Challenge 2 Depression Hacks: From going outside to getting some exercise (Easy does it)

It's quite bright out here isn't it?

It’s quite bright out here isn’t it?

According to research, aerobic exercise encourages your amygdalae to get their groove on, helps your hippocampus get happy & lays some love on your limbic system ( *all accurate scientific descriptions). Which is good to know.  What is not so good is that, for some of us, at the very time these brain-parts most need this boost we are using up most of our energy doing necessary activities such as moving between the sofa and bathroom, and conserving the rest for visits to the kitchen and back.  Sweet irony of ironies.

*Ok, this is a lie, you can find the proper science-y stuff here.

I’ve been thinking about this as I fight the good fight for fitness, so when I spotted an article on Facebook, hailing exercise as a good way to tackle depression I wondered why they had paired it with a picture of a well-kitted-out glossy haired sprinter.  Come on now I thought know your audience.  It’s one step at a time people.  Being outside and running and looking all sprightly?  They’re  massive things when you’re dogged by the black dog. Let’s break it all down a bit…

Hmm...definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

Hmm…definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

FIRST STEPS:   A reasonably achievable aim is a short walk around a park, or  a short shuffle down a street with some nice trees if you don’t happen to live next to a park.  If this is a step too far then you could aim for a slow walk to the shop looking forwards instead of at the pavement.  You don’t even have to go into the shop…but you could take your hood down.  And if you’ve yet to crack simply going outside (never mind moving around out there)  & you’re really lucky like me you might have a lovely friend who will assure you that you don’t have to stay outside for more than 10 minutes, then drive you to a large pub garden, sit with you at a table away from other human life forms and let you look at trees and ducks and stuff in silence for as long as you’re able.  Then take you home. Usually well after your 10 minutes has elapsed.

NEXT STEPS:  Unless you were an athlete before the black dog bit, you are as likely to hit a sprint during the throes of depression as you are to find a unicorn in the cupboard when you go to find your trainers.  There are exceptions of course and if you can work up a run, go for it.  If you’re like me that’s not going to happen until you’ve managed to shrug off your dressing gown for a good day or two, in which case you could get active indoors to start with.  I’ve looked up a few sites where you can follow an instructor without worrying that you will have the added worry of an audience if you flake/panic/need a nap after 2 minutes.

You could try this not- so- glossy but calm and gentle yoga-for-beginners   or this low-impact vid  which is quite sweet and involves some clapping – a cheery kind of activity I suppose.

If you feel a bit more lively a chap called Jared has put together this selection of zumba videos  which I’m struggling to watch more than a few seconds of because my laptop is being temperamental (eg. s***) but I thought I’d leave them here anyway because there’s links to a few other workouts on the site if these don’t float your boat.

Personally I managed to get moving now and again with the very-smiley Davina’s High Energy Five Workout DVD, mainly because it was the only workout DVD I owned.  It’s brutal in parts but the 5 different sessions are 15 mins each. I did one session of a day. Sometimes.  Mainly I just did the warm-up 🙂

MOVING ON:  You might be able to skip straight ahead to this or you might need time on the above to help you work up to it.  Communicating effectively with other humans is a necessary part of overcoming or recovering from depression, so any activity that brings you into contact with your fellow life forms is good.  Start with something short and gentle, but try a class, you’ll only encounter small talk, nobody’s going to start asking probing questions – unless you turn up in your dressing gown, which I would advise you not to.

Obviously I am only an expert in my own breed of black dog so this is all based on my experiences, the key is to be kind to yourself and do just enough to feel a sense of achievement.  The ten minute rule’s a good one though…

And just so you know, I’m not trying to distract from my own fitness antics.  I’ve managed two gym sessions so far this week.  I’m trying to build up the time I can spend running rather than simply wiggling uphill on the treadmill.  It would be lovely to tell you that I am a glowing picture of health, but in truth my bones hurt and I look knackered.  Mood’s pretty chipper still though.

I’ve been checking out and I think I’m going to give it a go starting from tomorrow, wish me luck.

That is all.



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