Ways Mental Stability Can Affect Your Happiness

Stabilizing your mental health can mean a variety of different things for every individual you may encounter, but what everyone can agree upon is that the ultimate goal of stabilizing your mental health is to manifest a better, more fulfilling, and overall-healthier quality of life… And who doesn’t want that?!

Stabilizing your mental health can also, unfortunately, be difficult if circumstances such as genetics, brain chemicals, or unfortunate and difficult events are present in an individual’s brain or life.

Whether societies want to face it or not, the overall happiness and sense of well-being of the average person is incredibly more dependent on their emotional health and mental stability than on any other factor- even money or material possession! So of course, one would eventually come to the conclusion that that stabilizing your mental health should come before anything else and that it has a direct correlation with someone’s daily sense of happiness. For, without a sound mind, you really won’t be able to participate in life to your fullest capability.

As Clark Layard importantly states in his book Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy, “Mental pain is as real as physical pain. It is experienced in the same areas of the brain as physical pain and is often more disabling. Yet these two types of pain are not treated equally. While nearly everyone who is physically ill gets treatment, two in three of those who are mentally ill do not. If your bone is broken you are treated automatically, but if your spirit is broken you are not.” – Layard, R., Clark, DM. (2015) Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy. Penguin Books.

But what exactly does it mean to be “mentally stable”? And possibly more interestingly, what is and what causes “mental instability”? It seems to me that when people are more mentally stable, their social lives thrive. They feel a general and more-frequent sense of well-being. Some would even consider mental stability synonymous with being without – or having an absence of – a mental illness.

Adversely, when someone is deemed “mentally unstable” by society it, in general, means that their moods, feelings, and/or actions are consistently unpredictable (hello, oxymoron!). It’s rightfully assumed that these individuals are not as happy overall because they are less able to organize, collect, or trust their own thoughts, actions, and feelings – the very symptoms of the label of being mentally unstable. This is (very) often due to some type of mental illness, such as an addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and much more. (So, yes, mental stability is linked with the absence of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders, amongst many more human psychological maladies!)

Sometimes, psychological unevenness can also be caused by devastating or challenging circumstances that are brought upon an individual (which, of course, is a part of every person’s life). Being mentally stable and becoming mentally stable if one is feeling imbalanced can mean different, more specific things for everyone.

What Signs Are Linked With Being Mentally Stable?

Generally, people who are considered mentally stable and emotionally healthy have a number of positive traits in common.

Signs that someone is mentally and emotionally stable:

  • A sense of being in control of their personal thoughts and actions
  • A sense of (general) well-being
  • Friends and family are generally confident in the individual’s ability to care for themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  • They are able to stay consistent and present in their work, family, and social lives
  • They have hobbies that they enjoy and that fulfill them
  • They have a loving, nurturing, and supportive relationships in their lives
  • They are free from being consumed or controlled by a substance or a behavioral addiction
  • They contain a fairly exceptional set of coping skills in which assist them in dealing with troubling emotions or troubling situations that may arise in their life

Each mental illness that can cause someone to be mentally unstable has its own distinct and specific symptoms. However, some signs that someone is not mentally stable include:

  • Emotionally turbulent days filled with perhaps tumultuous ups and downs
  • Reliance on addictive substances
  • Exhibitions of addiction or eating-disordered behaviors
  • Excessive worrying
  • Problems concentrating
  • Appearing easily angered or irritable
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Legal troubles

At the end of the day, saying that someone is mentally unstable is usually just the same as saying someone is struggling. This term shouldn’t be used with a negative connotation because it’s important that we treat mental, emotional, and spiritual illnesses with the same conviction and determination that we treat physical sickness in this country, just as Clark Layard states in the excerpt above. With a stable mind, a stable and more fulfilled life will undoubtedly follow.

So, How Do Happiness And Mental Stability Relate In Social Terms?

