This morning at the gym I got into a brief conversation with one of the other regulars. He was moving a little slower than normal. So, I asked if he was alright. His response surprised me. After telling me the workout was feeling extra hard, he told me he also does jujitsu 4-5 days a week in the evening. “That,” he said, “I need. Working out is something I have to do, but jujitsu is like going to church for me.”
That last bit stuck me. I would have never described church as being something I need, but I knew exactly what he meant. At different parts of my life this need for me was filled by things like, music, improv, or art. Writing, and even the gym fill that role now.
It’s hard for me to accept the things I need. It makes me feel needy. Instead I brush them off as no big deal, setting them aside. After a period of time I start to feel outside myself. A little off, like something is wrong. When I’ve finally had enough of that I finally “go to church” - pick up my guitar, spend some time writing, lift something heavy - and the world falls back into place.
This is what I think people mean by taking care of my mental health.