If you had read my previous post “We All Have Bad Days Part I”, you will have a better understanding of my collaboration with Kiki Mairi and how it started. Building on us discussion the betrayal of social media brought us to a more in depth discussion of depression, and how one may struggle with the feeling that “getting out of bed in the morning is already a full time job” due to the demonizing thoughts and feelings that depression leaves over ones mind. Depression is known for its meticulous ability to flood ones mind with anxiety, low mood, and ability to physically and mentally drain a person, taking away any sort of motivation that they might have. This is generally due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, coinciding with life events or stressors, leaving one unable to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, and quickly becoming overwhelmed.
Most of us know that exercise has many benefits, both mentally and physically. It is known to boost your mood and morale, mediate our weight, morph and sculpt our body, combat (or avoid) diseases, and help us live a longer, happier life. With regards to mood and morale, physical activity induces an endorphin influx into our body (produces happy hormones-in simple language), and helps lower cortisol levels (stress hormones), assuming you aren’t overtraining or over stressing your body. Now, understanding how exercise can affect us in such a positive aspect, it’s very simple to say, “Oh, you’re depressed? You should exercise, that will help!” Kiki had told me that her psychologist told her to go work out as a solution to her unrelenting depression. It may sound all fine and dandy, and as a perfect quick resolution to the problem, but what isn’t considered is the fact that when depressed, people struggle to do the essentials in life such as eat and sleep, let alone throw in a grueling workout at an intimidating gym full of sweaty men grunting each time they deadlift. Conversely, people without depression struggle getting to the gym due to factors such as fatigue, time-restraints or simply the fact that they do not feel comfortable in a gym setting, as they feel lost and judged every time they step foot on the premises. Considering all these aspects, Kiki and I decided that we need to come up with a solution to overcome this. To help those with depression find a way to still roll out of bed, throw on their Lulu’s, put their hair in a pineapple ponytail, chomp down on a banana, tie up their trainers and get their butt in gear.
To make this more interesting, however, Kiki and I decided we are going to work together to help give you some anecdotal evidence. I am going to provide her two evidence-based ideas at a time to help combat the reluctance to workout secondary to depression, and she is going to write about her experiences as to whether or not they helped. For the first trial, here is what I came up with:
- Add exercise into your schedule. Most people with depression still manage to achieve at least the essential tasks in their lives such as feeding their children and going to work. If you can schedule in exercise, at first it may seem like a chore, but it will push you to feel as though you must accomplish it. Additionally, once you do finish your workout, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, as you were able to check it off your “to-do” list. Eventually it will feel like routine as well, and offer a sense of comfort.
- When you are having a good day, write down goals that you would like to achieve, why you would like to achieve them, and how you can achieve them. This will give you a sense of what you want to strive for, and will help fuel your workouts. I want to emphasize the importance of writing the goals down, rather than having them in your mind. It makes a massive difference, as it can help feel more “concrete” and essential to achieve, rather than being an abstract idea. For more information, check out my previous post on Motivation.