By Wes Annac, Openhearted Rebellion
I’m not the type to brag about working out, because it feels self-centered. Look at me with my workout! I’m so much better than you! I don’t want to seem full of myself or make anyone feel bad about their lifestyle if they choose not to exercise.
Despite this, I rely on exercise as it boosts my confidence and helps my mental health. It feels good to physically work hard. For me, writing about it increases that feeling of satisfaction.
If I don’t safeguard my mental health, it quickly takes a nosedive. I get stuck in my head and overthink my life to the point that it makes me hate myself. I over-examine my relationships with friends and family, deciding nobody cares and I should stop trying to connect with anyone.
It is a terrible feeling to convince yourself you’re alone when all evidence points to the contrary. I’m actually lucky in that I do have friends and family who care enough to show some love. When I’m lost in my thoughts and wallowing in negativity, however, those reassuring sentiments don’t mean much.
After hours stuck in an unrelenting pattern of negative thinking, I’ll feel like my only option is to give up hope and stop being positive. If nobody cares, then what’s the point? I know how irrational this sounds, but that’s the way poor mental health makes you think.
Prior to getting a part-time job last September, I spent most of my time indoors sitting and typing away at my computer for a living. For too long, I had no working vehicle and no incentive to get out of the house. It took a heavy toll.
Throughout 2019, I was depressed and anxious nearly all the time. I was writing about love and spiritual evolution, yet my personal growth felt stalled. I wasn’t going anywhere in my career or my mental, emotional, or spiritual development. Meanwhile, life was getting harder and demanding more from me.
Along with finding a part-time job, which got me out of the house for a few hours a day and gave me a fresh perspective, I’d gotten a gym membership but hesitated to use it. Exercising in front of other people felt awkward, and I was more comfortable with my easier at-home exercises though they didn’t do much for me.
I started to develop a decent workout routine right before the pandemic caused my gym to close. My routine mostly boiled down to playing basketball or getting some other cardio in, but eventually, I got more comfortable lifting weights.
I initially felt strange and out of my element working out around people who were clearly more experienced, because I am not at all the kind of person you’d expect to see in a weight room. Working out around these strangers was a big leap for me, a scrawny long-haired hippie, to take.
But I had to do something.
I’m only in my 20s, but I’m not getting any younger. If I don’t take better care of my body and mind, I know I’ll fall further into a sedentary, depressed life.
Once the pandemic hit, I was out of work and out of a place to get my much-needed exercise. I was able to fall back on this writing/blogging job here at home, but it didn’t take long for the stuck-at-home blues to return.
Now that my gym has reopened and I’m back to work, I’m in the process of resuming and expanding on my workout routine. It is exactly what I’ve needed.
If I’m ever stuck with negative thoughts and I haven’t exercised, I know it’s time to get back on that horse. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t always want to. It would be easier to go straight home after work than to do push-ups, pull-ups, squats; crunches; box jumps; etc. until my body screams at me to stop.
For my mental health, though, the difference is like night and day.
Along with earning a feeling of accomplishment, I can work through the toxicity in my mind to the point that it basically goes away. In my experience, it is not a myth that exercise soothes the mind. It is a fact.
This is where I should point out that despite my experiences with it, exercise is not a magic cure for depression. There are various forms of depression that affect people in different ways. Personally, I’m in a much better place than I was last year. I get depressed sometimes, but I don’t have diagnosable depression. That distinction is important.
Mine is one of the least serious forms of depression. In medical terms, you couldn’t even classify it as “mild”. A loved one of mine suffers from “mild” depression, and it is far more severe than what I go through. Exercise can be an effective treatment for mild or serious depressive episodes, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Those people who think their depressed friends just need to get up and run or lift weights are sorely misguided. Their intentions are usually good, but they just don’t understand depression. I don’t fully understand it, and I know someone who goes through it.
I’m one of the lucky ones; my negative thoughts overwhelm me at times, but I can work through the pain by working out.
I never realized pushing yourself physically is a superpower that helps you develop discipline and a better outlook on life. Now that I know, I plan to get the most out of this newfound passion for exercise.
So, I guess now I’m one of those uppity people who post to social media about their workout. I’m not trying to get likes or feed my ego, but express joy and gratitude for this outlet I never knew I needed. Thanks to it, I can now get through my day without having my confidence crushed by the weight of my own self-loathing.
Right now, that’s what I need.
For anyone with a mental health issue, no matter how big or small, I will always recommend exercise while acknowledging that it is not the perfect solution some people believe it to be. Beyond that, I can only show compassion and hope that one day, you find the perfect treatment for you.
Above all, please remember you are not alone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mild to severe depression or suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. We are all in this together.
Wes Annac 🙂
About Wes Annac:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, love, awareness, activism, and other crazy stuff. I run Openhearted Rebellion – a blog dedicated to sharing wisdom and encouraging a revolution that begins in the heart.
I also run Cannac – a blog in which I share some of my research and opinions on cannabis. There, I write about everything from legalization to hemp and the various ways people use the cannabis plant.
I’ve contributed to a few awesome websites that include Waking Times, Wake Up World, Golden Age of Gaia, and The Master Shift. I can be found on Facebook (facebook.com/wesannac, facebook.com/cultureofawareness) and Twitter (twitter.com/Wes_Annac, https://twitter.com/love rebellion)
If you enjoyed this post and want to support my work, consider donating via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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