I was triggered easily, still had a lot of disordered eating thoughts, and was having panic attacks almost daily. I woke up one morning and decided I didnt want to navigate my mental health alone anymore. If my job is to help others be their best selves, then I had to help my whole self, too.
Morgan Dowd, coach at Unite Fitness. / Photograph courtesy of Morgan Dowd.
What resources, services, and/or practices do you utilize to take care of your mental and emotional well-being? Adel: Therapy! I have a really amazing therapist who was referred to me by a friend. I highly suggest folks ask their circle for recommendations for therapists because its so important to find a therapist who you can connect and be open with! Ive had more than a few false starts with therapy and at the time I thought it was my fault (cue another spiral of anxiety), when really it was just a round hole, square peg situation from the start. With that said, therapy isnt financially accessible for all, but sliding scale services are available. Plus, there are a lot of resources out there for self-education and introspection, from therapy Instagram to books and podcasts (Im listening to one right now on the nervous system and self-regulation thats pretty digestible and actionable).
Artis: I say no more often, take one day per week where Im unreachable, limit my social media usage, and see a therapist regularly.
Silverman: Im a big proponent of therapy, though Im currently between providers (and I wont lie, facing new intake paperwork can be daunting). In the meantime, Ive found ways to make use of free or low-cost resources, and turn to my gratitude journal, mindful movement, and meditation to self-reflect. Ive also worked to more deliberately curate the media I consume by unfollowing accounts that make me feel shame, comparison, or dissatisfaction, and replacing with content from mental health-focused accounts and experts.
Larkin Silverman, co-founder of and instructor at Lumos Yoga & Barre. / Photograph courtesy of Larkin Silverman.
While discussions surrounding mental health have progressed and become more present on social platforms and in social circles, a stigma still seems to exist. Why do you think that is? Dowd: I am certainly glad that mental health is being talked about, but I think social media doesnt show the full, real picture of any persons life. It also plays a detrimental role in stereotyping certain issues. Not all eating disorders are rail thin, not all depression looks like someone dressed in black and crying all the time. I currently struggle with anorexia, anxiety, and depression, even though I might look fine and am able to maintain a normal life. The myths were taught make it easy to downplay certain issues and not ask for help because they dont fit the mold. The more people ask for help and misconceptions are dispelled, the more we push back against the stigma together.
Adel: As a black girl growing up, I remember my pain around disordered eating and depression being dismissed because those were white people problems. That comes from not only cultural conditioning, but also issues in wider representation of who is portrayed as having (and therefore is allowed to have) mental health disorders, who can seek help, and what that help looks like. I think theres also just straight up fear fear of being judged, fear of being labeled, fear of the unknown. But in order for there to be a change, we have to start with ourselves. Id love to see a world where folks talk about their mental health struggles and wins as easily and with as much applause and encouragement as when people talk about their goals in the gym.
Who or what has helped you most in being transparent about your mental health care and journey with others? Barrera: I live by the mantra, Crazy is a concept. Those four words have guided and helped me along my journey. I am not crazy because I live with a mental illness. No matter how insignificant the voice in my head tries to make me feel, I [know I] am still worthy of kindness and love.
Emma Barrera, spin instructor at City Fitness. / Photograph by The Shine Studio.
Artis: When I first was prescribed Xanax for anxiety and depression, I was so worried how it could impact my image. Then I quickly remembered how I overcame the embarrassment of being a rape survivor that theres actually nothing to be embarrassed about. Look at me now! Im a blessed, strong, smart, beautiful queen who has a testimony to share. Thats my why and thats my superpower. My daily mantra: If not now, when?
