Mental Health: The Hidden Impact It’s Having On Our Habits And Health
Have you ever wondered how a person’s childhood impacts their health as an adult? A lifetime of exposure to negative behavior comes with its own consequences. Millions are battling mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and abandonment to name a few. It may seem unrelated to fitness until we open a dialog about obesity, eating habits, exercise, and health.
Behaviors and patterns we exhibit now are a direct result of how our lives have transpired. Trauma, for instance, can have a life changing impact that could lead to mental health concerns and negative habits. Binge eating, using sugar and food as a drug, and the inability to feel motivated, have energy, and exercise are just the beginning of symptoms. Fitness professionals may come into contact with individuals who are struggling to achieve results and may think it’s due to laziness, not trying hard enough, inconsistency, and just not being motivated.
If someone is experiencing symptoms of depression, for example, they may not have energy, willpower, and motivation to do anything. They may struggle with exercise and remaining consistent as a result. Other mental health related issues may result in other behaviors like substance use or abuse and professionals must remain aware that client’s may struggle with achieving their results because of issues like these.
It’s become easier for professionals to take to social media to condemn those who are overweight and don’t eat right or look a certain way. It’s also become natural to engage in “call out culture” and to try to “hold them responsible”. While the goal at heart might be to push someone toward making positive change it may lead to shame and could plunge them further into risky behavior.
An example of research covering this area can be seen from the ACE study. The acronym stands for the “Adverse Childhood Experience”. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) ACE study uncovered social and emotional issues in adults and connections between chronic diseases and childhood trauma. The study used a questionnaire that measured ten types of common childhood traumas. Half of these childhood traumas are personal and the other half are related to family.
The study looked at various forms of abuse (physical, verbal, emotional neglect etc.) to behaviors by family members (e.g. alcoholism, mental illness, divorce etc.). Each type of experience counts and the higher you scored on the ACE the more likely you are to experience chronic disease and for social and mental health related conditions to develop.
Professionals aren’t counselors and urging client’s to seek help may come off as offensive. Where at all possible the appropriate work must be completed to help clients understand how their current status affects their habits and shapes their health in the long run, but this must be done with respect for both parties.
While we’re on the subject of habits and food, it’s important you understand how our intake impacts our health. You may not be a counselor, but you can do your due diligence to help educate others about the foods they consume and how they impact their health. Our CEC/CEUs cover a variety of topics for fitness professionals including exercise science, female health and older adult fitness.