Today, we kick off the first day of my new series: How I Cope. In this series, we will be talking about how I cope with my anxiety. I’ll discuss how I came across each of my coping mechanisms, what effect they have on me, and how to incorporate each of them into your self-care routine.
The first one we’ll talk about is exercise.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not a very athletic person. God has blessed me with many talents and skills, but sports were not one of them. I did Karate off and on during my grade school years, but other than that, I really didn’t exercise.
I actually fell into exercising by accident. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance in mid-2016. My doctor told me that I needed to exercise and eat better so that my insulin resistance wouldn’t develop into Type 2 Diabetes.
In the Fall 2016 semester, I had to take a Physical Education (PE) class for my Associate of Arts degree. It was an online class, but I had to complete three 30 minute workouts per week. That helped me to exercise regularly.
For the remainder of my time at community college, I was disciplined about exercising. I would go to the gym faithfully. As a result, I lost weight, my blood sugar was lower, and it was a little easier to deal with stress and anxiety.
When I transferred to my current school, I began to run outside, as well as take walks. I was a commuter student at the time, so it was hard to go to the campus gym. The exercise combined with the fresh air greatly reduced my stress and anxiety and made life easier to deal with.
In the Spring 2018 semester, I was taking more hours, so I couldn’t run outside as often as I would’ve liked. I still walked around outside, which helped me to relax and lift my mood.
Now that it’s summer, it’s much easier to make it to the gym consistently. Right now, I really like working out on the elliptical because I can listen to an audiobook while I work out.
Since I’ve begun exercising consistently, I’ve lost weight, I’ve become more toned, and it’s much easier to deal with stress. In fact, I’ve gone eight months without a panic attack, which is the longest I’ve ever gone without having one. My heart doesn’t race as much as it once did, and it’s easier to remember to breathe.
With all of my coping mechanisms in place, life is so much easier. I don’t worry constantly about things I can’t control any more. I’m much more relaxed and fun to be around. I’ve made tons of friends; I can go out with them and enjoy myself. I have the energy for fun projects, like my blog! Most of all, it’s easier for me to have fun, instead of constantly worrying about the “what-ifs.”
That’s what I hope to help you with. I want to give you ideas for how to take care of yourself. You deserve it, and I’m here to help!
I know that it can be very overwhelming to begin exercising, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. Here are my tips for how to get started:
- First, before you adopt a new exercising regimen, make sure you get your doctor’s approval, especially if you have a medical condition. The last thing you want to do is worsen any medical condition that you have.
- Start off slow. If you’ve never really exercised before, consider starting by taking a walk around your neighborhood. Even a short walk is better than nothing. You’ll also get sunshine and fresh air, which will help your anxiety and stress.
- If you’ve never worked out at the gym before, consider hiring a personal trainer. A personal trainer will measure your baseline fitness level, help you to set fitness goals, help you to exercise safely, help you learn how to use the workout machines, help you find an appropriate exercise routine, and provide accountability.
- Consider joining a fitness class, such a Karate or a dance class, if you want something more social. Knowing that you’ll be with friends might help to motivate you to exercise consistently.
- Find the form of exercise that’s right for you. Find something enjoyable. If you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to do it. It’s that simple.
- If you have kids, make time to play actively with them. Chase each other with water guns in the backyard. Take them to the playground. Go on a nature walk. Go swimming. Everyone will benefit from the activity, and you’ll get to spend quality time with each other.
- Listen to special music or an audiobook while you work out, if you find it hard to motivate yourself. This might make your workouts less tedious.
I know it’s hard to motivate yourself to work out, especially when your anxiety and depression leave you drained and overwhelmed. Trust me, I’ve been there. I get it. Exercising won’t cure your anxiety and depression, but it will make it easier to cope. It will be hard at first, and you’ll want to give up, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Just remember: you deserve to care for yourself properly.
What is your exercise routine? Leave your answer in the comments below!