I [Jay Dee] have become very passionate about mental health and how exercise and mindfulness can play a huge positive impact.
Mental illness runs in my family. Schizophrenia, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder - these are all things I've seen in my family and have even experienced some of it myself.
When I moved to NYC [from 2012-2014] I went through a tough time mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally.
Gilbert Chesterton said, "one sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak". In this valley was where I saw my proverbial peak.
Without knowing it, I was healing myself by getting back on the rowing machine. You see, once I moved and ran out of cash my motivation to workout withered away. I became sluggish - mentally and physically.
It negatively transcended my relationship to my then girlfriend, my energy towards others [I was trying to network a lot to find a job], and my relationship with myself.
Gratefully, through getting back in better shape, building confidence back up, and working my tail off, things turned out for the best and I was able to receive my "MBA in Life" as I like to put it.
To tie my personal anecdote and what we are doing at Manna to a recent study I read, researchers at Rutgers University have found that focused-attention meditation [this can look like the breath-work we do] in combination with aerobic activity [we achieve this with rowing and our strength and bodyweight training], and having a large element of effortful learning [we are all learning how to row :)] can "maximally increase the integration of networks involved with cognitive control and learning to those necessary for autonomic nervous system regulation."
Depression is living in the past, whereas anxiety is living in the future.
With these three elements i) focused mental presence, ii) physical activity, and iii) intent and effortful learning you can help stave off mental illness, be in great physical shape, look HAWT, create NEW neurons in the hippocampus, and regulate your autonomic nervous system.
THIS IS HUGE.
One of our crew, Breia, has been showing me some incredibly powerful breathing and focus techniques, I hope to share more with you all as I learn more and have Breia share.
Betsy and Jon, friends from our pals at Crossfit Beach Fitness, have both shared with me that they have rarely missed a day of physical exertion in their 50 or so trips around the sun.
And they are BOTH HAWT :)
Make these things a priority and your body and mind will thank you.
Here's a snippet from the study that I thought synthesized things nicely:
"Antidepressants are not the only depression-related therapies known to increase neurogenesis. Most notably, aerobic exercise can greatly increase the number of cells that are produced in the hippocampus. Animals given the opportunity to run on a daily basis can produce nearly twice as many new cells as sedentary controls.7, 8, 9 Importantly, however, these new neurons are not necessarily permanent. Even under ‘healthy’ conditions, many of these new cells can die within several weeks of being born, often before differentiating into mature neurons.10 Nevertheless, many of the newly born neurons can be rescued from death by new learning experiences and they may even be involved in learning itself.11, 12"
I believe the last element that this study out of Rutgers is missing is "community". A sense of belonging. In my 12 years of crew I've never felt like I wasn't with a family. I'm starting to feel that with our crew and can't wait to see us all grow together!
Jay Dee and Thomas