Daily Life · depression · exercise

5 Reasons to Exercise When You Are Depressed.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of the regulars that comes into work. He and his friend come in almost 3 times a week. I know them by name and we always have a fun time visiting. This particular friend asked me yesterday how you know when you are depressed. I turned and looked at him and said – “You know you are depressed when you get good at pretending you aren’t, when even you believe it but when you know that there is nothing inside. You are a void – one that can’t be filled. You don’t feel anything anymore – not overwhelming sorrow, joy, anger, or love. You feel empty. And with that emptiness you feel incredibly tired and it’s hard to even fake something but somehow you do it.” He looked at me and simply said “wow – and how do you know this?” I told him – I’ve struggled with depression everyday for the past 15 years. When he asked me how I’ve dealt with it – My number one answer is exercise. While I do seek treatment for it – exercise has helped me a lot.

When you have depression that is the best time to exercise, and here is why:

Endorphin Release: 

Exercise stimulates your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are happiness chemicals. This means that when you are feeling down and depressed, your brain will make more of what you need if you stimulate it. It will releave some of the depression (I won’t say it goes away completely) and will allow you to start feeling a bit better. Ever watch the movie Legally Blonde? “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” This is one of my favorite quotes and it’s so true. Go get that endorphin release!

Self-Confidence Boost:

Exercise does a great job of giving people a self-confidence boost. Let’s just admit between you and me that a lot of us fake it til we make it. Especially women. I struggle being comfortable in my own body. That being said – I am not the best looking woman in the world but I know I’m decent looking. However I find that after I have worked out – I feel so much more comfortable in my own body. Even if I do it when I’m feeling depressed – I finish and find that I can successfully look in the mirror and say “Damn I look Good”. I’m sure part of that is the workout “high” but I’m also sure that by working out – I start feeling more comfortable with who I am.

The Pain:

I know this is going to sound counter intuitive but as a person who struggles with depression, I always just look to feel something. When you are depressed you simply want something to fill the void. You want to know that you are still human – that there is a pain deeper or something to make you more aware of being “life-like”. Versus turning to something like cutting or doing self damage – I find that this works for me. The pain draws me out of my shell and makes me feel normal. It reminds me that I’m alive and hey – this pain – it’s a good thing! It’s because I took time to take care of myself. Which rotates again into the endorphins and self-confidence point. I can enjoy the pain without guilt or any negative emotion! What a relief.

Self-Focus: 

Again – a seemingly counter-intuitive point. Many people think that when you are depressed you need to be drawn out of your shell. Keep the focus on other people. Yes this is true – you do need to spend time with others. If you are struggling with depression the best way to forget is to do some volunteer work. But it’s also worth noting that you need to self-focus a bit and really get your own crap together. I’m not encouraging staying at home. I am how ever saying that I go exercise and focus on the negativity – I find it fuels my workout. But I make it a point that when I leave the mat or the gym – that negativity stays behind. My brain works overtime in the gym. I figure things out because the exercise gives me clarity, but afterwards – every negative item I feel must remain in the gym. I cannot take it with me. Sometimes running outside does the same – imagine running away from all your problems. The idea has a similar concept.

The Plunge:

There are days where getting out of bed is a challenge for me. I have learned though that if I never move – I never challenge myself – I feel worse. The days where you just want to crawl into bed or curl up in a ball – those are the days you need to exercise the most. Spending time – even if it’s simply for a walk – can cause you to see things you wouldn’t have noticed. You will feel better about going to bed and maybe less depressed. It’s worth a try. Take the plunge.

Conclusion:

In closing I want to note – I am not a doctor or a therapist. Consult them before you do anything drastic or crazy. But I will state that exercising has some great benefits and no doctor is going to tell you that you shouldn’t do something active based. If you struggle with depression this is a great way for you to help yourself outside of medication or even with it. Trust me the burn is worth the pay off.

Daily Life · Hygge · School tips · Work

5 of The Best Ways to De-Stress

It seems like stress is always surrounding us. I’m not sure about my readers but I always go through a phase where every so many weeks – I feel more stressed than I should. Yesterday was that day. What happens is that I feel overwhelmed, over burdened, and generically insane. I get cranky and end up biting off my husbands head. In short – I become the “Queen Of Hearts”. Inevitably in this cycle of crazy – the next phase to follow is me de-stressing. I’ve found a five ways to do that and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

 

Hygge- 

If you are familiar at all with this term than you will know it is made for relaxation. I come from a state which tends to be cold 6 months out of the year. For me – this practice is more nostalgic than anything. There is something very relaxing about curling up in a fluffy blanket with a cup of something hot in hand. I also recommend a book – something that you don’t need to think about.

Baking – 

For me baking is an outlet. I find that I need to be able to create something that I can control in order to feel relaxed. It’s like finding a hobby. Everyone should have at least 1 and for me – it’s baking. I enjoy food, and I enjoy creating it. (PS – Check out my baking business at http://www.sweetstoriesbakery.wordpress.com )

Exercise –

While I don’t particularly love exercise, I do find that I enjoy the endorphin release it gives me. I have found that with exercising it allows my body to expell all the negative energy it has and it allows me to focus on what’s at hand. It also helps me to remove all the thoughts in my head and become more at peace. The days that I haven’t been super stressed out – I will do yoga. The days where it’s been harder I tend to do more spinning, running, or kick boxing. I find that this allows me to keep the peaceful feeling flowing when I’m having a good day and to expell all the anger and resentment I may be harboring on the other days.

Candles and a Hot Bath – 

Hot baths can do wonders for the body and soul. I highly recommend this one especially before bed. I have found that a hot bath with a soothing candle can create an atmosphere of peace where one can feel completely rested. This allows the mind to relax and the body to let go of any stress. If you are like me – you come out ready for a nap.

Avoiding Social Media – 

To be honest – I’m rarely on twitter, instagram, or facebook. I find that they harbor so much negativity that my life is far less complicated or stressful when I’m not on them. I have also found, mainly because I manage a restaurant, that if I’m at home – I need to put my phone down. I also set it on silent so I can ignore any work messages until a certain time frame has passed. I will tell you that being on your phone 24/7 is unhealthy and creates a need for more drama than you can fill. It will cause your mind to never be able to shut down and really – not everyone’s issue needs to be ours. This is the one thing that my husband has to remind me of constantly and it’s the continual source of my frustration. I’m working on trying to put down my phone more often and I recommend you do the same.

 

Honestly,

It’s hard trying to de-stress. It’s hard trying to avoid certain habits that we have created and it’s hard starting new ones. I’m not much for exercising but I have found I need the outlet. I’m always attached to my phone – and I have found I need to put it down. If you have tips and tricks that you find help you de-stress I would love to hear about them. Everyone is different and so each item is going to suit people differently. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.