Category Archives: exercise

How to start running, according to the New York Times

I’m getting back into running after years on the sidelines. Running produces natural endorphins and when I ran years ago, it helped me manage my depression.

So why did I stop? That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. But the point is, I’m starting again. I plan to blog more about this, but for now, I was happy to see this running guide for beginners in today’s New York Times. I’m a beginner all over again — not for the first time in my life.

Check the guide out here.


Exercise: because meds and doctors alone won’t do it

This is the time when everyone resolves to put more exercise into their lives. This is especially important for me, relaxationexerciseas someone with depression and anxiety.

I know. It’s hard to exercise when you think you can’t even get out of bed. But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: recovery means pushing myself to do a lot of things I don’t want to do. Meds and doctors alone won’t do it.

I aim for a half hour of exercise a day. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t. When whenever I exercise, I DO feel at least a little better. Does it cure my depression and anxiety? No. But it makes my “black dogs” just a little more manageable.

In 2015, I want to use this drug even more than I already do.

 


TGIF — with reservations

It’s Friday, the day when T, G, I, and F become the most popular letters in the alphabet. I’m happy for the weekend, too — sort of.

The weekend means free time. With my depression and anxiety, I don’t do well with free time. So, in order to “trick” my mind, I have to put everything on a schedule — even the fun stuff. It’s not easy for me to do this. It was first suggested to me when I was in the hospital. I was more comfortable with “to do” lists. My therapists said that wasn’t enough. They handed me an Excel-like printout listing every hour of the day. They wanted me to fill out every hour that I possibly could.

It’s all about a sense of structure. The more structure I create, the less likely I am to wake up on Saturday, think I have nothing to do  — and then just stay in bed. It’s way too easy for me to fall in to that trap without structure.

I’m going to be working a lot this weekend, so that gives me instant structure. But I also write in times for eating, exercising, writing, and even working on this blog. Also on the schedule: a meeting with a good friend at a coffee shop, grocery shopping, and watching my New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. (Sorry, Colts fans.)

As long as I stick to my structure, I think I’ll be okay. How do you handle time on the weekend? Feel free to comment. I could always use more suggestions.


Winning the race against mental illness stigma

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Yesterday, I participated in the (Bost0n) Transformation Center’s annual 5k run/walk for mental wellness. Before my mental demons got the best of me, I was a runner for many years, so I’m quite the veteran of 5ks. But this was my first race that benefited anything concerning mental health.

I could not have asked for a better morning. I participated with two of my best friends. Temperatures were in the 80s, but there was no humidity, and there was a gentle breeze throughout. And, this being fall in New England, leaves on towering trees were already bright red and yellow. The race itself took place on Jamaica Pond, part of Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace of tree-lined parks and walking paths. The Emerald Necklace was conceived by Frederick Law Olmstead, the famous landscape architect who was also created New York’s Central Park. Olmstead was brilliantly creative–and he had bouts with mental illness. So it was appropriate that a run benefiting mental health services would take place here.

Still, I couldn’t help noticing a big difference between this event and other 5ks. Though more than 100 runners and walkers participated, no one had their camera phones out. I thought of taking mine out, but I didn’t dare. There seemed to be an unwritten rule against it. Even though this was a mental WELLNESS race, there is no question there is still a stigma about being associated in any way with anything “mental”–even if it involves fun and great exercise. I faced this even before the race. When I tried to get one of my cousins to participate, he ignored my calls, emails and texts. People would tell me he’s “probably busy.” But something tells me that if this was a 5k for just about anything else, I would have at least gotten my texts answered.

I could have been bitter about that, but I wasn’t. I was too busy enjoying the morning with friends who DID participate. I was one of the walkers this time. It has been years since I ran, and I did not want to take a chance on getting injured. But I participated. I was in the race. That’s what mattered. This run is only in its third year–and participation more than doubled over last year’s event.

I hope events like this continue to grow. Because those endorphins do wonders for our mental health. And because, by showing the world that we can be active and have FUN, we are easing that enormous stigma somewhat. I am proud of my participation–so proud that I’m showing my face, and the medal I got just for finishing the race. I’m keeping the medal next to my bed. I still have trouble getting up in the morning, but when I do, it’s one of the first things I now see.

 

 


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