I’ve had a good week. I have been dedicated to doing my runs — I’m now at 3 minute running intervals. And, with my new tracker, I have also been dedicated to making sure I have 10,000 steps per day. This has been a very helpful motivator for me on days where I have no plans and I would often stay in bed. This week, at least, I’ve beat the temptation. And the more I am active, the more I feel like being active. Yay!
I’ve been reading a lot lately on the benefits of exercise for depression and other mental illnesses. And the benefits for the brain in general. I find it helpful to think in terms blazing new pathways in my brain and how I have to keep reinforcing them to make them strong and replace the old, well-worn paths.
So that’s where I am right now. Finding my way out of the funk of winter and easing my way back to an active lifestyle with walks and short running intervals.
A friend just pointed out that it has been over a month since my last post, which was a sad one. I’m happy to report that many days since then have been better. I’m starting to suspect that SAD impacts my depression and the weird hours of my job are exacerbating this. The good news is that spring is supposedly on the way… Despite all the snow today!
I’m starting to feel a bit more energized and have started doing more regular exercise. Yoga and running – for real this time! I’ve talked a lot about running in the past and how I wanted to get back to running half marathons, something I did prior to my major depressive breakdown. After several years of setting myself up for failure with my big goals, I’ve taken things back to the beginning with much more success. For the last month I’ve been running intervals for about half an hour, one to three times a week. At first I did intervals of one minute walking, one running, and now I’ve done a couple of weeks at two minutes running, one walking. It’s nice, manageable, pushes me gently and makes me feel better. I’m up to 3.75 km and should have a nice base in place when I can finally start running outside (once the snow melts).
I’ve also just bought myself a Fitbit to encourage myself to stay active. I’ve had it for a week and it’s been clear that I have some very inactive days. I’m hoping to start evening this out by tracking my steps. I’m also reading the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and it makes quite the case for regular exercise to treat depression. I’ll write more on this once I finish the book.
Wow, it’s been over a month since my last post! My WordPress 2014 Year in Review report shows a definite drop in activity, from posting nearly daily last winter and spring to once month or so in the fall. I’ve missed blogging and this great community so I will try to be more active again. 🙂
With the new year, it is of course time for resolutions. But instead, I heard about another idea that I would like to try: making new year mantras. I like the idea because it’s not so absolute as a resolution — I will always do this or never do that. Instead it’s like regularly reaffirming an intention — much better for my perfectionist self, who avoids anything with the potential for failure. (And who sees the first small mistake as failure…)
I have yet to create my mantras, but it’s something I intend to put my mind to this week. A year or two ago my therapist recommended I do the same, so I think it will be a good step.
Speaking of perfectionism, I’ve been listening to an interesting e-book while doing some boring tasks. It’s called The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert. I’ll write more on this once I’ve finished it, but it looks at the following:
the evolution of the human brain
how our brains and bodies are programmed to work and their discord with modern life
perfectionism and criticism and how they contribute to anxiety and depression
what compassion is and how it can be used in daily life
how a compassionate approach can help those with depression and anxiety, anger and other issues.
The section on criticism, perfectionism and anxiety made me realize that I focus a lot on my depression, but not so much on the anxiety that (I think) causes it. Most of what he says really resonates and I’m interested in trying out some of the compassion exercises he recommends in order to develop compassion skills. He says it’s all about practice and exercise, just like with building physical fitness. We’ll see if I can teach this old brain some new tricks!
Have any of you read some interesting thoughts on compassion? Do you have a mantra that really works for you?