Want to hear more from us? Join Be Well Philly at: FACEBOOK|INSTAGRAM|NEWSLETTER|TWITTER
The rest is here:
5 Philly Fitness Pros Open Up about Their Mental Health - phillymag.com
- Mental health professionals offer suggestions to those suffering with stress, anxiety - Olean Times Herald - March 25th, 2020
- How can I tell if my child has mental health issues and what can I do to help? - Nevada Today - March 25th, 2020
- Mental health clinics and organizations alter offerings | Forest Lake Times - ECM Publishers - March 25th, 2020
- West Texas community mental health partners offering in-person and telehealth services - MyFoxZone.com KIDY - March 25th, 2020
- Coronavirus and mental health | Local - The Baytown Sun - March 25th, 2020
- Tips to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic - WTOL - March 25th, 2020
- Participants Needed for Online Study on Social Distancing and Mental Health - University of Arkansas Newswire - March 25th, 2020
- Experts: Use the time to better your mental health - WWL News, Talk, Sports Radio Station - March 25th, 2020
- Maine mental health workers brace for spike in clients whose lives 'may never be the same' - Bangor Daily News - March 25th, 2020
- This startup is tackling the hidden mental health impacts of cancer - Wired.co.uk - March 25th, 2020
- Wasatch County Council Hears Reports Regarding Mental Health Services And The School District - KPCW - March 25th, 2020
- Coronavirus: six ways of turning anxiety into positive mental health habits - The Conversation UK - March 25th, 2020
- Surprising ways parents can maintain their mental health while working from home - AZ Big Media - March 25th, 2020
- Why your mental health may be suffering in the COVID-19 pandemic - PBS NewsHour - March 25th, 2020
- Snap rolling out Here For You mental health tool early with focus on coronavirus - The Verge - March 25th, 2020
- BREVARD COVID-19 UPDATE: Palm Point Behavioral Health Fully Operational and Serving the Needs of Our Community | - SpaceCoastDaily.com - March 25th, 2020
- 9 Mental Health Practices To Maintain (Or Begin) During The Coronavirus Lockdown - Forbes - March 23rd, 2020
- COVID-19 And Your Mental Health - University of Arkansas Newswire - March 23rd, 2020
- Companies are making mental-health care fast and accessible - New York Post - March 23rd, 2020
- 'Wake up, millennials: Now is the time to prioritize your mental health,' therapist says of coronavirus pandemic - CNBC - March 23rd, 2020
- Using video conferencing for mental health consultations - Swinburne University of Technology - March 23rd, 2020
- Mental health professionals share insight into coping with COVID-19 - Pine River Times - March 23rd, 2020
- Mental health professionals finding new ways to care for patients - WBAY - March 23rd, 2020
- Keeping up with mental health during a time of uncertainty - WIFR - March 23rd, 2020
- Is there a right way to worry about coronavirus? And other mental health tips - The Guardian - March 23rd, 2020
- How working from home during coronavirus affects productivity and mental health - Vox.com - March 23rd, 2020
- Coronavirus and the state of your mental health - WGAL Susquehanna Valley Pa. - March 23rd, 2020
- Failure to address coronavirus mental health issues will prolong impact | TheHill - The Hill - March 23rd, 2020
- Don't forget to take care of your mental health as well during the COVID-19 pandemic - News 5 Cleveland - March 23rd, 2020
- Stay active during isolation: Help maintain your physical and mental health during COVID-19 period - KSN-TV - March 23rd, 2020
- Social distancing can take a toll on mental health: Anybody can be affected by this - WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee - March 23rd, 2020
- What you need to know about maintaining your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak - Boston.com - March 23rd, 2020
- 8 mental health tips to weather the coronavirus crisis like a pro - Cyclingnews.com - March 22nd, 2020
- COVID-19 in Minnesota: Mental health resources to help get through this tough time - FOX 9 - March 22nd, 2020
- Reframing the narrative: How to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic - Northwest Herald - March 22nd, 2020
- Containing The Coronavirus Pandemic Seriously Threatens Our Mental Health: Here Are 5 Strategies To Protect Yours. - Forbes - March 22nd, 2020
- Mental health tax lays foundation for improving health outcomes in Winnebago County - Rockford Register Star - March 22nd, 2020
- MENTAL HEALTH: Medical experts give advice on how to stay healthy amid uncertainty - KTTC - March 22nd, 2020
- When Home Becomes The Workplace: Mental Health And Remote Work - Forbes - March 22nd, 2020
- Get outdoors, create routines and ask for help to maintain mental health while practicing social distancing - Summit Daily News - March 22nd, 2020