Every person we meet every encounter we have in our relationships is simply a reflection of ourselves and our emotional, mental, and spiritual place. When you are mentally stable and in control of your thoughts and actions, able to trust yourself, and have a generally high sense of self-competence and self-confidence, you are better able to create, establish, and maintain a larger and deeper variety of stable human relationships and connections. You’re able to trust others because you can trust yourself. Your relationships are more stable because your mind is more stable and more set on the grounds of reality (rather than sporadic and perhaps imbalanced brain chemicals that cause a warped perception and view of the world). We are social creatures. If something like Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, or Addiction is getting in the way of our ability to healthily relate to other people, there can be grave consequences on the state of our contentment in life.

As Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, states in an article for fastcompany.com

“As members of a social species, we derive strength not from our rugged individualism but from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together. Our neural, hormonal, and genetic makeup support interdependence over independence.”

When we are suffering from a mental illness (and our brain chemicals are abnormal or imbalanced) or when we are going through a period of time that is overwhelming us, we are sometimes gravely unable to relate to others, communicate well with others, and stay present in our relationships. It has been proven over and over again that humans are social creatures- more powerful and efficient in numbers and consistently hungry for the endorphins released when we receive physical or emotional affection from another person.

If mental instability is often linked to our brain chemicals going “haywire” or not firing correctly in general, this can cause an inability to be present in our lives and relationships and can largely alter our perception of our realities (usually, not for the better). It is evident that our struggle with a psychological rollercoaster will affect our overall happiness.

