Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Exercise and your Mental Health

Two years ago I got somewhat addicted to exercising. I worked out multiple times a day to a set routine and pushed myself continually to exceed my goals. I even bought an exercise mat as an incentive for me to keep it up when I got back to college.

My ambition was short lived when I had my tonsils out. I spent one week recovering, followed by another week in hospital for a post-tonsillectomy bleed, and then ANOTHER week spent recovering from that.

It was difficult to get back into exercising after that. Having been unable to exercise for over 3 weeks, I lacked motivation and energy to And I have never really gotten back to that level of fitness.

Exercise became a form of therapy for me. I pushed myself day after day because it made me feel better in a lot of different ways...
  • I felt better about myself as a whole

§  As my fitness improved my body began to tone and strengthen. I was happy with the way I looked, and this in turned boosted my confidence and self-esteem. In turn, self-esteem leads to happiness and increased productivity. It's win-win.
  •          Distraction

§  Exercise was a distraction from everything else going on in my life. For 30mins at a time I didn't have to think about anything apart from my workout. All my negative thinking, anxiety about the future, regrets about the past were all put on hold, and I loved it. 
  •     Independent

§  What I love about exercising is that it’s something I can do by myself. It involves no interaction with other people (which is perfect so you can get as sweaty as you want, or put in as little effort as you want depending on your mood). 
  •          Pain

§  Part of me enjoyed the pain of exercise; pushing the limits of both my mind and my body.
  •          Relaxing

§  This one sounds a bit odd, I know. But afterwards I would sleep better, feel less stressed and generally more relaxed. It's a great after effect of exercise.
  •          Achievement

§  With every extra minute I could exercise, with every little improvement of my body, I was proud of myself. Exercise can come with a real sense of achievement.

Now, as with the years in between, I have always found something that stands in my way – college assignments, exams, work, tiredness. I let the excuses become reasons not to spend even a few minutes exercising.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to. It’s an ongoing battle, but I’m hoping that a little motivation will help me get back to exercising at least a couple of times a week.

I have a new target of running a 5k come November (or at least putting in a good jogging effort)! It's a small goal that should spur me on to get back into regular exercising.

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