Depression, Anxiety and …. Exercise

Depression, anxiety and exercise!

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I know you want to hit me with a shovel, but ummm ….. exercise DOES work. Yup, sorry about that, but unfortunately, it does.

I remember going to the doctor’s surgery many moons ago (Do read The Doctor if you want evidence of my previous mental state) and being apoplectic with rage at his suggestions and yet, months later when the medication had eventually taken the edge off the depression and anxiety and I was able to think just a little clearer, I started the only form of exercise I knew, tennis.

Odd isn’t it how the doctors, therapists, magazines and papers are all telling us to use exercise to beat depression and anxiety and yet still, we are enraged and hate them all for their irritating and pathetic suggestions. “I have a disease, going for a swim won’t change that!” and “How can I go for a run when I can’t even get out of bed?” we shrill. “Don’t you understand how I feel, how can I possibly go for a cycle ride when I feel like this?” we shout.

And yet, and yet, they do keep banging on about the wretched benefits of it, even the celebrities we idolise seem to be talking about it. Bastards the lot of them. They just don’t understand. Don’t they know how darn exhausted we are?

However, when you have those endorphins and dopamine coursing through the body (don’t even question trying to fight those chemicals), the brain is occupied (no possibility of thinking about death, dying and misery, whilst focusing on a small yellow ball flying at eighty miles an hour towards you), the laughter, chatter and screams of hilarity filling the court (and often neighbouring courts) make any downward spirals of negativity stop firmly in their tracks with an almighty screech of rubber on tarmac and a handbrake U-turn. And as for the light, sun and fresh air … well I personally couldn’t find any of those whilst hiding under my bed with only the drooling dog and a family pack of multi-flavoured crisps for company.

The hardest part is the putting on of those trainers. (Read this post next … Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain) After that, it’s a breeze …. one becomes swept up with that extraordinary and distant friend, happiness, and before you can say “Goddamn gym bunnies” your cheeks are rosy, you’re laughing, chatting and organising the next session with newly found friends. If this all sounds a bit too cheesy, the only words of wisdom this old bird can hand out are from that age-old adage, “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it”. Because, annoyingly, using exercise to combat depression and anxiety and the lethargy that comes as part and parcel of those evil twin sisters, actually does work. It beats it. Game, set and Goddamn match.

Katie x

WHAT EXERCISE ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TODAY? WELL??

51 thoughts on “Depression, Anxiety and …. Exercise”

  1. I think the most important thing is to find an exercise that you like and preferably one that has a social interaction as well.
    I have been trying to squash my depression with exercise for a long time and it has always helped to a degree but historically my exercise was solitary. More recently I have found that the social interaction adds just as much benefit as the exercise.
    (and don’t start me on running – it’s addictive!)

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    1. You’re right … it’s got to be enjoyable otherwise I wouldn’t stick to it. Good for you for running! My knee is a bit dodgy so running is hard … I’m very impressed ☀️☀️👍👍

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  2. SO TRUE! There is nothing that can take me from a bad mood and/or worry to feeling happy and content quicker than a long, brisk walk around the huge park near to where I live – the loop is almost exactly 10k and it takes a good hour and 40 minutes. Nearly two hours of fresh air, doing my body some good but most of all it’s therapeutic. I haven’t suffered depression or anxiety except the kind that was alcohol induced thank God, but I can absolutely vouch for the magic those endorphins can do. It’s almost impossible to feel glum afterwards! And you’re so right about putting on the trainers being the hardest thing – it’s hard to get motivated to get out there when we don’t feel fantastic, but it honestly is the only difficult bit. Hugs to you – have I ever told you that reading your blog is like a little vitamin injection every time? Never stop writing. Sophie xx

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    1. Aww you’ve just made me really happy … thanks so much 😘
      You’re right, it’s complete therapy. I just wish I’d known years ago the benefits and started the habit earlier. 10k is pretty impressive! Crikey … you’re on a pedestal as far as I’m concerned! Kx

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  3. Preach it sister because it is the truth. And me? Today? Today I ran as usual and smelled the damp air and felt my lungs burn – it’s the greatest love-hate relationship of my life but it keeps the black dog kenneled nicely 🙂

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  4. I absolutely believe that exercise helps depression AND anxiety! There are no better endorphins for the body. (Sex is a plus as well!) I also deal with chronic pain so I do my daily walks and stretches, mainly… but I try to push it a little, when I over-do it I end up in bed for three days in agonizing pain. So my search continues! I found a body motion series of videos that I have started and I got one of those stupid ‘fit boards’ but am hoping that the activity will not be jarring so I won’t have a pain flare. I used to love tennis and racketball! (Aging myself with the racketball courts! ha!) Finding the activity that works for you is the bottom line I think, but yes! There needs to be some form of activity, exercise, in our lives to maintain mental health! Good for you! Great post!~kim

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    1. Thanks Kim! I love that you’re a real ‘do-er’. I’ve found yoga to be heaven for stretches, an oddly nice pain, but this probably stems from having done ballet as a child and we had to sit cross legged on the floor but the soles of our feet together (so not actually cross legged!) with a very straight back, and our teacher would come over to us one at a time and stand on our knees and force them down to the floor! Arghh! But strangely I can still do it today … once bendy, always bendy perhaps 😬. I hope that your walks and stretches help with the pain?? It sounds awful … sending love.

