18 Ways that exercise makes the difference in my recovery
I don’t often write lists, but this post has broken my pattern. I am not a runner, I am more of a generalist. I run, I bike, I do weights and I walk. I like to mix my routines so that I don’t feel bored.
I am in recovery and exercise is a key part of helping me to become a better person. This lis is not advice, it is the reasons that motivate me to keep exercise in my life. You may have a different list and at the end, I will ask you to share some of your ideas.
18 Ways that Exercise Makes the Difference in my Recovery
- I run because when I move, I stay one step ahead of the negative thoughts that pull me down.
- Clears my head, a mental reset.
- Challenges me. This cannot be underrated. The challenge becomes a way of pulling together your motivation and drive. Whereas your drive used to be focused on getting high, or avoiding, or isolating, or fixating on a negative commentary, exercise gives you a different focus.
- Exercise can help you progress at your own pace. If you experience generalized anxiety, you can exercise at home, then you begin using a treadmill, then build up to exercising in your community, and then you can go further out. You may even begin exercising with a class. The important part is to go at your own pace.
- I feel better, often just because I have pushed myself. I know that exercise releases chemicals that improve my mood, but that is just a bonus. There is a special reward that comes when you don’t feel like doing something and you do it anyway.
- You get better at choosing. Closely related to the previous point, you don’t need to love it. Sometimes it is a little sickening to hear people talk about how much they love exercise. Some days I can’t wait for it to end. But pushing through is good.
- Exercise may not burn that many calories, but it seems to increase motivation and self-discipline in other areas.
- It seems to help me gain a better perspective on my cravings, my triggers and the inner battles that I face.
- I become more creative after I exercise. The idea for this post came into my head while I was out. Sometimes nothing pops into your head, other times you touch gold.
- It is a way to take care of myself. Trauma is stored in the body, so when you sweat, it is a way to pay attention to yourself. You may need professional help, but exercise will always be a cornerstone to mental, emotional and physical health.
- It clears the head from all of the fixations, obsessions and other negativity that you can get stuck in.
- It pulls you back into the moment. In this way, exercise is like moving meditation.
- When you stop using, or when you are trying to recover from depression or other mental health issues, exercise can provide you with structure for your day.
- It is progressive, you don’t need to be a pro or in shape to go for a walk or get on a bike. I don’t have fancy bike clothes yet, and for a while I really wanted the stretchy pants and shirt. Now I don’t really care. Some of that stuff is just window dressing.
- You can always back off. My back up plan if I am having a devastating relapse of depression is to lower my exepectations. I just to get on the treadmill and walk. I listen to a podcast, or music, and I push myself to get up and go. For me, usually the moods lift in a few days so that exercise is not impossible.
- You can mix it up when you want to. I have invested in some exercise DVD’s, and some basic equipment. I recommend having a plan, and then a back up plan, and then a back up plan to the back up plan. For example, if you like to run and you hurt your knee, you can always work out with light weights and walk. This way, you keep your routine even if you change the actual exercise activity.
- Consult the pros. I rely on Jay Scott for my fitness advice. For me, it is important to get information from pros who have struggled with their own weight issues. I like to know a person’s back story, how they lost weight themselves, and how exercise helps with their mental health issues.
- It’s fun. Not all of the time, and sometimes you grind it out. But exercise can be fun because you feel the adrenalin, get outside, and you notice your world.
So why do you do it? Why do you run, bike, walk or dance? Does not matter what you do, but what keeps your mind moving? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Keep it Real
Photo by Richard Leeming