Video Transcript
“So my mom and dad still refer to me to this day as a bit of a pain in the backside, and probably for good reason. How many parents have we got in here? Give me a quick wave. Oh, there are loads of you, ok. What I was, was a hyperactive child. I drove my parents up the wall with my endless amounts of energy. I wouldn't sleep, I needed constant attention, and no matter what my parents seemed to do, I wouldn't rest. A few of you are nodding, sorry about that.
My parents had no idea what to do with me so they took me to the family doctor to see if there's anything that he could do. Now I'm not sure what available labels there were back then but the family doctor labeled me as a problem child. He said to my mum dad, “If you can't cope with Leon I can always take him off your hands and sedate him.” He then proceeded to share with them some other drug-related interventions that they might want to consider.
For whatever reason, my mum and dad balked at this. They decided that they would find another way. So they gave me a way to other people. Mom and dad's friends and family, but that didn't work because everyone got very busy. They were left, my mom and dad were left, with their problem child at the end of their tether.
You know there's a picture of my mum and dad on their wedding day. They look young, healthy, vital, and there's a picture of the three of us less than two years later and they look like they have aged 25 years. So my parents decided to fight fire with fire. They decided to attempt to tire me out. That's where my life of activity started, way before I can even remember.
I was swimming from day one. I went to mother and baby gymnastics before I was 1-years old. That turned into tumble-tots. I was taking part in any physical activity that was available and every sport that I was able to do at the age that I was at. Magical things started to happen. I became easier to manage and I'm glad my parents went down the physical activity route because my dreams of going to the Olympic Games started when I was six years old. I watched the Olympic Games on TV in 1984 and I told my dad then that I wanted to go to the Olympic Games.
I used to get the Guinness Book of World Records at Christmas and I would write down, in my best handwriting, my time next to the world-record holder to see how many minutes I needed to take off. I'm glad my parents went down this route because when I was 9, or just before I was 9, I started diving. That was one of the many sports that I tried but actually, within a short space of time, it was clear that diving was the sport for me. Ultimately I followed my Olympic dreams by way of the sport, diving. Competing at 3 Olympic Games and even winning an Olympic medal in 2004 and none of that would have been possible if my mom and dad hadn't chosen physical movement as my medicine.
It's widely known the negative effects of inactivity on someone's physical health and the associated risk of disease but what's really concerning me is the link between inactivity and someone's mental health. Now can I just check with you here today in London just by a show of hands, how many of you know someone close to you who has suffered or is always suffering with, in some way, their mental health. Just give me a quick indication. Wow! Pretty much every hand went up. This is a huge issue today.
In a recent index of over 300 diseases, mental health problems were the largest cause of the overall disease burden worldwide. Here in the UK, a 2016 official survey showed that nearly 20 percent of those 16 and over are suffering from symptoms of either depression and/or anxiety. There's a huge percentage of the population who don't necessarily have a diagnosable mental health problem but who are suffering with their mental health. It seems that stress and overwhelm are so commonplace in today's society and although stress, in itself, is not a mental health issue, it's often the starting point for many.
Could you imagine what our world would be like if we had very few mental health issues? What would it be like if we could drastically reduce the number of people who are suffering? Well, I believe we can. I think there's something that we can do even more of, and is simple. I'd like to argue that we spend too much time stuck in our heads and not enough time in our bodies. Thinking isn't necessarily the solution to our problems, thinking is often the cause, especially when we get stuck in a pattern of overthinking. Overthinking leads to psychological stress and according to the World Health Organization, stress is a global health epidemic.
So, what can we do? We can move more, we can physically move because physically moving changes absolutely everything, and when I say everything, I mean our experience of the world and what else is there?
Fascinating things happen biochemically in the brain when we move. The first thing that happens when we begin to move physically; the human nervous system recognizes this as a moment of stress because it thinks you're about to fight or flee from an enemy and in order to protect you, your brain releases a chemical, a protein, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. A fancy name for BDNF. In short, BDNF prepares the brain, protects the brain, and it also plays a key role in creating new neurons specifically in the hippocampus area of the brain. Alongside this, another chemical is released. One that you may be more familiar with, endorphins. Endorphins are often attributed to the high that we feel after moving physically but their role is to dumb down any discomfort that we might encounter from fighting or fleeing from that enemy. So essentially, it's the chemical mix of BDNF and endorphins which explains why things are often clearer and we feel more at ease after moving physically. But how does this show up in the real world? How do we experience this?
