Psychology of the Self and Impacts of Exercise on Mental Health

Including exercise in our everyday life can significantly improve not only physical but also mental health, and it is therefore recommended to integrate and observe it as a way of life.

The way a person perceives physical exercise largely determines whether they consider it desirable and good or they ignore it. Furthermore, social relationships within a group contribute to persistence or resignation from exercise. Perceived success and self-efficacy sense significantly affect the increase in intrinsic motivation for exercising, and an increasing good mood.

In addition, the perception of others about the person doing the exercise is significantly more positive as the “practitioners” are seen as positive in society. Such positive perceptions of others can be particularly beneficial when it comes to other life situations, because if people are aware that others see it as an invitation and experience people that exercise as role models, they are more motivated in other aspects of their life.

It’s fact that exercise has a positive effect on each individual, it’s equally true that people are different from each other and that this motivation to create a certain impression depends on the characteristics of each individual person.

Personality traits and exercise

Personality is a set of traits and mechanisms within the individual that are organized and relatively durable and affect the interaction and adaptation of an individual to the intrapsychic, physical and social environment, so that the motivation to leave a certain impression and motivation for the construction of that impression are part of self-presentation. They represent an attempt to establish control over what impression people leave on the environment. People with low self-esteem in this process are at risk of developing social anxiety.

Social anxiety

Social anxiety arises from actual or anticipated evaluation by others and is a result of the strong need to create a certain impression and, at the same time, low expectations regarding achieving that goal.  The main characteristic of social anxiety is the fear of negative evaluation. The situation that raises the strongest anxiety is one that involves formal speech and interaction: speech in front of the audience, meetings etc. The second category refers to situations involving informal speech and interaction: going to parties, meeting with strangers, etc. The third category covers interactions that require expressions of disagreement, talk with authority, etc. The last, fourth category includes situations where a person feels socially anxious when others are observing, and when he or she must perform an action, such as eating, doing or writing.

Common to all these situations is that they cause people to worry about how other people will evaluate them. Furthermore, in those situations, how the anxiety situation manifests are largely determined by social norms. The structure of a society can be a source of stress and regulator of an individual’s reaction to those stressors.

Motivation and wellbeing

Individual differences play a key role in determining the perception, assessment, and self-assessment of an individual. Therefore, consideration of how personality traits affects motivation, and the impression, also clarifies the determinants of social anxiety, which is important because self-evaluation skills are of utmost importance for participation in exercises, choice of activities as well as choice of environment, sport performance and positive attitude about yourself.

Narcissistic personalities and wellbeing

Narcissistic personalities act at full of confidence, and are actually extremely vulnerable, vulnerable to every criticism and prone to a sense of shame. Failure to realize great ideas results in mood changes and narcissistic rage with a strong sense of emptiness. They have a strong need for others to recognize their abilities, but they are also deeply envious of all other people. They are often very sensitive, they can work a lot and thus achieve success and admiration, which is in fact their fundamental motivation for work.

Perfectionism is meant as a personal style characterized by the aspiration to infallibility and the setting of exorbitant high standards of performance, followed by the tendency of excessive criticality.

People who are perfectionists often measure their own value in terms of goals that are impossible to achieve. Perfectionism is traditionally conceptualized as a one-dimensional construct that has been shown to be a factor of vulnerability for psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, nutritional disorders and reduced self-esteem in numerous studies.

Narcissuses are at first glance accessible and sympathetic, leaving a good first impression. They are talkative, but they talk a lot about themselves. At the same time, due to the tendency to express disagreement and controversy that is greater than their self-confidence is strong, they have difficulties in maintaining such a reputation. They are reliant on impulsive behaviour that brings short-term success and reward, but it has long-term negative consequences.

Exercise and mental health

Exercise is a physical activity of greater intensity than everyday physical effort. Despite the strong emphasis on exercise as a key factor in maintaining optimal health, a very small percentage of people are actively involved. New knowledge of the physiological effect of exercise on the mood enabled further development of the theory and the emergence of psychological hypotheses.

Social environment mainly encourages physical exercise to achieve the ideal of beauty or physical health. However, there are more frequent programs that encourage physical exercise to also maintain mental health.

How much the environment affects the decision and perseverance of an individual to join and maintain a physical exercise depends on several factors: the personality traits, gender, the importance of physical exercise for the individual and his confidence and the characteristics of the group. Groups with high cohesiveness report the most powerful mood swings. The cohesion of the group increases when the group moves towards the same goal. Exercise groups are joining in improving and preserving physical and mental health. The more cohesive the group is, the greater the feeling of belonging to the group.

Understanding physiological processes is necessary to further understand the relationship between exercise and mood. Although the positive impact of exercise on the mood is unquestioned and multipurpose, a small percentage of people perform the minimum recommended exercise per day. The reason is that the effect of exercise is not immediately visible, both physically and mentally.

It requires time and effort to invest in exercise. Given that this effort is currently not rewarded (the absence of disease is not immediately apparent, as well as changes in physical appearance and mood) people quickly give up. As physical exercises differ from individual to individual as well as physical readiness, it is necessary for everyone to find the right approach and type of exercise to increase motivation for their performance.

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