We all have those days when we are stressed out, work, family, social commitments can leave us feeling frazzled and give us those anxious butterflies in our stomach that make us want to just crawl into bed and leave the world behind. But what happens when this becomes a regular occurrence, not every day but multiple times a day – over things other people may consider ‘silly’ or ‘not worth worrying about’?
This is something 1 in 4 people have to deal with on a daily basis, it’s called Generalised Anxiety Disorder and its something I personally have to deal with, this is a short version of my story and more importantly ways I have found to manage this, in my case I figured anything was worth a try but ultimately I found something that I didn’t even realise was working and it changed so much for me.
Following a 6 month treatment of an acne medication that aggravated my anxiety disorder I found myself unable to concentrate on the smallest things, work, family, friends, going out and socialising – all of the things that I would usually fully immerse myself in all became a stressful blur. Constant anxiety about totally irrational things crept into my daily – sometimes hourly thoughts and there were times I just felt like I couldn’t handle it. I literally wanted to crawl into my bed and let the world and all my responsibilities go down the drain. Being stubborn I would force myself to carry on as normal, but it became apparent to those close to me that something wasn’t right – I started getting the ‘we never hear from you any more’ messages, the ‘are you ok?’ phone calls, I started avoiding social situations unless I felt in complete control of them. I knew I needed to do something and actually the very first thing I did was start telling people about it – not easy, but easier than I had imagined.
There are numerous ways of dealing with anxiety/stress/depression and I am not here to tell you what’s right for you. What I would like to share with you today is how I have noticed the relationship between my physical health & my mental health go directly hand in hand, that taking care of myself means not what I look like or how much weight I can lift but that there is a complete circle that includes my Mind,Body & Soul.
But what does that mean? Mind,Body & Soul – sounds like something straight from a hippy commune right? For me it means I need to take care and be aware of my thoughts (Mind) that I need to fuel myself with good food and consistent exercise (Body) and that I need to be happy within myself (Soul)
Im going to talk briefly about how nutrition & exercise have helped me both physically and mentally.By now you if you have read our blog’s you will know that I am by no means a born athlete – I hated exercise, have never been a member of a gym, didn’t even go for long walks in the park. One year ago I started Crossfit as a way to avoid the traffic on my way home from work, I quickly became hooked and now consider Crossfit part of my everyday life. But WHY, why did I get hooked. I always wondered – Im not into exercise, Im still not! But every single time I walk into Crossfit Im excited, buzzing, cant wait to see my friends, do the workout, I literally look forward to it every day! Recently I realised what exercise has done for me and its not what you might think!
Physically – Im stronger, Im fitter, I look better, yes – lets get those things out of the way. Mentally – Im stronger, Im fitter, I feel better – this was a suprise to me!
Those days when everything is on top of me, when Im feeling insanely anxious about the most insignificant things – those are the days that exercise, and in my case Crossfit, literally pulls me out of a hole. I know – no matter what, I will walk into that gym and I will spend one hour thinking about absolutely nothing other than what I am doing in any single moment with any precise move – theres no time to be worrying or anxious or stressed – its my one and only time to focus myself on nothing but being present in that one particular moment. And it feels AMAZING!
It chills me out, it balances me and every now and then I get the pleasure of absolutely bouncing out of the doors because I got a PB! Those days are awesome! Crossfit hasn’t ‘cured’ my anxiety – but it has been one of the main contributors of me managing it.
Scientifically we know that exercise helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol, it releases feel-good endorphins and intense exercise raises core body temperature which in turn relaxes muscle tension – resulting in a lowering of anxiety related physical effects (we get anxious, we tighten or ‘hold’ our muscles)
So back to my very first sentence – we all have those days right? You dont have to have an anxiety disorder to get anxious, stressed, depressed – that can happen to anyone. But finding a ‘time out’ for you to either gather your thoughts – or in the case of exercise leave your thoughts at the door and just breathe and not think for an hour can only be good.
Find your space
Find what works for you – yoga, zumba, a run, lifting weights, group sport, anything it doesnt matter. All that matters is that your moving, your getting those awesome endorphins pumping through your body, your leaving the madness at the door and your relaxing those tight, tense muscles by heating them up through movement. Every single one of us deserves to look after not just our physicality but also our mentality – to find something that can do both for you is a blessing.
I would love to hear your stories, share your thoughts and hear your successes and battles! Get in touch at email@example.com
If you or someone you know may be suffering from mental illness find online help and advice athttp://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/