Regardless of which field of social work you specialize in, chances are you’ll encounter clients who will need guidance related to their personal lives. Whether you’re working as a child/family/school social worker or helping recovering addicts at rehab facilities, your primary job is to help people overcome societal and lifestyle challenges so that they can become the best versions of themselves. Social and emotional tools are a must, but fitness can help enhance these tools. While many social workers tend to focus strictly on the literal problems presented by their clients, it may also be beneficial to recommend extracurricular activities that aren’t directly related to developing a mental solution. Of course, exercise, meditation, and studying are the best activities for strengthening the mind and body, but the first of those might just be the most important, and here are 3 reasons why:
1. Overcoming Negative Habits and Thought Processes
While studying for an online masters in social work (MSW), students will notice that mental health and family dynamics are primary topics of study, with most branches of social work stemming out from there. However, it is a well-established fact that poor physical health can lead to and exacerbate a wide range of mental illnesses, so addressing physical health is equally important as assessing the client’s past or current mental/emotional obstacles. In fact, some of the best MSW programs online emphasize the importance of encouraging physical rehabilitation to increase the chances of a positive psychological outcome.
2. The Correlation Between Mental and Physical Health
Studies have shown that exercising daily improves mood, prevents depression, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps to prevent a variety of degenerative and age-related diseases. Thus, it’s no coincidence that people who suffer from depression have worse physical health than those who do not. This is just one example illustrating that depression and similar disorders are largely circumstantial and/or related to poor physical health. By encouraging clients to exercise, you’ll help them improve their image, boost self-esteem and rebalance their bodies to give their minds an optimal foundation for rehabilitation.
3. Building Discipline and Work Ethic
Committing to an ongoing exercise regimen is almost guaranteed to be a challenging process for anyone who isn’t currently in decent shape. The battle of getting back into shape often refines a person mentally and helps them achieve a level of clarity and focus that they’ve never experienced before. Such a transformation is sometimes all that’s needed to push the person in the right direction with the rest of the problems they’re having in life. Although this might sound like enforcing a boot camp upon your clients, in reality it only takes 20-30 minutes per day of moderate exercise to elicit impressive results within a matter of weeks.
Strengthening the Body to Build Mental Resilience
As you can see, the above tips all revolve around the fact that a person tends to become mentally tougher as they become physically tougher. With all of these benefits in mind, it’s only right for social workers to inform their clients that exercising could help fix and prevent a lot of the negative emotions and situations they’re experiencing.