When you think of lifting weights, the first thoughts that probably come to mind are the physical benefits, like “getting ripped” or “getting that six-pack.” We all know that exercise is good for you physically. However, it’s the incredible mental health benefits of lifting weights that far too often get overlooked. These benefits, including alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, are arguably more important than the physical benefits. Lifting weights has transformed my mental health in ways that I could have never expected, and I’d like to share my story.
I went through a pretty dark time during my sophomore year of college. I’ve battled anxiety my entire life, but this was a particularly difficult time. I was stressed out ALL the time, having relationship issues, and felt absolutely terrible in my own skin. I had zero confidence and was not only lazy but subsequently unhealthy. I was never one to enjoy going to the gym, however after accepting the invitation from a friend to try lifting weights, I never turned back. Lifting was the first form of exercise that I found fun. It truly is so important to find a form of exercise that you actually enjoy. I found a newfound love with lifting, and it was the best decision I ever made. It reduced my anxiety to the point where I am no longer on medication, and gave me my life back.
Here are 5 ways lifting weights can transform your mental health:
1. Creates a sense of empowerment.
There is nothing more satisfying than setting a goal, putting hard work and effort into it, and accomplishing it! Lifting gives you the ability to do this over and over as you crush your goals and see results. There is such a sense of empowerment and pride that comes along with this. It can shift your mindset completely and make you feel strong and ready to take on whatever life throws at you.
2. Time to focus on YOU.
For an hour or so a day, you are solely focused on yourself. Having uninterrupted time for yourself does wonders in clearing the mind. Lifting not only revitalizes your body, but, but your mind too. It can honestly be seen as a form of meditation. This increased ability to focus also manifests in different parts of your life – such as being more productive in your work day! You’ll feel more in-tune with your body, which helps to foster a more loving relationship with yourself. I’ve learned to be more mindful, and focus on myself in the present moment–allowing the stress of daily life to lessen dramatically.
3. Builds strong relationships.
Strengthening your body can also give you the tools and mindset to strengthen your relationships. Lifting pushes you to dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle, which can transfer to other parts of your life, including personal relationships! If you are lucky enough to have a friend or partner that enjoys lifting too, it really is a great way to bond. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who also respect and care about their bodies can help create closer and more supportive relationships.
4. Teaches you how to deal with problems.
To overcome large obstacles you must learn to overcome small obstacles. Many of the things that cause circumstantial depression and anxiety in your life are difficult or impossible to control. Lifting forces you to face something difficult head- on, and shows you that you are, in fact, able to overcome it. You deal with the pain, the discipline, and the difficulty of weight lifting, and find that this translates to other aspects of your life. You approach problems differently with less fear and more rationality.
5. Boosts confidence.
This one may seem obvious, but it is SO important. Although it may seem slightly superficial, looking good absolutely helps you feel good. You’re going to start gaining some muscle, losing some fat, and feeling a sense of pride. You’re going to feel more confident in situations that you would have otherwise felt uncomfortable, and be able to navigate these situations with faith in yourself.
Overall, lifting has changed my life in significant ways that I could not have imagined. It provided me with more meaningful life goals that have helped to motivate me and become a better person. I have seen a significant improvement in my anxiety levels and mental health in general, and I encourage you to give lifting a try!