I have a confession to make, I hate exercise. Always have, possibly always will. I have tried just about every type of exercise and very little excites me. I used to joke that I don’t have any endorphins. I’ve never understood how some people became addicted to exercise. So, to get me moving I needed some sort of incentive like a good cup of coffee or one of my mums’ slices.
When you’re depressed it’s even harder to get moving? I end up slumped into a loop of sitting on the couch and sleeping in my bed, day after day, week after week. It was all I could do.
Then one fine day my husband Scott reads an article by some so called famous psychologist, from a very prestigious university, who said “there is more and more research coming out telling us that exercise combats mental illness”. This was the very last thing I wanted to hear. When I get depressed, I am capable of making two decisions. Whether to sit on the couch or sleep in my bed and whether or not to go to the bathroom. That’s it. I’m not capable of anything else. So, there is no way I could make a decision to go for a walk or go to the gym just because some psychologist somewhere, recommended I get moving.
That’s where I depended so greatly on my support team. Scott could make the decision that we were going for a walk. He would say to me:
“Rach, just put your shoes on that’s all you have to do.”
“Now step out the front door, that’s all you have to do,”
Can I just say here and now that in those moments of Scott persuading me to go for a gentle walk, I hated him. I hated him with everything that I had. Putting on my shoes was like asking me swim across a raging river and stepping out the front door was like asking me to climb Mount Kosciusko. It all seemed so impossible, however Scott was very persistent. “We were going for a walk whether I liked it or not”.
I’m not too proud to admit that I have walked around my block crying the entire way. I have also done it in my pyjamas. The important thing is that I did it. I got off my couch and moved. Now I’m not saying that if you feel bad you have to go for a walk. What I’m saying is that if you feel bad, move. Go for a swim, go to the gym, do Pilates, Yoga, do some gentle stretches on the floor. Just move. When you move, your brain creates the chemicals that make you feel better. It’s a fact. Whilst it’s the one of the hardest things to do, if you’re feeling depressed, get off the couch and move.
I got to a point that every time I felt particularly low, I would go for a walk. The worse I felt, the further I walked, and inevitably each time my mood would improve. Sometimes just a fraction, but sometimes just a fraction can mean the difference between life and death. This is a hard thing to commit to, yet so worthwhile. The only way that I can get myself off the couch when I’m depressed is to say to myself that I feel miserable sitting on the couch, and I will feel miserable going for a walk, so I may as well walk and feel miserable because at least that is productive. At least that will have some benefit, and that’s what gets me moving.
So, if you have a support crew at home, chat to them and tell them that when you’re feeling low, instead of asking you what they can do to make things better, just get moving. Walk, swim, jump, skip. Whatever you choose to do, just move. It doesn’t have to be intense and it doesn’t have to break any world records. It just has to be movement. Your brain will thank you.
What are some techniques you have found to help you to get moving?