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      1. Whoa, stood on your knees? That is wild! Ballet. There is a uniqueness of those ever involved in the ballet world. I envy that tenacity that seems to stem from the very soul of a dancer. I think it shines through in your writing. Anyway, I’m sure the exercise does help with the pain but the best choice of type varies greatly!!! Trial by firing squad most days!😉

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  5. I’ve gone through periods of being quite depressed and forcing myself to exercise because I knew I “should”; it wasn’t helpful, but I kept on trying anyway. The conclusion I came to was that it only works for me when I’m feeling moderately bad; when I’m really low, about all it seems to accomplish is make me frustrated

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    1. Yes, now I think you’ve nailed it. I need to be moderately bad … if I’m really, really bad I just stand at the net and I can see the racquet in front of me shaking crazily…. although it helps having got out and had my battle for the day – a small sense of achievement, because had I not, I would have used it as an excuse to lie on the sofa for hours. On the spectrum of anxiety and depression, I have never been at the top, top end. I’ve at worst been at a seven out of ten and perhaps that’s the key to this. It works wonders, unless one is truly at the top end of the spectrum, and then … well I can’t be the judge of that because I don’t know. What I do know, is that I have to force myself to do it. Katie x

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    1. Hi Mike, Ahh now you’ve caught me … I’m an old fashioned (completely out of touch) lassie and therefore having to assume that you’re talking headphones and music? Well, I have an odd relationship with music which I have yet to work out properly. … in as much as, I find that music dictates my mood, and if it’s an old song from say the 80’s then I get very nostalgic for several hours afterwards which I don’t like very much. So personally I don’t listen to music a lot if I’m going to the gym … I see everyone else doing it and they’re very much in their own little world, but I quite like being aware of what’s going on around me. What about you? Do you?? Am I missing out? Katie

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    1. You always manage to make me laugh! Lycra should be banned … it’s alright on slim men (so you’d be fine) as long as they understand that women eyes are naturally drawn south … it’s just a curiosity thing, nothing rude; but for me … If I wear Lycra, I feel as though I’ve been put into one of those bags to store the duvet in so that I’d fit under the bed that has the air sucked out of it – all squeezed in and wanting to pop out. I don’t think it’s a very good look for women like me of a certain age! 😂

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  6. I was actually prescribed aerobic exercise by a psychiatrist . It’s not just about endorphins, exercise reduces brain inflammation, that is what he told me. I was also treated with intravenous steroids for my depression, steroids do help.

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      1. It does help me. I exercise with an aerobic step for 30 – 40 minutes. I also got a Wahoo heart monitor to measure my pulse. I try to raise it to 145 bpm. Also homemade goat kefir helps me, seems to work as an anti-inflammatory.

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      2. Wow! That’s brilliant … I don’t know what a kefir is though – like a casserole maybe?? I think there’s a lot to be said for anti-inflammatories … it could be the way forward. Katie x

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      3. Kefir is a fermented milk drink, made from kefir grains. It has different strains of bacteria and yeasts, so it’s considered a probiotic drink. I think it’s been helping me since I started making it three weeks ago. Quite easy to make.

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  7. I am a huge advocate on exercising to overcoming anxiety or negativity in life. Your quote on talking about how engaged you are within exercising along with the endorphins released from your brain really spoke to me, because years ago when I was younger, I found myself near rock bottom from my social anxiety, even from my closest friends, and I felt like I could not be around them, resulting me to resort through going to the gym to spend my time when I was not busy with school at the time. It offered me a gateway to forget about all the stress and negativity that was in my life.

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    1. I’m so pleased you discovered the gym … exercise really is an incredible way to sort ones mind (and body!) out. I’m a very different person now to the one I was a few years ago and I put an awful lot of that down to exercise. Do let me know how you’re getting on. Thanks very much for reading and giving your thoughts, it makes me so happy! Katie x

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  8. I have major depression and have found exercise to be the most effective way to treat it. However, it is not the easiest. When you are depressed, getting out and exercising feels like an insurmountable task.

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    1. You’re so right – exercise is the best thing for us but the hardest to do. The only way I managed it was to make it a part of my daily routine so that it became a
      habit as much as cleaning my teeth was … but it’s hard isn’t it. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you’re having a good week. Katie

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