January 20, 2012

Exercise - How to make yourself get up and go!

Are you one of those who diligently agrees to the fact that exercise is critical for our health, but immediately laments over your lack of "time" or "pressure" for the inability to do so? Well, for such innovative excusers  like us, here is a nice snippet I found at Peaceful Mind - an interesting approach to help you get up from your bed and wear those shoes! 

Overcoming the inertia of anxiety/depression with Exercise
Of course, knowing that something's good for you doesn't make it any easier to actually do it. Most people in the general population don't engage in any regular physical activity or quit shortly after starting an exercise program. 

Depression and anxiety can make it even more difficult to get active. By its nature, depression means that you don't enjoy activities, that you're often fatigued or sedentary, that you just don't feel like it, that you lack motivation, or that you don't stick to treatment regimens very well. You may have a hard enough time doing household chores, showering or going to work. How can you possibly consider adding exercise to the mix?
Overcoming that inertia can be difficult. 

Another challenge is maintaining, or adhering to, an activity program. Setting realistic goals, doing some problem solving, and recognizing that exercise won't always be fun or easy can help.

Identify what you enjoy. Figure out what type of exercise or activities you're more likely and less likely to do, as well as where, when and how often.  

Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn't have to be to walk for an hour five days a week. Even a 10-minute walk can help lift your mood, get you into a more positive environment and refocus your thoughts, even temporarily, away from negative or self-critical thinking patterns. Custom-tailor your plan to your own needs and abilities. 

Break it down. It might be good to have an overall exercise strategy. But focusing on the perfect plan or an ideal rather than what's realistic for you can sabotage your efforts. Don't start with the ideal and work backward. Start with the realistic and work forward. Break your program down into smaller parts. If you can't fathom walking for 45 minutes, what is possible? Fifteen minutes? Five minutes? Start there, and build on that foundation. 

For many people, just getting shoes on and getting out the door is the majority of the effort. That's the hardest part. Once we're moving, though, it's often easier to keep moving. So put your energy into the front end into just getting started. 

Have short-term coping strategies. You may have a structured exercise program that calls for activity several times a week at the local gym. But plan for active ways to cope immediately and quickly with unexpected negative moods, depression, anxiety or other issues. For instance, even if it's your day off from exercise, taking a 10-minute walk may quickly help lift your mood if you're sad or anxious or find yourself focusing on negative thoughts. Try to respond to a negative mood with physical activity. 

Don't think of exercise as a burden. If exercise is just another "should" in your life that you don't think you're living up to, you'll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or antidepressant medication as one of the tools to help your treatment. Reframe the way you think about physical activity. Don't think of it as just another thing that you should be doing, but can't because of all of the demands in your life. Instead, think of it as something positive that you can do now to help you meet your goals, including feeling better physically and emotionally. 

Address your barriers. Identify your individual barriers to launching a program. If you're self-conscious, for instance, you might not want to exercise in public. If anxiety or depression makes you feel like you're carrying a heavy weight around, the idea of moving on purpose, doing something active, can seem absurd. The barriers may feel overwhelming. But when you have depression, it's easy to overestimate difficulty. Instead, develop a strategy to overcome or get around those barriers. If you don't want to go to a crowded gym, perhaps you can go to a quiet park or use a home treadmill or bike. If you're put off by the thought of spending 30 minutes jogging, aim for five minutes of walking instead of just doing nothing. If five minutes seems daunting, try two minutes. 

Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Exercise isn't always easy or fun. And it's tempting to blame yourself for that. People with depression are especially likely to feel shame over perceived failures. Don't fall into that trap. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. Chances are, you're going to come to a time when it gets really hard. If you say that you're a failure, that you blew it, that you have to start all over, you're more likely to quit altogether. Recognize that change is hard and setbacks are part of the change process. By learning how to cope with setbacks, you'll learn skills that will help you stay active over the long term.

I definitely got motivated after reading this note. Hopefully, you would find something relevant to motivate you as well! :)

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