- Fayetteville mental health professionals offer tips for dealing with COVID-19 related anxiety - The Fayetteville Observer - March 22nd, 2020
- How to make mental health a priority during the coronavirus pandemic - ESPN - March 22nd, 2020
- How to maintain good mental health amid social distancing and working from home - KTIV - March 22nd, 2020
- Coronavirus and mental health: Anxieties spike amid Bay Area's isolation - San Jos Spotlight - March 22nd, 2020
- Here's how to take care of your mental health during isolation, according to a mental health expert - wtvr.com - March 22nd, 2020
- We can't leave those with mental illness, addiction disorders behind | TheHill - The Hill - March 22nd, 2020
- Questions about mental health treatment to be removed from Michigan bar exam next year - Lansing State Journal - March 22nd, 2020
- Snodgrass Says Residents Mental Health Issues Are Top Of Mind - HighRiverOnline.com - March 22nd, 2020
- Social recession: how isolation can affect physical and mental health - The Guardian - March 22nd, 2020
- Mental health agencies gear up for increased coronavirus-related workload - 13abc Action News - March 22nd, 2020
- Senate passes bill to boost mental health care access - Lowell Sun - February 14th, 2020
- Could mental health support be the key to keeping more Colorado preschool teachers in the field? - The Colorado Sun - February 14th, 2020
- Mental health care is vital to routine health care - The Boston Globe - February 14th, 2020
- "This is an emergency": Whistleblower says Olympic Committee needs to do more to address mental health - CBS News - February 14th, 2020
- Therapy program seeks outreach to improve mental health of refugees - The Daily Orange - February 14th, 2020
- Lululemon exec: Mental health is the 'next major step in our journey' - Yahoo Finance - February 14th, 2020
- Parkland shooting: Race is on to teach kids about mental health - Palm Beach Post - February 14th, 2020
- How are RAs prepared to address mental health? - The Stute - February 14th, 2020
- Incarcerated Teens Struggle With Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues. This Is How One Teen Found His Way Through - Colorado Public Radio - February 14th, 2020
- Climate change and the toll it takes on our mental health - The Hill - February 14th, 2020
- In Eastern Washington, young children needing immediate mental health care often have few options - Pacific Northwest Inlander - February 14th, 2020
- Bridgeview Mental Health Center moving to new location in Clinton with no bus route - KWQC-TV6 - February 14th, 2020
- Overland Park takes first step toward creation of mental health task force - shawneemissionpost.com - February 14th, 2020
- Garden City man accused of killing uncle will undergo mental health evaluation - Idaho Press-Tribune - February 14th, 2020
- Snapchat will now offer mental health tools in the app - MIT Technology Review - February 14th, 2020
- PM News Brief: Rep. Curtis And The ERA, Youth Mental Health & Timing An Olympic Bid - KUER 90.1 - February 14th, 2020
- Bayfront to close Intensive Outpatient Behavioral Health Program in Punta Gorda - Wink News - February 14th, 2020
- Study Reveals "Mental Health Crisis" in U.K. Film, TV Industries - Hollywood Reporter - February 14th, 2020
- My patients dont separate their physical and mental health. Medicare must stop asking us to - The Guardian - February 14th, 2020
- Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker - The Boston Globe - February 14th, 2020
- By the Book: The Glass Eye and writing about mental illness - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - February 14th, 2020
- The Championship and a talk about mental health Football Weekly Extra - The Guardian - February 14th, 2020
- Neglecting your mental health could affect your heart health - WQOW TV News 18 - February 14th, 2020
- Doctor Who's Awkward Mental Health Fears Reaction Explained by BBC - Screen Rant - February 14th, 2020
- New Mental Health Certification Will Help Create Healthier Workplaces - Forbes - February 7th, 2020
- Soaring higher: Congratulations to LHU's mental health counseling program | News, Sports, Jobs - Lock Haven Express - February 7th, 2020
- Vaping ordinance and youth mental health are now top goals for Mountain View City Council - Mountain View Voice - February 7th, 2020
- Cries for help on Twitter linked to spike in mental-health hospitalisations - Yahoo Sports - February 7th, 2020
- Other states starting to follow Massachusetts' lead on bar exam, mental health - Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly - February 7th, 2020
- Stress Less: Tech Companies In The Mental Health Space Are Finally Going Mainstream - Forbes - February 7th, 2020