We have all seen the rather amusing meme’s stating “I run because punching people is frowned upon” or “I exercise because completely exhausting myself is the most relaxing part of my day.” And yes they are amusing, but all jokes aside there is an element of truth in these statements.
During the most adverse times in ones life finding an outlet to channel any stress, anxiety or grief is an important factor in working through ones troubles and ensuring that mental health and well being is maintained.
In my late teens and early twenties, when I found myself in a situation that challenged me mentally or caused me adverse stress, I often turned to partying hard. Back then I thought there was nothing better than deciding not to deal with my problems, doing Tequila shots was more my vice, thinking the next day they wont be there. Obviously the next day and the hangover always was, along with the deepened feelings of anxiety and depression. As the years went by, and my experience in life continued, the partying ways lessened and my love for Tequila shots did too.
By mid to late twenties and now in my almost mid thirties my outlet has changed. During any times that cause me higher levels of stress I have turned to exercise. Exercise has been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. It improves self esteem and cognitive function. And for that small amount of time when you are running, spinning or boxing it out in Body Combat your mind forgets. You can go to your happy place simply by sweating it out.
Over the past few years I have struggled on and off with stress, desperately trying not to head back to the depressive years of my late teens/ early twenties. And every time exercise (and a few bubbles on the side) has been there to help me manage my stress levels. During these times I simply spent extra time channelling any negative energy into my performance.
Luckily, over the years, I have developed the ability to recognise when I need to “sweat it out” and when I just need to have a few drinks with friends. Some are not so lucky. Some, perhaps people with deeper levels of mental health, cannot find an outlet or simply don’t talk about their feelings because they are embarrassed or don’t know how to express themselves. It is these people we need to look out for and take time for.
I have many friends who have dealt with various forms of depression, anxiety and grief. The blessing with them, is that (I hope) they always have people to talk to, even if they don’t find an outlet to deal with the pain. And it is painful. Yes there are other things going on in the world that are a hell of a lot worse. But in that moment, at that time, what ever that person is feeling is bigger than anything else.
I have often been told in recent years that I have been an inspiration. That seeing me push through has inspired people to run. That I have been the heart and soul of many teams. And most importantly I have had a positive reflection on life.
Right now, I have to say I only hope its true. As during a stormy part of my life, whilst going through an experience I never imagined I would face, I am using all the strength I have gained. I am using my experiences and the positivity to pull through some tough times.
My outlet to do so is simple. Exercise.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, It’s about learning to dance in the rain”
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