I have gone back and forth with running as a fitness program. In my early twenties, I struggled to enjoy it partly because I thought I was bad at it and partly because I lived in New Orleans and it was really hot and unmotivating. When I moved to Maryland, I became more avid. I would run six miles every morning to start my day. Then I got into work and fell off the habit. I tried to use running as a chance to run off my energy and stress. I took the opportunity to run as therapy. It worked when I didn't really set expectations for it.
With depression and anxiety, sometimes we stop exercising and lose all motivation to do activities. It can be hard to work through this but finding one thing that you can control and own can be something to start with. For me, running and setting a workout schedule is my time to control the narrative. I can imagine scenarios with my runs and get out any anger that I have. Sometimes it's fantasy, sometimes it's vengeance. It all depends on my mood.
If you are someone who wants to find therapy with exercise, here are my tips.
Tip 1: Don't let anyone in
This is the hardest one for me but it is important. Doing something for yourself requires personal accountability. I have found that when someone else gets involved they can become the controlling partner and create strife. You lose the control that you were seeking become part of another toxic circle. You should do it for you. It's great to have a motivating support system but not someone that you solely rely on to keep you accountable. You have to hold yourself to the goals that you set and deal with it.
Tip 2: Be realistic with yourself
When you start out with a new program, you need to assess your current level of fitness and goals that you want to accomplish. This will help in setting yourself up for structure and stability. If you overreach your ability, then you risk injury and burnout. Starting with small steps and honestly listening to your body and your needs, you will be more likely to stick to the program and develop within it.
Tip 3: Don't stop for nothing
Don't let negativity or problems deter you. Don't stop doing what you enjoy because of little things. Work with the hiccups and keep moving forward. From experience, I know that when I give up, it is so much harder to get into it again. Setting reminders for yourself and rewarding yourself can help you keep going and stay motivated. Work with your motivation schema and help yourself to stick to the new workout. You'll be so much happier if you keep at it.
Tip 4: Be kind to yourself and those around you
Kindness is key to a good life. When you are trying something new or pushing a new goal, you may find yourself struggling to be kind. When I started intermittent fasting, I had a hard time holding in my negative thoughts. I had to address the fact that no one else is responsible for my attachment to food. No one deserves to be treated poorly because I'm in a bad mood. When you work with kindness and positivity, you will find it come back to you.
With these tips, I hope you take the steps to engage yourself and find what you want to work on. Maybe you like me want to go for a run in order to get out energy and stress or maybe you have another workout in mind. The main thing is to stick with it!