This week is Mental Health Week. I thought I would share one of the main things I do for my mental health. I have suffered with anxiety in the past, and it is still always there in the background, occasionally flaring up as if to remind me to take better care of myself.
Last week I went back to the gym after a month, and if I am honest I have barely been there at all in the past three months. The moment I walked back in to the gym I felt the guilt about not prioritising my health. I felt like everyone was looking at me knowing that I hadn’t been there for so long. I couldn’t help but feel self conscious.
I jumped on to the treadmill and started it up, I started walking and felt my shoulders drop, my face relax, my tension slowly melt away. I am fairly sure I let out a sigh of relief to be back there. The hum of the treadmill is my happy place. It felt hard, my fitness had diminished quickly. I reminded myself that I must make the gym, or any type of exercise, part of my routine again.
Jumping on the treadmill a few times a week has been such an important time out for me over the last four years. I started going when second daughter was around 8 months old. The gym has a great creche and so I used to leave my daughter in the creche and go to a weekly yoga classes and the occasional treadmill walk, followed by coffee at the gym coffee shop with a close friend. If I hadn’t had my friend to have a coffee with afterwards I am not sure I would have ever got in to a routine of going. I continued going throughout my pregnancy with my son and started back again when he was 12 weeks old. It gave me the space I so desperately needed in the early months.
I can always tell when I haven’t been to the gym for a while. I get irritable, I find my anxiety flaring up and I feel restless. The gym gives me some time to be alone. Time for me. Time to let go of stress. Time to be able to let go of having to be constantly watching and listing out for my children. Time to have a coffee alone afterwards!
Last week, going back after a month long break felt like coming home, like a big release of energy. I am sure my mental health thanked me for getting back to it, for prioritising my health and my mental health again. I am guessing my family are thankful too.
Do you do any exercise? How does it help you?