Well, moving physically, in the short term, immediately changes our state. It immediately changes our state, it boosts our mood, and it releases the buildup of stress in our human nervous system. Over the long-term, consistent physical movement changes the structure of our brain, it boosts self-esteem and decreases the biological reaction to psychological stress.
Psychological stress is clearly the enemy to our mental health and it's physical movement that is one of our best weapons to respond. This isn't new, Cicero who was around over 2,000 years ago, arguably one of Rome's greatest orators, said this, “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor.” And he was right. It seems more applicable now than ever.
There's a whole body of research showing that movement is an effective intervention on more serious mental health issues. In 2013 there was a study on depression that showed that meditative movement, in this case, yoga, chi gong, and tai chi, were effective in reducing symptoms of depression in all participants. In that particular study a few years later a separate study showed that regular yoga practice as an intervention, and it must be regular, was effective in reducing the severity of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In some cases, so much so that PTSD diagnosis was no longer valid.
A different type of movement intervention was used to combat anxiety disorders. It was shown that aerobic exercise, actually was a fantastic intervention for those who were suffering from anxiety. When they experienced a physiological change that they are fearful of, for example; an increased heart rate, when it's through aerobic exercise, helped make the fight/flight response and made their stress system less reactive and therefore building a resilience and a tolerance to such symptoms resulting in; infrequent, less frequent, and less intense anxiety episodes.
Finally, Fritz and O'Connor in 2016 showed that 20-minute sessions of medium intensity exercise successfully reduced symptoms in those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. That's certainly reflective of how movement was used as an intervention when I was younger.
So what would happen if we reclaimed our mental health by moving more? Well, there's two actions that you can all take; the first is when you find yourself in a context where you're stressed, whatever that is, maybe you're hunched over the laptop, maybe it's a completely different context. When you're stressed, you're poisoning your body. There's chemical changes taking place. Your cortisol is going through the roof. Adrenaline's going through the ceiling and if you don't change that. You're poisoning your body. The thing that you can do is get up and go for a walk if that is available to you. If you're physically not capable of that, even just changing your posture and the rhythm of your breath is enough to change the chemicals in the brain and move you from stress, more towards wellness.
The most important thing here is that we disrupt this constant pattern. We disrupt the buildup of stress and do this as often as we can. The second long-term solution is a challenge. I challenge you to find your movement, your physical movement. Poor activity doesn't matter what it is, but there's something very important at play here and I learned this the hard way. So, clearly diving was my movement and you'd think that someone like me, who's to train for seven hours a day six days a week, would be one of the most mentally well people around because of all of that movement. But that wasn't the case in my experience.
In the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney I ended up fourth and I knew that I couldn't get any closer to my dreams. That next year things started to go south. I had a reconstructive shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. After seven months of painstaking rehabilitation I made it back to fitness only to have to go under the knife once again for a second shoulder reconstruction on that same shoulder.
I then fell into a ditch for the next eight months, life wasn't fair. I fell into a depression. I was training and training and training, obsessing on all of the details and doing exactly what I needed to do. I was stuck because something was missing. I hit rock bottom. I stood on a pool side away from the crowds with tears rolling down my face, my shoulders hunched, and I've given up because I've tried everything.
There is often a way, a point, where it turns around and it was my mentor that came up to me at that time and he gently put his hand on my shoulder and he asked,
“Leon, remind me, why do you do this sport?”
“Because I could enjoy it” I replied
“Well then why haven’t I seen you smile for the past eight months?”
And that was it! The reason I chose the sport in the first place, over all of the sports, was because I enjoyed it.
It was because of the stress and the pressure that I put myself in that I was stuck in a negative spiral. I made one change when I went back to training the very next day. I put a smile on my face, it was a forced smile to start with but that negative spiral very quickly started to go the other way. I found the joy in the movement.
Once every training session, every single dive, every single weight I lifted, I found that didn't make it easy but I found their joy in it and that negative spiral went the other way and I was back on track of my Olympic dreams.
So my challenge to you, this is not an exercise for exercise sake, this isn't forcing yourself to go to the gym, this isn't movement for movement's sake, but this is about finding your movement. The movement that fills you with joy. So I challenge you to be creative, walk, run, swim, dive, play tennis, kick a football, even head off to one of those early-morning sober Raves. They’re actually a thing, you should try them. Whatever you need to do but the magic ingredient here is enjoyment.
