Life can really knock you down sometimes. For me I am most likely going to be swimming up a stream backwards with my head under water (yeah, that’s my version of being knocked down!) when I don’t balance things. Too much focus on one thing and not enough on another=eventual break down. Due to my love of doing new things, being social and acting on a whim, I can often forget one (or several) compartment(s) of my life. I tend to overload on one thing (“go hard or go home” was always my motto in college) meaning some little boxes in my soul don’t get attention. And then they get mad. And we have a problem. I can usually function for a while in this way but there will always be a moment when I snap out of it. The resulting action can be positive (I realize what is happening and adjust accordingly) or negative (I have a panic attack)…its a toss-up.
I have found that exercise is my cure-all! I spent the better part of my life working out at an intense level. As a swimmer early in the morning and after school in the afternoon I would jump into a cold pool. I spent hours staring at a black line on the bottom of the lane, repetitively doing laps. This seems boring as I write it but it was therapeutic for me. It was what I looked forward to when I had a bad day because I literally was able to shut off the world (easy when your head is submerged under water) and turn off the turbine speed wheels in my head. The best was after these long workouts, when I would feel those endorphins kicking in. I was calmer about whatever was bothering me, or I would feel able to tackle whatever it was I was wrestling with.
Although I am no longer on a swim team, and I am not waking up in the mornings to work out (thank god!), I still find that I NEED to get my heart rate up during the week to keep myself balanced. I will automatically know when I havent been on a run in a while because my mood reflects it. My thoughts piling up on my mental to do lists will begin to get the best of me.
Even with being aware of my need for exercise, it’s hard to make the time when there are millions of other things to do and not enough time to do even the most important tasks.
Lately, with my move to NYC, my job search, my financial situation, my friend search, my nomad lifestyle (is that enough yet…), I have not had time to even think of putting sneakers on my feet. I got into a pattern of sleep, work, food, bed. When I had an extra minute I tried to be social with friends and events, which I feel are important for the balance as well. But they also exhaust me and when I had no “me time” (exercise time) I was loosing myself. PS-when you’re job searching/selling your skills, losing yourself is the last thing you want to do.
(spoiler: a “snap-out-of-it” moment is about to happen)
I broke (snapped if you will) the other night. I had enough of my mind’s noise and enough of putting others first. I got home from work and although the sun was setting and my stomach wanted dinner, I laced up and went on a run. A real run ladies and gentlemen. Not a jog. A run. Full-out! It was exhilarating and when I got home again I had put the puzzle pieces together in my head, sorted out some issues I had pent-up, and was ready to get the rest of the week back to my terms! Please note that my problems were not SOLVED by a run, however, it did take my head out of the dark hole it was in.
Research shows that what I’m describing is nothing grandiose (here and here are articles on the subject). I realize I am not breaking any boundaries with this connection of exercise and stress. I, however, think that it is important to find our own balance and when we are over loading one part or another, we must get home and go for a run (so to speak)!