Many of us already know that one of the most effective depression-fighting lifestyle changes is exercise. However, the issue with this is that when we are feeling the most lousy we’ve ever felt in our entire lives, the last thing we feel like doing is exercising. We see those beautiful girls on Instagram and in our Facebook advertisements, doing these hardcore HIIT workout routines and showing off their perfectly toned bodies, and we think, “I can’t do that, because my motivation is at zero. I can hardly even get out of bed.”
So, as someone who has experienced many episodes of depression and knows that exercise is extremely powerful to help me get out them (and has also experienced the dreadful catch-22 of knowing this, but not having the motivation to start a routine) I thought I’d share 5 easy steps to being exercising if you’re someone who is in the same boat!
Would you like a free worksheet to take this information, and directly apply it to your life? Click here! Print it out, put it on your fridge, or just use a journal, write it all up with a pen and just use it as a guide. I hope it helps you! 🙂
1 – Don’t Associate Your Relationship With Exercise With Your Identity
Do you think, “I just don’t exercise, I’m not one of those people”? Or, “I’m just not an exercise-type person,” “I could never be one of those people that enjoys exercising.” The issue here is that you’re taking exercise, and your relationship with it, and applying it as an unchangeable factor of your identity. It’s just not me! A major issue that plagued me for ages was that I thought I just was innately not an athletic person, since I’d always been the last person in the line of my classmates running in P.E. and always felt absolutely terrible in fitness courses. When I realized that I didn’t need to race against others, that if I went at my own pace and wasn’t being graded for how fast I could run, and failing my 2-mile run final (yes, I’m still bitter about that) that it was actually quite lovely to get moving. So, instead, think of it like: “I haven’t found my groove with exercise yet.” “I just don’t know when is best for me, or what type of exercise I enjoy.” “I could become someone who exercises!” Mindset = everything.
2 – Allow For Baby Steps
You might think that these wonderful mental health results people see from starting to exercise is all about being really full-on and intense. However, this is not the case. You don’t need to run every single day, turn into a ninja warrior, or make exercise the central focus of your life to improve your mental health through exercise. Simple changes, day-to-day, will help immensely. If you figure out something that isn’t too strenuous, that you actually enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to continue with it.
3 – Discover the Wonders of Walking
Like I said above, you don’t need to create an intense workout routine to see incredible results mentally from exercise. My favorite exercise nowadays is walking! You can start with a 20 minute evening walk and slowly increase that, and maybe add in your current favorite song to listen to while you’re out there. The incredible thing about walking is that you don’t get super sweaty, you don’t feel over-exhausted, you don’t feel that “gosh I’m too tired to run” feeling, it’s just sort of like meditating. Personally, I can walk almost indefinitely and never feel tired! You’ll probably find that you are way more clear, mentally, after you finish your walk. Then, you’ll have more motivation and clearheadedness to escape the dreaded motivation catch 22 and start doing more exercise.
4 – Set Goals Responsibly
If you’re someone who struggles with their mental health, it probably isn’t the best idea to create huge goals that are hard to reach. Instead of saying that you’ll workout every single day, why not try for a short walk after dinner, 3 days per week to start? Take into consideration your current mental situation, and come up with a bar so low you know you can hit it. This way you can slowly increase the intensity of your goals without causing disappointment and overwhelm.
5 – Journal About Your Exercise Routine
Write a journal entry that helps you get a bit excited! I know that when I feel crappy, and I’m either in the midst of or on the downward spiral that is heading towards a depressive episode, it can feel like nothing I do will help me and improve my situation. Creating a concrete plan / mental map of your current goals and situation regarding excercise is hugely beneficial because it aims to contradict that running monologue in your head that is saying, “Everything is going to stay shitty, perpetually, and nothing I do will affect me beneficially.” Trying out mood journaling before or after excercising, tracking the days you do exercise, testing out different workouts, will all make you feel much more in control. Doing something good for yourself makes you feel like a badass, and will motivate you to try other things to improve your situation as well!
My video on this topic:
Did this help you? Don’t forget to download the worksheet, and let me know what you think!