Seven Things Gyms and Psychiatric Hospitals Have in Common
There is often a lot of confusion and fear when encountering something new. Walking into a gym the first time puts people in an environment that's strange and uncomfortable. What should you do? How should you act? I didn't realize how awkward it could be, until I experienced it myself. It all started with a call from a friend I'll call Pam.
Pam was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. She didn't let anyone know until after a few days had passed. Then she reached out and asked friends and family to stop by. What I learned over the next few weeks and visits, was a huge surprise.
I discovered there are actually many similarities between a gym and a mental hospital. Here are the top seven ways they compare and what you can do to get the most out of visiting either one.
The reason many people go to a psychiatric ward or a gym is often because of a doctor. You get a diagnosis, you need help and your doctor suggests a course of action. Sometimes people go on their own, but more often than not you go because you've been told or suspect there's a problem.
Walking in for the first time can be a little scary. There are all sorts of rules to follow and they can be confusing. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed. Ask questions and realize that most of the staff are there to help you. They will help you get familiar with how to do things. The fear will quickly fade as you get into a routine.
Once you start, you'll realize there's often more than one course of action you can pursue. Some people do better in group therapy or group exercises classes while others like the highly personalized care that's available with one-on-one sessions. That doesn't mean you're limited to one or the other. You can take a hybrid approach. Mix and match individual and group sessions as needed. Let the results help guide you.
For some issues, medication may be the only option. Not every problem can be fixed with sweat and determination. Just make sure you're getting any prescriptions from medical professionals and you're taking them as prescribed.
Use the time there to your advantage. Yes, showing up is half the battle, but you also need to do the work. You can't expect things to improve on their own. Participate in your recovery and try the different programs that are available to find what works best for your particular situation.
Be careful taking advice from other patients or members. It seems like everybody has an opinion on what it takes to get results. Unfortunately much of the advice you hear is wrong, and some of it's downright dangerous. Ask the experts what they think, don't be afraid to get a second opinion and be extremely wary of unsolicited advice. Especially if that advice is accompanied by a sales pitch for something.
Don't worry about what other people are thinking. Most people are more worried about what YOU think of THEM. When one of my friends started going to a gym, he was a little over 300 pounds and incredibly self-conscious. For the first few months, he was sure everyone else was silently judging him every time he showed up.
Then something remarkable happened. Someone that worked out at the same time went up to him and said, "I've watched you come in regularly for weeks. You've worked hard and the results are starting to show. Seeing how dedicated you are has helped inspire me to do better. I just wanted to thank you for that." My friend wasn't being judged, he was being admired.
The ultimate motivation behind walking into a gym or a mental hospital should be the same. Do it to improve yourself and come out stronger in the end. Are you ready to commit... yourself?
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