I grew up in a very chaotic household and as a result, have experienced anxiety and depression from a very young age. When I was 25, I experienced a mental health breakdown and was signed off from work, it’s here where I discovered fitness. I started running at the gym and have more recently found the positive benefits of yoga for my mental health. I am learning to comfort my anxious mind and allowing myself to discover inner peace. As I now approach 30, I am starting to truly discover what self-care means to me, although I set myself very high expectations, I am still reminding myself every day that I am still human and haven’t yet mastered ‘early morning habits of high achievers’ and honestly I probably never will… I like my sleep too much! But I am learning what’s best for me, and it takes time, I feel there should be less pressure on social media about what people should or shouldn’t be doing, and the focus needs to be shifted on to ‘what works best for you’, give yourself time to find that and be kind to yourself during the process.
I am not perfect; I sleep in when I can, I indulge in junk food occasionally and still can be incredibly hard on myself. But I balance this with self-care rituals; I know when to push myself to go for a run and when to watch rubbish TV (or do both). It can be very hard to find motivation but once you have found what works for you and have got out there and done it you will feel so much better. (Kind reminder: If you do fall off track from time to time, that’s also okay, you always have tomorrow!). I try and give myself a structure of how many times a week I want to work out and each day I will listen to what my body needs. Sometimes I will have the energy to do a HIIT workout and on others, I will just go for a slow jog or walk, but also getting outside can be incredibly beneficial to lift your mood.
Yoga is still very new to me – but already I can feel my body and mind feeling the positive effects of being more tuned in with my breath and the slower, mindful movements. I like to set myself challenges and so have been recently teaching myself how to do a headstand. Setting myself small challenges when working out can also be very motivating and boost my confidence once I have achieved what I set out to do. I can honestly say exercise has truly aided my recovery and healing and has given me purpose and meaning at times I felt I had none. It continues to be something that grounds me and that I can turn to when I am feeling particularly low in mood, and it always manages to cheer me up.
For anyone who is looking to start running, yoga or whatever exercise you may wish to do; try and set yourself some small achievable goals to begin with and go from there. There are so many great videos on YouTube for yoga to get you started including ‘Yoga with Adriene’ and ‘MadFit’ – who has a great 20-minute stretch video for stress and anxiety which I find really useful. Some great apps to get you feeling motivated for a run are ‘Couch to 5k’ and the ‘Nike Run Club’ – which I find really useful to show my progress and achievements. Also, I recommend ‘Headspace’ and the ‘Calm’ apps which are really helpful for when you want a moment of clarity and calm – whatever works for you, I would always say listen to what your body wants.
Lastly, be kind to yourself, always.
Written by Stephanie (@s_boreham)
Stephanie is a mental health blogger based in London. Stephanie draws upon her own lived experience of anxiety, depression, finding exercise and candidly shares helpful advice and words of reassurance for people who may be experiencing similar difficulties, both on her blog and Instagram in hopes to fight stigma and help people to feel less alone.
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