So what would happen if we moved more on and what is possible for movement as an intervention? Well, a number of years ago I was asked to work with a young man as an executive coach. I was to be his performance coach and on paper, things were looking amazing because he was a high flyer. Accelerating through a massive organization here in London. He was already almost at the top of the very tree. But in reality things were very different.
When I sat down with him, I discovered the things were very dark. He was suffering with bipolar disorder and he was under the care of a psychiatrist. Over the past five or six years the symptom severity of his bipolar disorder had slowly been increasing and therefore the medication he was on subsequently was being upped and upped and upped. He found himself to a point where it was tearing him, his young family, apart and he was right on the edge.
When we made one intervention I asked him, “What do you love to do movement wise?”
He proceeded to tell me a story about how he loved to run when he was younger, so he built a series of behaviors and habits around running. He started to go running frequently and before long, in a number of weeks, he'd already joined a local running club and this journey went on in six months down the line. He ran in his local half marathon with his wife, his children, extended friends, and family cheering him on the most momentous day. Over that period of time the symptom severity of his bipolar disorder had been reduced so much that he was taken off pretty much all of his medications. The side effects that were plaguing him had faded away and from a mental health point of view, he was in the best place he'd been for over a decade because running was his movement.
There's a beautiful quote that I'm going to leave you with from Thomas Jefferson who said, “Exercise and application produce order to our affairs. Health of body, cheerfulness of mind, and those make us precious to our friends.”
So in this world of stress, overwhelm, and overthinking, we need to get out of our heads and back into our bodies. We need to physically move more because if we don't, the children of this world will continue to model our behaviors of stress and inactivity and this mental health unwellness will continue to rise. So here today let's start a movement for movement! I challenge you to reclaim your mental health by finding your movement, the movement that fills you with joy, and do it as often as you can, thank you.”
Video Transcript
“So my mom and dad still refer to me to this day as a bit of a pain in the backside, and probably for good reason. How many parents have we got in here? Give me a quick wave. Oh, there are loads of you, ok. What I was, was a hyperactive child. I drove my parents up the wall with my endless amounts of energy. I wouldn't sleep, I needed constant attention, and no matter what my parents seemed to do, I wouldn't rest. A few of you are nodding, sorry about that.
My parents had no idea what to do with me so they took me to the family doctor to see if there's anything that he could do. Now I'm not sure what available labels there were back then but the family doctor labeled me as a problem child. He said to my mum dad, “If you can't cope with Leon I can always take him off your hands and sedate him.” He then proceeded to share with them some other drug-related interventions that they might want to consider.
For whatever reason, my mum and dad balked at this. They decided that they would find another way. So they gave me a way to other people. Mom and dad's friends and family, but that didn't work because everyone got very busy. They were left, my mom and dad were left, with their problem child at the end of their tether.
You know there's a picture of my mum and dad on their wedding day. They look young, healthy, vital, and there's a picture of the three of us less than two years later and they look like they have aged 25 years. So my parents decided to fight fire with fire. They decided to attempt to tire me out. That's where my life of activity started, way before I can even remember.
I was swimming from day one. I went to mother and baby gymnastics before I was 1-years old. That turned into tumble-tots. I was taking part in any physical activity that was available and every sport that I was able to do at the age that I was at. Magical things started to happen. I became easier to manage and I'm glad my parents went down the physical activity route because my dreams of going to the Olympic Games started when I was six years old. I watched the Olympic Games on TV in 1984 and I told my dad then that I wanted to go to the Olympic Games.
I used to get the Guinness Book of World Records at Christmas and I would write down, in my best handwriting, my time next to the world-record holder to see how many minutes I needed to take off. I'm glad my parents went down this route because when I was 9, or just before I was 9, I started diving. That was one of the many sports that I tried but actually, within a short space of time, it was clear that diving was the sport for me. Ultimately I followed my Olympic dreams by way of the sport, diving. Competing at 3 Olympic Games and even winning an Olympic medal in 2004 and none of that would have been possible if my mom and dad hadn't chosen physical movement as my medicine.
It's widely known the negative effects of inactivity on someone's physical health and the associated risk of disease but what's really concerning me is the link between inactivity and someone's mental health. Now can I just check with you here today in London just by a show of hands, how many of you know someone close to you who has suffered or is always suffering with, in some way, their mental health. Just give me a quick indication. Wow! Pretty much every hand went up. This is a huge issue today.
