Small Steps Toward Health: Nature’s Prozac

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of change. My husband resigned from his job at the fire department after almost two decades of service and began training for his new position at a children’s hospital. My beloved Honda Fit died. Our kids were out of school multiple days for a snow break and we had a child with strep throat. In the midst of so much change, I sometimes struggled with anxiety and needing time to process all that was taking place. In all this wonderful chaos, I have clung to what I have found to be better than an antidepressant. Something that calms my nerves and helps me release and process my feelings: exercising every day. As I shared earlier this month, I’ve been able to take small steps over the past few years that have hugely impacted my overall health and well-being. I’ve also talked a little on the blog about my lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. The past few weeks have been a lot to process (especially for someone who thrives on routine and stability) and I’ve been able to do so with a lot more grace than in past scenarios. Mainly because I’ve learned that nothing helps me stay calm like taking the time to give my body the exercise it needs.

Exercising consistently  has been a huge learning curve over the past few years.  But when you have several weeks like we’ve had it makes all the difference in the world. Somehow, in the midst of the bedlam of life, I’ve managed to stay relatively calm. Sure, I’ve had moments where I’ve snapped, but when I make the time to work out I go into this wonderful zone where I can follow the instructor or video and just process life.

I wish I could say I have mastered this, but I’m still learning how to juggle life and self-care. I have found though, that it helps when I make a plan. Every Saturday I sit down and plan the next week – including my workout routine. I’m a creature of habit so I usually do Barre twice, weights two to three times, cycling or some form or cardio twice and yoga. I only do workouts that I actually like. I’ve tried to become a runner several times only to hate every minute of running. And yes, I mean hate. Everything about it was completely miserable. The runners high proved elusive. However, I love Barre, cycling, and lifting weights, so that’s what I focus on doing each week.

As much as I try to workout each day, sometimes it doesn’t happen and I have to remind myself that it’s ok. I’m not a complete flake if I miss a couple of days here and there. I do try to be consistent since it’s part of my personal “treatment plan” for my depression (among other things). But I also am learning to give myself grace and not expect perfection. Life happens. Self-care has never been my strong point and so learning to value myself enough to take care of my body and soul is something I am consciously focusing on in this season. I love my children so much, but I can’t give to them out of my own emptiness. Sometimes I’ve felt guilty for spending time at the gym when I could be with them. Then I realize that valuing myself enough to care for my body is also giving them a gift. It is showing them that prioritizing your own needs, in a healthy way, does not make you selfish. It can actually make you a better person when you choose to take care of yourself.

 

May you find joy this week in your busy nothings!

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