“You know, if you exercised more you wouldn’t be as depressed.”
The infamous words that every person loves to hear. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding those words, but people love to give their opinion on your situation, even when it is desperately not wanted.
Never in my life, when someone has come up to me and given their thoughts on how to be less depressed or anxious, has it ever been asked for, or helpful.
Depression isn’t as simple as “just getting up and going for a walk.” In fact, hearing you say that makes me want to get out of bed even less. Because, when you’re in that state, sometimes you physically can’t. And if you can, one walk is not going to magically make your life better.
I used to roll my eyes back in my head and want to scream whenever someone said these words to me. I wanted to yell at them that they don’t know what it’s like. That it’s not as easy as just getting up.
I’m not saying that exercise is bad. I’ve been a dancer all my life. It’s just when someone tells you to do something over and over again, as if they have ultimate authority and knowledge, it just makes you really not want to do that thing.
But I have to concede a little bit here. Because as much as I hate hearing those words, they have some truth to them.
I recently started boxing, partly because I needed a release for stress and anger and partly because I honestly just thought it was cool. And the past few months of training have been some of the hardest in my life. I’m constantly sore and hurting. But I’ve also noticed the difference in how I feel. When I box, I lose myself in the exercise. The adrenaline and challenge of the workout is all I can focus on, and while it’s difficult and harsh, the high afterwards is so worth it. It’s an adrenaline rush, and it makes me feel powerful and like I can conquer anything. It’s a positive, happy feeling.
So, as much as I loathe people who tell me, and anyone else dealing with depression, anxiety or any other form of mental illness, that exercising will make everything better; I do have to give them a little bit of leeway. Because if you can force yourself to exercise when you’re in a bad state, it actually can make a difference, even if it’s just for a little while.
The best advice I can give from someone who’s been there, is to wait until you’re ready to want to push yourself. If you feel forced to work out, you might resent it and that’s not the point. Make yourself want to do it and look forward to it. Because I know that now, I do.
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