I’ve changed the theme of this fitness post three times now because I wasn’t feeling it and honestly, I haven’t been feeling myself lately.
If you read a few posts back, you know that my mom passed away the day before Thanksgiving last year. So, I thought I would be sad last week and to my surprise I was okay. Probably because I was busy, Dave was off from work and I was distracted so aside from thinking about it, I didn’t dwell on it and I wasn’t crying or even very sad.
That all changed yesterday when I literally had to force myself out of bed and I was a pretty much a sad zombie all day long. I didn’t want to do anything and didn’t care about deadlines or much of anything and even ate Carmel topping, the kind you put on ice cream, straight out of the jar. And while that would’ve lasted until I climbed back into bed to go to sleep, I was forced to go to the gym to teach my boot camp, Pilates and spin class. The thought crossed my mind to cancel, I never would, but in the past exercise has always pulled me out of the funk I was in and in this case, it did as well. It helped during numerous breakups, bad work days, the month we spent with my sister in the hospital and her recovery after, it helped when my dog Rose passed away after having her for 12 years and it certainly helped to deal with my mom’s battle with cancer and her passing.
The holidays are particularly hard for some because the loss of a loved one or just in general, it’s a depressing time for some with all the holiday cheer and none of their own to reflect on. According to mentalhealth.net, it is estimated that up to 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.
While I get paid to workout and love it, some people would rather do anything other than workout especially when they’re feeling down. But I’m telling you from my own experience, just getting up and moving helps.
How does exercise help depression and anxiety?
Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:
- Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being
- Taking your mind off worries you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety
Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:
- Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
- Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
- Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
By the end of my spin class, my zombie-like state that I was feeling earlier in the day had been replaced by my normal, mostly positive personality and the only thing I did differently was getting out to move.
Now you’re probably thinking, Alison it’s easy for you to say this because you’re a fitness instructor and have a permanent schedule, making it easy for you to incorporate exercise into your schedule. While this is true, we can all move somehow, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a gym setting.
- If you have a dog, take a walk or better yet take your dog to the dog park. Your dog can run and probably do some funny things with other dogs and you can strike up some conversations with the other dog moms and dads.
- Grab a friend to gab with and move with! Whether it’s taking a walk around your neighborhood or taking your favorite class at the gym together, exercise is always better with someone!
- Head to the mall. I know it sounds crazy, but think about how much you walk around the mall when you shop. And you can put the wallet away and just walk and window shop. Outdoor malls are the best this time of year because there are so many holiday displays to look at.
- If you do own a gym membership, try a different workout or class. It sounds funny, but when I take a class that is out of my comfort zone, like Zumba for example, I embarrass myself, but I also have fun and feel like I really accomplished something.
Holidays can be tough and it’s OKAY to not be the cheery person all the time. We are all human and feeling a little blue this time of year is understandable. Just remember to get out and move! It really does help!!! I hope you all have an amazing holiday season with your loved ones! Xoxo Alison
If you are feeling depressed or contemplating suicide or know someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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Photography by: KSTU Photography