3 Exercise Tips to Get You Moving!
When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. However, exercise can make a big difference in your experience of depression.
Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems and research on depression and anxiety shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Of course, those of us that struggle with depression and anxiety know that exercising can feel like an impossible task on days that we can scarcely get out of bed or our minds from racing.
Exercise can bring up a lot of funky feelings. You may be really self-conscious about your body, or you may be stuck in the story of hating exercise. You might think exercise is something you "have" to do or you may feel like you have to get in shape before even joining a gym. Walking into a large gym can feel overwhelming. We may feel judged for our appearance, or as though all eyes are on us trying to learn how the equipment works. Everything about it can be anxiety producing.
I'm asked quite a bit in my sessions what I do for exercise, so I thought I would share what I do to dispel any harmful or disempowering stories you may have about exercise.
I'm not one to enjoy using gym equipment. I find for myself that walking on a treadmill or stepping on an elliptical machine bores me and leaves me thinking about how much I hate exercising. It took me a few years to figure out that I was really my own worst enemy when it came to going to the gym. I bought memberships and then never went to the gym only making me feel worse and feeling as though I lacked any willpower.
1. Move the way you love to move.
Here is what I have since learned. There is no right or wrong way to exercise. SImply find a way to move your body in a way that feels good to you. If you hate the gym but love being outdoors, walking, biking, swimming in your favorite lake or ocean, are all exercise. Gardening is a beautiful way to move your body and builds strength and stamina. If you enjoy dancing, put on some good music and move! Maybe even join a ballroom dancing class!
2. Explore what makes you avoid exercising.
As I said before, I was bored using the equipment at the gym, tended to spend an hour telling myself how much I hated being at the gym, and frankly saw no results. One day, I stumbled into a group exercise class. Since then, I have become a group fitness junkie. On any given week, I cycle through Zumba class, Yoga class, Step class, or Barre class. I find a class every day at my gym and make a commitment to myself to get there. During those classes, I'm too busy to follow along to tell myself how much I hate it and the truth is that I have discovered I really like to exercise. I just don't want to be bored.
3. Be kind to yourself!
If you have a habit of shaming yourself into getting there by putting yourself down and being unkind to yourself, I encourage you to stop. Nobody has ever been motivated by shame. Shame does the exact opposite. It robs you of the belief that you are even worth making the changes in the first place. So, what would motivate you to get there? What would you say to someone you love to encourage healthier habits? Speak to yourself in loving ways, and instead of seeing exercise as a way to punish yourself, use it as a way to love yourself and become your own best cheerleader.
Making changes in our lifestyle is a process that requires us to change our beliefs, explore what keeps us stuck, and then use compassion and encouragement to see us through. In what ways will you move your body today?