Exercise as Therapy

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Now honestly I’ve been going backwards and forwards in my head whether or not to even post this. One reason which you’ll know if you read my blog regularly I rarely post stuff actually about me. It’s about my training or a new shoe or a new fitness class. This post is definitely different to that and it’s daunting for me. It’s probably because I know what I’m about to write is so personal and I’m not really sure what I’m actually going to say. I just know that I’m not alone in using exercise this way, I know it is how many other people react; I want to share my thoughts so it can try and help someone else reading this who is currently lost or searching for help 🙂

When you lose a part of you, it’s life altering. It causes you to pause in this whirlwind of everyday business and you’re taken aback. For me it was the loss of my father four years ago. My world stopped. I remember feeling so totally and utterly lost for quite a long time. I didn’t leave my university room for days at a time, I kept myself to myself hardly ate and just wanted to be swallowed up. For other people I know this grief is similar when dealing with the break up of a long term relationship; when battling depression or self esteem issues and losing themselves. Grief takes over and no-one really knows how to cope.

For some it’s controlling eating, for others it’s going off the rails or deep depression. My coping mechanism ultimately, was exercise. At the time I was at university and part of the Netball and Athletics team. After many days of hiding in my room, I knew I had to keep going on with my daily routine or I’d crumble. Sessions with the team were great but I was so vacant. When you lose yourself, you actually really don’t want to be around others and be exposed. For me I found it really hard, but my peers understood they encouraged me whilst also giving me my space. It was a lifeline for me.
Over that first year of coping with grief I had huge ups and huge downs to dark places but every time, exercise was there. It listened but didn’t ask questions. Even if I went into the gym alone lifted up heavy shit and threw it down, it helped me offload anger, stress and emotion. Now I’m not going to lie to you all and say it was the magic solution to all my problems, of course not. But lifting weights or putting up some netball shots, or running suicides gave me that head space. It gave me time to find me again. That person I thought I’d lost when I lost my dad was finally coming back. I’m also not going to say it didn’t become an obsession-because it did. There were times in the past, I ran myself into the ground by over exercising as I found it was my only way to cope. At one point I had to exercise everyday, just to feel sane. It was a bump in the road I learnt from it and again it made me stronger.

Today over 4 years on, I’m not that person I was then and I believe truly exercise saved me. I’m stronger, more passionate and optimistic plus, I am the happiest I’ve ever been! The people I have around me are extraordinary also and keep me laughing and smiling constantly. You know who you are!! Of course, once in a blue moon a day catches me off guard but it’s fine, I cope I roll with it, I usually go for a little run and I know it’s normal have a shit day too!

So what I say to you and anyone you know struggling right now is just try moving it gets better. It always gets better. Try not to dwell on it. Whether it’s depression, whether it’s abuse, fear, illness or grief at the loss of a loved one, get yourself moving. Our brain have a habit of overthinking, by exercise we help to distract ourselves from this too! Add a morning walk to your day. Get up and go to the gym before work. Join that new community Zumba class. Do that running club you always see on your way home. By putting yourself into a new environment, especially involving exercise, you will begin to recover. I’m not saying it’ll happen overnight. Bu,t exercise and the community it attracts are strong, diverse and welcoming. Allow others in, find perspective and soon you’ll find what you’ve been missing 🙂

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