A couple of weeks ago I received the news that the Milton Keynes marathon was being postponed from the beginning of May to the end of June. Normally this news wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, but the MK marathon is the start of my 5 in 5 for Mind challenge, so I had to decide whether to postpone the whole thing or not.
While I was a little disappointed, my general feeling was that it was good news because it would give me that bit more time to prepare, so I decided to delay my challenge in line with the new date for the MK marathon.
The new start date for the #5in5forMind challenge is Sunday 27th June 2021.
With my 5 in 5 marathon challenge, I’m encouraging all of you to get out and exercise as a way of improving your mental wellbeing. We all know about the benefits of exercise to our physical health, but less is known, or understood about how exercise helps our mood, and how it can aid with managing anxiety and depression.
It’s not as straight forward as saying ‘exercise and you’ll feel better’, because sometimes it feels just the opposite. Exercise takes effort, motivation and dedication; you can be easily motivated at the start, but as it gets harder, or winter arrives, the gloss can soon loose it’s shine.
You don’t have to struggle with a mental health disability to understand that it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise. Most people lead such busy lives that they don’t feel they have time to exercise, and often feel too tired when they do have time.
It can also contribute more stress, especially if you are not confident about your ability and how you look physically. Just one glimpse inside a gym or a quick search of social media can make you feel inferior and self-conscious.
My decision to run 5 marathons in five consecutive days, has a touch of the bonkers about it, and I’m the first to admit it does; I sometimes stop and ask myself ‘what the hell am I thinking?’
I can comfortably run a half marathon, but the thought of doing twice that distance in one go still feels daunting.
The initial concerns were mainly physical; thinking about eating properly, and recovery between runs (which I think will include the dreaded ice bath)! However, there is also going to be a psychological side to this challenge, which will need equal consideration.
The other week, I was lucky enough to be connected to the Sports Science team at the University of Hertfordshire (by Juanita Prescott from Stevenage Leisure Limited), and I had a great chat about the psychology of endurance challenges with Stephen Pack, who is a HCPC Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist.
Have you ever wondered what controls our mood? What makes us feel happy, sad, or afraid?
The answer is chemical messengers called NEUROTRANSMITTERS; they are key players in helping to understand anxiety, and the physical reactions associated with it.
As we learnt in my blog Anxiety & The Brain, Part 5, the brain is made up of millions of neurons, and it’s these neurons that release the neurotransmitters in a process called FIRING. There Are different types of neurotransmitter, and the ones that get released depends on the information received from our senses, and the emotion that our brain associates with that information.
Firstly, we need to look at the different types of neurotransmitter, and the effect each one has on our body and mind.
At the moment I’m fighting a constant battle between depression and positivity; I can spend days with a low mood, which literally paralyses me to a point that even doing simple tasks is a challenge; I then get angry and very irritable.
I haven’t really explored depression that much, I’ve spent most of my time focusing on anxiety but as the two normally go hand-in-hand, I think it’s about time I started giving both equal attention.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be depressed; like anxiety, it can be quite unnerving, illogical, and pretty hard to understand if you haven’t been there. My brain can think logically, I can be aware of what is happening, and come up with ideas and solutions, but physically doing things takes an immense amount of energy; I often compare it to wading through treacle.
I think a lot of people liken depression to boredom, or just feeling a bit sad, but it’s a lot worse than that; it lasts for long periods of time and it makes you question your whole existence; I’m constantly asking myself “what’s the point?”