In a recent index of over 300 diseases, mental health problems were the largest cause of the overall disease burden worldwide. Here in the UK, a 2016 official survey showed that nearly 20 percent of those 16 and over are suffering from symptoms of either depression and/or anxiety. There's a huge percentage of the population who don't necessarily have a diagnosable mental health problem but who are suffering with their mental health. It seems that stress and overwhelm are so commonplace in today's society and although stress, in itself, is not a mental health issue, it's often the starting point for many.
Could you imagine what our world would be like if we had very few mental health issues? What would it be like if we could drastically reduce the number of people who are suffering? Well, I believe we can. I think there's something that we can do even more of, and is simple. I'd like to argue that we spend too much time stuck in our heads and not enough time in our bodies. Thinking isn't necessarily the solution to our problems, thinking is often the cause, especially when we get stuck in a pattern of overthinking. Overthinking leads to psychological stress and according to the World Health Organization, stress is a global health epidemic.
So, what can we do? We can move more, we can physically move because physically moving changes absolutely everything, and when I say everything, I mean our experience of the world and what else is there?
Fascinating things happen biochemically in the brain when we move. The first thing that happens when we begin to move physically; the human nervous system recognizes this as a moment of stress because it thinks you're about to fight or flee from an enemy and in order to protect you, your brain releases a chemical, a protein, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. A fancy name for BDNF. In short, BDNF prepares the brain, protects the brain, and it also plays a key role in creating new neurons specifically in the hippocampus area of the brain. Alongside this, another chemical is released. One that you may be more familiar with, endorphins. Endorphins are often attributed to the high that we feel after moving physically but their role is to dumb down any discomfort that we might encounter from fighting or fleeing from that enemy. So essentially, it's the chemical mix of BDNF and endorphins which explains why things are often clearer and we feel more at ease after moving physically. But how does this show up in the real world? How do we experience this?
Well, moving physically, in the short term, immediately changes our state. It immediately changes our state, it boosts our mood, and it releases the buildup of stress in our human nervous system. Over the long-term, consistent physical movement changes the structure of our brain, it boosts self-esteem and decreases the biological reaction to psychological stress.
Psychological stress is clearly the enemy to our mental health and it's physical movement that is one of our best weapons to respond. This isn't new, Cicero who was around over 2,000 years ago, arguably one of Rome's greatest orators, said this, “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor.” And he was right. It seems more applicable now than ever.
There's a whole body of research showing that movement is an effective intervention on more serious mental health issues. In 2013 there was a study on depression that showed that meditative movement, in this case, yoga, chi gong, and tai chi, were effective in reducing symptoms of depression in all participants. In that particular study a few years later a separate study showed that regular yoga practice as an intervention, and it must be regular, was effective in reducing the severity of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In some cases, so much so that PTSD diagnosis was no longer valid.
A different type of movement intervention was used to combat anxiety disorders. It was shown that aerobic exercise, actually was a fantastic intervention for those who were suffering from anxiety. When they experienced a physiological change that they are fearful of, for example; an increased heart rate, when it's through aerobic exercise, helped make the fight/flight response and made their stress system less reactive and therefore building a resilience and a tolerance to such symptoms resulting in; infrequent, less frequent, and less intense anxiety episodes.
Finally, Fritz and O'Connor in 2016 showed that 20-minute sessions of medium intensity exercise successfully reduced symptoms in those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. That's certainly reflective of how movement was used as an intervention when I was younger.
So what would happen if we reclaimed our mental health by moving more? Well, there's two actions that you can all take; the first is when you find yourself in a context where you're stressed, whatever that is, maybe you're hunched over the laptop, maybe it's a completely different context. When you're stressed, you're poisoning your body. There's chemical changes taking place. Your cortisol is going through the roof. Adrenaline's going through the ceiling and if you don't change that. You're poisoning your body. The thing that you can do is get up and go for a walk if that is available to you. If you're physically not capable of that, even just changing your posture and the rhythm of your breath is enough to change the chemicals in the brain and move you from stress, more towards wellness.
The most important thing here is that we disrupt this constant pattern. We disrupt the buildup of stress and do this as often as we can. The second long-term solution is a challenge. I challenge you to find your movement, your physical movement. Poor activity doesn't matter what it is, but there's something very important at play here and I learned this the hard way. So, clearly diving was my movement and you'd think that someone like me, who's to train for seven hours a day six days a week, would be one of the most mentally well people around because of all of that movement. But that wasn't the case in my experience.
