I’m not quite sure where to start with this one…. I think I’ll go for starting at the beginning and then getting to the bit with the not running!
Regular readers of this occasional blog will know that I have been living with generalised anxiety pretty much forever. As others with this condition know it comes in waves, for me the gap between the big waves has been wider over the last 10 years up until about two years ago. Since then my anxiety has been like a choppy sea, waves all over the place! Things got particularly bad in the autumn of last year and all the tools I have in my box to try and keep things balanced during the waves had got lost somewhere. I was finding it hard to manage to do the most simple things in my routine and apart from going to work there was little energy to spare for anything else. I was pretty broken and very tired. Thankfully I had a lovely long holiday over Christmas, twelve days off work to rest, destress and try to get myself better. In that slightly weird period between Christmas and New Year, when it’s ok to eat chocolate for breakfast and have a drink everyday, I saw a couple of my pals sign up for REDJanuary. I thought this sounded like a really good way to get me back on track with exercise.
Exercise has always been a bit of an odd one for me, I know it’s good for me, it definitely helps with my physical and mental wellbeing but it’s also a massive anxiety trigger. When you exercise your heart rate increases, I associate that with panic attacks and being out of control so as you can imagine it’s quite a fine line to balance between fun and terror! Everytime I have a mental health blip I have to relearn the whole “your heart rate is raised because you are exercising not because you are panicking”. Imagine saying this about every two minutes for a whole workout and you got pretty much where I’m at most of the time! This is why gym classes (like Fitsteps) which need you to think as well as do are great, less time for that pesky brain to get a look in.
I was also keen to join REDJanuary to show that actually it’s not just about Running Every Day (the original idea behind RED) but it’s about moving everyday. I set out to show that it doesn’t have to be about pounding the pavements, but it can be. It doesn’t have to be about spending hours in the gym, or dressing up in lycra, it can be sticking your trainers on with your PJs and doing a workout in front of the TV. Just getting moving every single day can make a difference to your mental and physical health. I also decided to post my workouts on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/sudnipics/ to help share the love!
To get this work I had to look at ways I could be active when I didn’t have a lot of time, I started going out for a walk in my lunch break, and parking my car further away from work so I could stomp in and stomp home. I also tried some new classes and got back in the gym, I hit Lucy Wyndham Read’s Youtube workouts https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCag7XoiJLutjBTsM0tAzUzg and resurrected the living room disco (stick on your favourite playlist and dance around your front room!). It’s not always been easy but I trained with a sprained ankle (gently!) which would have just made me retreat the the sofa before, I did something even if it was just a walk around the block even when I didn’t want to and I’m proud of myself for pushing myself to do it.
Day 31 is here and how do I feel? Well my anxiety is still about, but to be fair it’s never going to go away but it does feel more manageable. I feel like I have got some routine back in my life and I make time to exercise instead of just curling up on the sofa. My stress feels better managed as I can smash it out in the gym, I’m sleeping better and my trousers are a bit looser. As I said on my insta post yesterday, when I feel down I have a habit of crawling into my big blue hoodie and hiding from it all, this month I’ve tried to get into my RED T-shirt instead. I am hopeful that 2019 will be more RED T-shirt than blue jumper.
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me this month, my friends at Medina Leisure Centre who have smiled and asked how I am, and the instructors running great classes to keep me motivated. My fitbit buddies chalking up the steps and all my friends and family who have been on walks with me. Everyone who has liked a instagram post to make me see that I am accountable and there is someone watching so I can’t cheat!