One of the most difficult things that I have had to deal with as a writer is the daily fight with demons. They’re called Doubt.
- Doubt I’ll come up with a topic today.
- Doubt I’ll ever be a good writer.
- Doubt I’ll ever be a published writer.
- Doubt anyone will read what I write.
- Doubt anyone will be interested in my writing.
On and on it goes. Those doubting demons attack daily. And so, before I can ever write a word, I have to fight.
FIGHT DEPRESSION WITH YOUR FISTS!
by Tanzy Chandler
“I start each day with prayer and God reminds me that, “He has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND”
I first started noticing symptoms of depression in my third year of college. I was used to being an athlete, but since starting college I wasn’t playing any team sports because of schedule conflicts and I started noticing a feeling of constant fatigue and low energy. I was easily overwhelmed by the simplest tasks. I was losing interest in the activities I once loved and started feeling hopeless about my future. It was all very gradual. There was no traumatic event. As far as I could tell, I had no reason to be sad, yet I was.
I started seeing a counsellor which I found to be helpful, but over the years the depression became more and more paralyzing. I was numb on the inside, just going through the motions of life.
Then, after a back injury, my doctor encouraged me to start exercising in order to strength my back and lose weight, so I started riding my bike a couple days a week and I was reminded that my body was craving physical activity. But a leisurely bike ride was not enough. The more I exercised, the more intense I needed the exercise to be. I joined a group led by a trainer who incorporated weights in a circuit training style cluster of functional exercises. I quickly became one of the strongest in the group, in part, because I was driven to push myself to heavier weights and more challenging exercises. After being with that group for a few years I later discovered crossfit, which is defined as functional movement, constantly varied at high intensities. It combines HIIT, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and plyometrics. Every single crossfit workout gave me that natural exercise high that I was craving.
After an intense workout my mood almost instantly improves. Exercise has been known to cause a release of endorphins in the body which increases the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. My husband always tells me that he can tell when I’ve had a good workout because I come back from the gym smiling. Those chemicals are directly connected to our mental health. Our bodies were designed to move!! THAT IS HOW GOD CREATED US.
Our mental, physical and emotional health are all intertwined, so exercise is critical for a strong mind. It may not be weight lifting for everybody, but I’ve found that lifting weights releases the right amount of endorphins which starts that positive chemical chain reactions that improves my mental health.
In 2015 I had foot surgery and I was very concerned about my mental health during my required bed rest period. I knew that weight lifting and high intensity exercises were my “antidepressants”, and was afraid of how my mood would change without the ability to stay active. My doctor prescribed antidepressants during that time to help my mood while I was recovering. To be honest, I’m not really sure how much it really helped. Maybe a little, but they were no substitute for my exercise routine. After being on the meds for a year, I gained 15 pounds and wasn’t nearly as mentally at peace as I had been while I was exercising. Once my surgeon cleared me to begin lifting weights again, I weaned off the medication and signed up for my first crossfit competition. The weekly training required to prepare me for the competition was just what my mind and body needed.
If you are reading this and you are struggling with depression then I highly recommend that you begin exercising regularly–3 days a week at minimum. Find a trainer or fitness friend that can teach you how to incorporate lifting weight safely and effectively into your routine. Not only will it improve your mental health, it will also strengthen your body and help you to manage your activities of daily living with more ease. The key, however, is consistency. You can’t do it once in a while; you must do it regularly in order to see the benefits.
I start each day with prayer and God reminds me that, “He has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND,”so I can attack each day with hope and courage!
- Check out K’s Monday Mayhem series for more #mondaymorningmotivation
- Check out Tanzy’s YouTube channel for exercises with punch! Revamp Fitness Arms & Shoulders
- If you struggle with depression check out What Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety