It is well documented that exercise is a great mood booster for those with depression and anxiety. However sometimes, when we take a long break from it we find it challenging to get back into the routine of it all, or even start again. Here are some ways to get started again.
Know that you can control how little or how much you want to do
This is an exercise in self compassion. Lofty goals of wanting to start running each day or exercising minimum five days are week are well intentioned, but it is difficult to keep the motivation going if you don’t meet that goal. Simply put it is often necessary to remind yourself that it is ok if you only do five or ten minutes of exercise if that is all you can muster up. If on the off chance you decide to do more than what you intended to do- that’s great. Ultimately you have the control, choice and consent to do whatever you want if and when you feel like it.
Surround yourself with people who are supportive and understanding
People who are at a similar stage of fitness with you or understand your health and fitness history are natural allies compared to people who already make exercise and fitness a part of their life. You’ll also get less of the annoying “Let’s go for a run- it will make you feel better” comments. Although well intentioned, for those who haven’t been in the throes of anxiety or depression, they may not realise that is it harder than it looks to sometimes motivate yourself even to do seemingly basic tasks. People who are supportive and understanding will be sympathetic to times when you may cancel or find it difficult to get started or keep going. They will be flexible to the reality of living with a mood disorder.
Always start small and make it easy
The adage of “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” seems fitting here. After a long break from exercise it may be hard to get started and to keep motivated. This is even harder for people with anxiety or depression. Start with movements that don’t seem out of your natural routine. This will be easier to sustain in the long run rather than leaping right into an exercise class with strangers. Try starting with simple stretches home or following a class on Youtube. If it get too much, you can always pause the class. If that proves successful, you may consider doing simple exercises outdoors by yourself or with an understanding friend. Once you’ve done this a few times, you will be able to do any classes with strangers.
Make exercising as easy as possible. Leave your clothes or equipment out in plain view. You can even wear it around the house so when the mood strikes at least you’re attired properly. If you remove all possible obstacles to your exercise and prime your environment it more likely you’ll get started. This could be removing your phone from your bedroom if you know you have a habit of scrolling your phone in the morning, scheduling it on your calendar multiple times if you know you need constant reminders, or keeping your home warm in winter because you know you hate changing or exercising in cold weather.
At Mood Active, we help people experiencing mild to moderate depression, anxiety and other mood disorders – such as Bipolar, PTSD, SAD and more – get back on their feet through exercise. We offer affordable exercise programs with the extra outreach. We also have coaching support and supervision needed for those who are struggling with their motivation. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.