Exercise for Better Mental Health.

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.

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Anxiety & The Brain, Part 10: Neurotransmitters.

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.

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Depression & Positivity

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?”

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Looking for the Positives in the Storm.

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a rather unique year.  You don’t need me to re-cap everything and I’m certainly not going to dwell on the negative stuff, instead I want to try and start the new year with a degree of optimism.

I know some of you may not feel very optimistic and have good reason to struggle to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  Trust me, it has taken a lot for me to get writing again, let alone write an ‘optimistic’ blog, considering my experiences of the last 5 months, but I hope this story may help.

Back in August we got a call from our lettings agent, telling us that our Landlord was selling the house and therefore terminating the tenancy.

My initial reaction was rather spectacular, I basically fell apart.

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The Mountain – Laura Ding-Edwards

If the mountain seems too big today
then climb a hill instead
if the morning brings you sadness
it’s ok to stay in bed
if the day ahead weighs heavy
and your plans feel like a curse
there’s no shame in re-arranging
don’t make yourself feel worse
if a shower stings like needles
and a bath feels like you’ll drown
if you haven’t washed your hair for days
don’t throw away your crown
a day is not a lifetime
a rest is not defeat
don’t think of it as failure
just a quiet, kind retreat
it’s ok to take a moment
from an anxious, fractured mind
the world will not stop turning
while you get realigned
the mountain will still be there
when you want to try again
you can climb it in your own time
just love yourself til then

by Laura Ding-Edwards