Thursday, May 7, 2015

Being Active Is Your Right

       So often in the past, I have felt guilty about exercising. When I am depressed or anxious about all the things that I have to get done, I often put exercise at the bottom of my to-do list. This has always proved to be detrimental. 

       I believe in helping others. Besides exercise, nothing brings me more comfort from my illnesses than helping someone else. That being said, I cannot help anyone if I don't take care of myself first. If I put off getting outside and moving, then I tend to start going downhill. At first, it is imperceptible until I finally start to realize that I am depressed, irritable and anxious. Surprisingly, it always catches me off guard; I never see it coming. It can go on like that for over a month before I realize what has happened. 

       Because I live in a Westernized civilization (the United States), I was taught from an early age that I must stay busy. "Idle hands are the devil's play ground." Excuse me while I go vomit. So often I feel guilty about going for a walk/jog/hike. I'M SCREAMING IN A PILLOW RIGHT NOW! What is wrong with me? 

       The thing that connects me more than anything else to this beautiful planet, simply getting out and enjoying it, I have been conditioned to believe is a waste of time. Let me tell you, my friends, I have found that it is not. I want to give you a quote that helps me whenever I am feeling as if I should be doing something "important." 

       Before I do I want to point out that in each post I have given a little bit of the science behind why exercising is so good for our brain chemistry. I want to do so again and for good reason. Previously I believed that I had to spend hours running to get the desired results. If all I  have is twenty minutes, I seize it. Look at these brain scans after only a twenty-minute brisk walk!
This scan shows how our cognitive skills are enhanced after a twenty-minute walk.
This scan shows how our overall brain function increases after a twenty-minute walk.

       The point of this post is to let you know that I had to remind myself that I am a human. I'm not a cog in someone else's machine. I am a runner. I have hopes and dreams and aspirations and loves in my life. If my to-do list is too long, then I start crossing things off. I have to take care of myself, especially with my conditions. 

       If I check off all the things on my to-do list, but I have to crawl to the corner so I can curl up in the fetal position, should I be proud of myself? I did complete my tasks. I did pull myself up by my bootstraps and fight on. Yay, me? I had to say enough to this madness. I decided to be human again. Here is the quote, as promised, that helps me remember the importance of walking/jogging/hiking/exercise. No science needed to understand this.

     I WISH TO SPEAK a word for nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and Culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make a emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization; the minister, and the school-committee, and every one of you will take care of that.

    I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre" — to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a sainte-terrer", a saunterer — a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels.  -Henry David Thoreau

       I will, "...go forth and reconquer..." the holy land that is my mind. I hope you are able to do the same. 
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As always I wish you wonderful mental health and great successes at eating healthy meals. If you, or someone you love, is severely depressed or anxious, please click the link to the right and you will be directed to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. It is a great resource and is staffed by wonderful people.
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