In the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney I ended up fourth and I knew that I couldn't get any closer to my dreams. That next year things started to go south. I had a reconstructive shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. After seven months of painstaking rehabilitation I made it back to fitness only to have to go under the knife once again for a second shoulder reconstruction on that same shoulder.
I then fell into a ditch for the next eight months, life wasn't fair. I fell into a depression. I was training and training and training, obsessing on all of the details and doing exactly what I needed to do. I was stuck because something was missing. I hit rock bottom. I stood on a pool side away from the crowds with tears rolling down my face, my shoulders hunched, and I've given up because I've tried everything.
There is often a way, a point, where it turns around and it was my mentor that came up to me at that time and he gently put his hand on my shoulder and he asked,
“Leon, remind me, why do you do this sport?”
“Because I could enjoy it” I replied
“Well then why haven’t I seen you smile for the past eight months?”
And that was it! The reason I chose the sport in the first place, over all of the sports, was because I enjoyed it.
It was because of the stress and the pressure that I put myself in that I was stuck in a negative spiral. I made one change when I went back to training the very next day. I put a smile on my face, it was a forced smile to start with but that negative spiral very quickly started to go the other way. I found the joy in the movement.
Once every training session, every single dive, every single weight I lifted, I found that didn't make it easy but I found their joy in it and that negative spiral went the other way and I was back on track of my Olympic dreams.
So my challenge to you, this is not an exercise for exercise sake, this isn't forcing yourself to go to the gym, this isn't movement for movement's sake, but this is about finding your movement. The movement that fills you with joy. So I challenge you to be creative, walk, run, swim, dive, play tennis, kick a football, even head off to one of those early-morning sober Raves. They’re actually a thing, you should try them. Whatever you need to do but the magic ingredient here is enjoyment.
So what would happen if we moved more on and what is possible for movement as an intervention? Well, a number of years ago I was asked to work with a young man as an executive coach. I was to be his performance coach and on paper, things were looking amazing because he was a high flyer. Accelerating through a massive organization here in London. He was already almost at the top of the very tree. But in reality things were very different.
When I sat down with him, I discovered the things were very dark. He was suffering with bipolar disorder and he was under the care of a psychiatrist. Over the past five or six years the symptom severity of his bipolar disorder had slowly been increasing and therefore the medication he was on subsequently was being upped and upped and upped. He found himself to a point where it was tearing him, his young family, apart and he was right on the edge.
When we made one intervention I asked him, “What do you love to do movement wise?”
He proceeded to tell me a story about how he loved to run when he was younger, so he built a series of behaviors and habits around running. He started to go running frequently and before long, in a number of weeks, he'd already joined a local running club and this journey went on in six months down the line. He ran in his local half marathon with his wife, his children, extended friends, and family cheering him on the most momentous day. Over that period of time the symptom severity of his bipolar disorder had been reduced so much that he was taken off pretty much all of his medications. The side effects that were plaguing him had faded away and from a mental health point of view, he was in the best place he'd been for over a decade because running was his movement.
There's a beautiful quote that I'm going to leave you with from Thomas Jefferson who said, “Exercise and application produce order to our affairs. Health of body, cheerfulness of mind, and those make us precious to our friends.”
So in this world of stress, overwhelm, and overthinking, we need to get out of our heads and back into our bodies. We need to physically move more because if we don't, the children of this world will continue to model our behaviors of stress and inactivity and this mental health unwellness will continue to rise. So here today let's start a movement for movement! I challenge you to reclaim your mental health by finding your movement, the movement that fills you with joy, and do it as often as you can, thank you.”

A Word On Becoming More Mentally Stable

It is important that when you or someone you know is struggling with feeling mentally unstable due to mental illness or a period of severe trouble, the troubled individual seeks professional help. With a stable mind comes a healthy and balanced mind, more fulfilling relationships, the ability to be present in activities, a realistic perspective, better self-efficacy and self-esteem, and therefore a healthier and more balanced life.
Perhaps behavioral therapy will work for balancing out some individuals in particular situations, while for others medication may be the key to achieving more strength and security in their mental processes. For many, however, it is a combination of methods of both scientific and environmental changes that must be made in order for someone to reach their optimal state of thinking, feeling, acting, and being.