First 30 Days Blog

29 jul

Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

JennaSmithIt took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own lying brain. It has taken even longer still to fully adopt that plan because it turns out that fighting back against your own brain is not like fighting back against other types of conditions. Anti-depressants and other meds can work wonders but they don’t fix everything.

This blog has talked before about dealing with depression. Today I want to talk to you about living with and living through depression and anxiety. Before I do, though, it is important to note that these conditions manifest differently for everybody. What works for me may not work for you so it is important that you work with trained doctors and therapists to figure out the best way to help yourself feel better.

That said—here are the two things that have helped me the most:

Establishing A Routine

For me, depression often manifests itself as an inability to make even small decisions without feeling overwhelmed. For example—I know that I need to get up but deciding what I should do first makes me immediately anxious. What if I pick the wrong thing? This combined with the fact that mornings are often the hardest time of day for people with depression means that a morning routine is essential. Britt Reints, a favorite blogger and author, talks about her morning routine in Every Day Health.

For me, I need the structure that Reints uses in the mornings all day. For example: I make sure that I eat lunch at the same time every day and try to eat dinner at the same time on most days. I do X at this time, Y for this long and Z on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The fact that I don’t have kids and that my friends are also creatures of habit helps with this. Scheduling as much of the mundane as possible gives me incredible peace of mind. It also helps me feel like I am more in control of what is happening each day and that gives me a (small, sure, but still important) confidence boost.

Exercise Regimen

Yeah, yeah, endorphins. Exercise increases endorphins—the happy making hormones—which is why one of the first things people are told to do when they even mention symptoms of depression is to work out. For some people this is something that they can do passively. I’m not one of these people.

Exercise is part of my daily routine and I’m not going to lie: it is not my favorite thing in the world. By nature I’m a sedentary creature, preferring reading to running every darn day of the week. Still— sticking to the routine and working to help my body feel strong is an important confidence and mood booster.

What worked for me was figuring out a way to keep my workouts short and, sure, okay, cheating the system. Typically, a workout will take an hour: twenty minutes of strength, twenty of cardio, twenty of endurance training. I decided to devote just twenty minutes a day to elliptical training. One of the (many) benefits of elliptical training is that the elliptical machines or bikes work all of the areas of your body at once. It’s like I’m killing three birds with one stone.

Remember: depression and anxiety manifest differently for everybody. You might find that deviating from a steady routine helps you feel better. Or maybe you prefer to run and swim for your exercise. Or you might have entirely different coping mechanisms. What matters is that you find what works for you and stick with it!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on July 29th, 2014 in Diet and Fitness, Health, Personal Stories | 0 comments

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