The Synergy of Mind and Body:
How Therapy and Physical Fitness Enhance Expat Well-being in Barcelona

The Synergy of Mind and Body:\nHow Therapy and Physical Fitness Enhance Expat Well-being in Barcelona

As expats here in the vibrant city of Barcelona, we are faced with a whirlwind of new experiences and challenges. It can be exhilarating and exciting, but the new stressors such as facing the unknown and possibly feeling more alone, it's important to be aware of their impact on our mental and physical health. For this blog post, we've teamed up with Therapy in Barcelona Founder, Leigh Matthews to delve into the research-backed bidirectional relationship between mental and physical health. She explains how, for expats striving for a balanced, healthy life and peaceful life, a combination of personal training and psychotherapy is the perfect synergy for overall well-being.  


The Interconnectedness of Mental and Physical Health

The connection between mental and physical health is well-documented. The World Health Organization emphasises that mental health is integral to overall health. Mental health issues can manifest physically, affecting the immune system and increasing the risk of chronic diseases. Conversely, physical health significantly impacts mental well-being. Regular physical activity is known to reduce the risk of mental health disorders. A seminal study in The Lancet Psychiatry found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had 43.2% fewer days of poor mental health than those who did not exercise.


The Role of Therapy in Mindset and Mental Health

For expats in Barcelona, therapy offers a supportive environment to navigate the complexities of life abroad. Therapy in Barcelona provides English-speaking, psychology-trained therapists adept at addressing internationals' unique challenges. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)  have been shown to improve mental health significantly. A meta-analysis in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that CBT, in particular, is effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, which are common among expats. Othe effective therapies our team offer include Somatic Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Client Centred Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and many more. Meet the team and discover the therapies they offer here.


Physical Fitness as a Pillar of Mental Well-being

Attika Fitness in Barcelona underscores the importance of physical health in supporting mental well-being. Personalised training programs improve physical fitness and contribute to mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which act as natural stress relievers. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry noted that even small amounts of exercise can prevent future depressive episodes, highlighting the mental health benefits of regular physical activity.


The Complementary Nature of Psychotherapy and Physical Fitness

Combining psychotherapy with physical fitness creates a holistic approach to health. While therapy addresses mental and emotional challenges, physical training strengthens the body and enhances mental resilience. This combination is particularly beneficial for expats, providing a comprehensive strategy to tackle the unique stresses of expat life. At Therapy in Barcelona, one of our therapists, Dr Cynthia, specialises in Sport Psychology; she can help you level up your performance or manage the psychological challenges of recovering from an injury.


Consistency and Commitment: Keys to Success

Success in both therapy and personal training hinges on consistency and commitment. Regularly engaging in therapy sessions and maintaining a consistent workout routine is crucial for lasting benefits. A Journal of Clinical Psychology study found that consistency in therapy sessions leads to more significant improvements in mental health outcomes. Similarly, research in the Journal of Sport and Health Science shows that consistent physical training results in better physical and psychological health.


The Process of Change in Therapy and Personal Training

Psychotherapy is a collaborative process between a therapist and client that aims to facilitate positive change, improve well-being, and promote mental health. Through a supportive and non-judgmental environment, you can explore your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, gain insight into your challenges, and develop coping strategies to overcome them. The ultimate goal of psychotherapy is to empower you to lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life by addressing the root causes of your difficulties, fostering personal growth, and enhancing your overall well-being.

Personal training involves working with a certified fitness professional who develops a customised workout plan tailored to an individual's fitness goals, abilities, and needs. Personal trainers provide guidance, support, and motivation to help you achieve your desired results: weight loss, muscle gain, improved athletic performance, or overall health improvement. Personal training aims to help you safely, effectively, and efficiently achieve your fitness goals by developing sustainable healthy habits and lifestyle changes that promote long-term well-being.

The processes involved in therapy and personal training share similarities. Both require setting realistic goals, developing a plan, and committing to the process. In therapy, this might include exploring and changing behaviours or our relationship to thoughts, feelings,  situations or others, while personal training involves physical exercises and lifestyle changes. The commitment to these processes leads to gradual but meaningful changes in both mental and physical health. Consistency is key!!


Both psychotherapy and personal training share key similarities:

  1. Client-Centred Approach: Both processes are tailored to your unique needs and goals, placing your well-being at the forefront.
  2. Collaborative Relationship: In both cases, a strong rapport between you and the professional is essential for achieving positive outcomes.
  3. Behaviour Change: Both psychotherapy and personal training aim to help you change behaviours, whether it's unhelpful thought patterns in therapy or unhealthy habits in fitness.
  4. Long-Term Focus: Success in both areas relies on long-term commitment and sustainable change rather than quick fixes or temporary solutions
  5. Consistency: Showing up week to week yields the most favourable outcomes for clients in both personal training and psychotherapy. Neither of these processes is surgery, where something is removed to make us better; both require consistent work from the professional and the client for there to be results.


Research on the Combined Impact of Therapy and Physical Fitness

Research increasingly supports the combined impact of therapy and physical fitness on mental health and well-being. A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that individuals who combined physical activity with mental health interventions experienced more significant improvements in mental health symptoms compared to those who only engaged in one of the activities.


Tailoring Approaches for Expats

For expats in Barcelona, the combination of therapy and physical fitness must be tailored to address the specific challenges of living abroad. Therapy in Barcelona specialises in this, offering therapies that cater to the unique needs of the expat community. Similarly, Attika Fitness provides personalised training programs that consider the lifestyle and challenges of expats.

Expats in Barcelona seeking to enhance their mental and physical well-being should consider the complementary benefits of psychotherapy and physical fitness. Connect with Therapy in Barcelona for a free discovery call, or fill out their intake form to start your journey towards mental health. Explore the personalised training programs at Attika Fitness to strengthen your physical health. Together, their professional support will guide you towards a more balanced, healthy, and fulfilling expat experience in Barcelona.

The journey of an expat is filled with unique adventures and challenges. By embracing both psychotherapy and physical fitness, expats in Barcelona can ensure they are caring for their minds and bodies equally. This holistic approach is not just about coping with life's challenges but thriving in a new environment. Remember, a healthy mind and a healthy body are your greatest assets as you navigate your expat journey in the beautiful city of Barcelona.


About the Author

Therapy in Barcelona Founder Portrait

 Leigh Matthews is an Australian Psychologist and the Founder and Director of Therapy in Barcelona. From her first,  thriving private practice in Australia to her current group practice in Barcelona, Leigh maintains her passion for offering clients the most personalised, professional therapy experience possible. She and her entire team of therapists at Therapy in Barcelona specialised in helping both online and in-office therapy to internationals. All therapists at Therapy in Barcelona are expats like our clients. Besides speaking several languages, each therapist has different specialities; they all have their own unique personality and offer a range of approaches. Leigh invites you to experience working on your wellness with Therapy in Barcelona.

InBody measurements are an accurate body composition reading tool to help us see your quantifiable progress of your personal goals you and your trainer have defined together.

We will be able to track:
  • Analysis of body composition – muscle, body fat, water retention
  • Comparison analysis for upper/lower body and left/right side balance
  • Setting specific health goals
  • Tracking and comparing your progress with previous measurements

At Attika our priority is your health. We have met plenty of people with six packs that are totally miserable and unhealthy. Having a six pack can be a side effect of healthy habits and of course we can help you to get there, if you wish to do so. However, our priority is creating healthy mindset and habits towards becoming a better human, feeling good in your own skin, and having energy to keep going. The looks are a bonus 🙂

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