We all have routines and rhythms that work well for us. Maybe yours is morning coffee before the family gets up. Maybe it’s a long walk in the evenings. One of my own routines is to rest on Sunday from my workouts and runs. I try to walk, do yoga and, in general, relax and let my body recover from a week of tough workouts and parenting full time.
However, I have struggled with anxiety for many years, and in recent weeks it has been a bigger struggle than normal.
What does that mean for me? It means my guilt over every little thing I spend time on, or don’t have time for, is in overdrive. It means I struggle to make simple decisions, let alone big ones. It means I stress over that thing I said or did weeks ago that I shouldn’t have said or done. It means constantly feeling like my chest is heavy and forcing myself to take deep breaths.
Usually I can stay on top of this anxiety, but lately it’s been tough. I sense I’m not alone in this. We could blame the oppressive summer heat or the full moon, but in reality it’s clear that heightened political awareness, a global pandemic, as well as impossible decisions like whether we should send our kids back to school, are looming and cannot be avoided. If I had a dollar for every time my husband and I wondered, “Can we just ignore everything going on?” we’d be packing for Belize.
Recently, I spent a Sunday during which I simply could not rest. The jittery anxiety was at a fever pitch, and I needed to ditch it somewhere. Walking, yoga and relaxing were just not options, so I laced up my shoes for a run, even in the heat of the Indiana sun. It was a long, hard, sweaty six-mile run. My music was blaring, my feet were pounding, and for the first time in a while, I felt like I could leave my cares at home, even if it was just for an hour.
While the rhythm of rest works for me, so does the rhythm of movement.
When you see people post their workouts, a run they completed or a project they accomplished, remember that many of them are doing it for their mental health. Many are doing it because it’s the one thing they can control. Many are doing it because the roads or the gym are their safe place, where they can just be themselves. Many are doing it for the release of stress and for the endorphins that keep them afloat. Many have a tough time taking a day off because it feels like skipping their anti-anxiety meds. Many are doing it for bigger reasons than you might think.
We post our workouts for the same reasons any of us post anything – we feel proud. We want to inspire others. We want to share a big moment. We want to put a stone down in the sand to remind ourselves that we can do this, one day at a time.
So can you. We are all in this together. We have tools – movement, sunshine, gratitude, community, service to others, and even a simple cup of coffee. Use them, and reach out for help if you need it.