When I was little, movement was sports and games. I team hated sports because I am not really coordinated, I'm not competitive, and I was super self-conscious someone was mad at me for messing up. Soccer, volleyball, and softball teams, games in gym class... yikes, they were no fun for me. Movement always felt like it was for the athletic kids but not me!
And then when I was a young adult, I got into fitness VHS tapes like Tae Bo and 8 Minute Abs and DVDs like 21 Day Fix and Insanity. I also worked with a few personal trainers and did a few in person bootcamps. I trained for races and then longer races! The focus was always on sweating a ton, burning a ton of calories, and making my body hurt after the workout.
I'm 36 as I type this and will be 37 at the end of December...
I started using the #movementformentalhealth hashtag in 2019 when I realized that staying inside in front of a screen for all of Chicago winters pushed me into a depressive hole. And I couldn't let myself do that!
2 years ago, I didn't have any movement buddies, and now I have 5+ movement buddies.
When you have movement buddies, you're going to be able to have a system for movement in place and it's going to help your mental health. You'll always have people to talk to, you'll have a reason to go outside and leave the house, and you'll get to feel the sun on your skin, yes, even in winter. Having movement be a part of your day helps your mental health- it releases the happy chemicals!
Additionally, if you're not depressed right now but you're someone who struggles with mental health during certain seasons or seasons of life, NOW is the time to setup these systems so when that season comes, you have a system in place to manage it.
This is probably one of the best because you probably haven't seen your parents a ton over the pandemic, and your parents have probably been kinda sedentary over the pandemic too.
Here's how this works- you set a time to go for a 15 minute walk every day. Pick morning before work or pick afternoon after work. And then you call your mom or dad on the phone and walk n' talk with them. Social distancing while being social and walking a distance. Wonderful.
Since our pup Jameson got better from her vertigo thingy, we've been able to leave the house again! Paul had surgery on his heel at the end of 2019, and it's been a slow recovery! Last week, we started doing 20-30 min walks first thing in the morning before starting our work days. Today we woke up SUPER EARLY and did a 60 minute walk.
I love walking with my husband first thing in the morning because it guarantees we are spending time together without a screen in front of us. We get to explore our neighborhood together- which I love!
I drive to meet a friend because she lives near a super cool park and has easy parking! We've both have the vaccine, but we still wear our masks! We will walk for an hour and just chat about everything. Even if there's something heavy we chat about, the topic is productive and not a vent session or a therapy session! The focus is on us being outside, being with another person, and moving our bodies. We usually do the walk on the same time and day each week. Sometimes it changes, but keeping it the same increases the chances it will actually happen.
I have another friend who I walk/run with on Sundays! Sometimes we meet up in person, but sometimes we just chat on the phone! We've actually been doing this for over a year now! When we're on the phone, what's great is sometimes she is walking and I am running. Sometimes I am walking and she is running. Our pace doesn't matter because we're on the phone, and no one is left behind! Having it always be on Sunday makes sure it actually happens.
We used Meetup when we moved to Atlanta and didn't have friends, and I am starting to look on there now again. Meetup helps you find other people to meet up with! Some things are virutal- which cool, you can find someone to chat with on the phone. And some things are in person- mask up!
As I've been looking on there these last few days, I found a few walking and running groups that *may* start to meet together in the next few weeks, and I found a new friend to run with!
I learned this the hard way! Especially if you're going walking first thing in the morning, you don't want your first chat to be about how terrible the world is right now. This isn't saying you won't ever talk about the pandemic, politics, systemic racism, protests, immigration, or mass shootings ever. It's just that you're not going to talk about super heavy things during your movement sessions. You want the movement session to give you hope about the day and not weigh you down.
Some topics that are good: Where are you walking today? What are you seeing? What's something good that happened yesterday? Are you looking forward to anything today?
When things are going well, it's the time to set things up for when things will not be going well. If you're feeling great right now, take note of what helps you feel great and create a system around it so that when winter hits again, when there's a pandemic again, when races close up again, you are okay. Create systems to help you when shit hits the fan.
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