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Improving low mood with exercise - looking for some inspiration & motivation to get started please

(11 Posts)
Jemster Sun 11-Jan-15 10:14:06

My mood is really low at times and I am on AD's but I have heard that exercise can really make a difference so have decided now is the time to get started. I have a health condition which is under control but can make me tired & in pain so this definitely contributes to the low mood. I work part time and when not working have my 7 & 2 yr old who are full on!
Sometime I feel like I am trapped either with them or at work & I need to find something just for me.
The other day I went to our local gym to enquire about membership & even just sitting in the lounge area with a coffee for ten minutes with the gym lady minus children made me feel relaxed!! It is a no children gym and dh would be happy for me to sign up if it helps me, it's a Nuffield gum so has pool & classes too. The thing is because i feel tired and down quite a bit the last thing I feel like doing is exercise. How can I motivate myself?

Has anyone else felt like this & found exercise or just having something for themselves has really helped? Thanks

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 11-Jan-15 10:38:57

It can be hard to get motivated to go, but once you're there you generally feel glad you did.

If it helps decide in advance when you will go (obviously fitting it around childcare and other commitments) and look at it like another commitment that you have to go to. Maybe book into a class so it feels like you have an appointment.

If it gets to the time when you should be going, but feel really de-motivated remember that you are more likely to regret not going than going. My motto is "you will never regret a workout" and as I said above once you are there you will be glad you did.

I know it helps my moods. Last weekend I was tearing down the walls due to my lack of exercise over the school holidays (childcare meaning I couldn't go at my usual times) and I feel much more relaxed and better with myself after a good workout.

Mumski45 Sun 11-Jan-15 10:48:28

Jemster

The hardest part is making the decision to start and getting out for the first time.
The trick then is to start of in a sensible way and whilst you need to push yourself a little don't expect too much to soon.

After your first session set yourself a target to do a bit more/ last a bit longer or push a little bit harder than you did before and you will start to feel proud of yourself and want to go again.

You will be surprised at how quickly you can make improvements in your stamina and strength if you start off with small achievable goals.

This is why couch 2 5k works well for new runners.
You start of running for say 1 min then walking, then running again for 1 min. Then the next time you try running for 1 1/2 or 2 mins before walking etc.
I started this in Jan 2012 after telling myself I couldn't run for about 40 years. 9 months later I had lost 2 1/2 stone and ran a half marathon.
It can be done.

Showy Sun 11-Jan-15 10:52:36

I started seriously exercising after having my first (7yo, also have a 3yo so similar to you). I did it for the same reason as you. I was struggling with PND and feeling very demotivated and lost. Starting was the hardest bit.

7 years later and I still exercise for the exact same reasons. I work out most days and I work out harder now than I ever have done. The endorphins, the adrenalin, the pride I feel in the achievement, it's all worth it.

My best piece of advice for you, is to do something you are going to enjoy. For some people the gym isn't the right place and really, they'd get more out of buying a bike or learning to climb or getting a unicycle or taking up hiking. Lots of people thing about doing exercise and start running or going to a circuit class twice a week and the actual exercise bores them rigid. It's a really good sign that you like the gym and enjoyed just visiting. I really would make the most of it. As part of your induction, try absolutely everything. You might surprise yourself by what you find most empowering. I'd love to join a gym but because I'd use the free weights which are infinitely more varied than mine. DH was a personal trainer for years and lots of people go to the gym, do 20 minutes on a treadmill, 20 minutes on a rower and then sit in the steam room. Three times a week, every week with no variation. Which is fine if you're happy but ultimately, it doesn't improve your fitness and often I talk to people who do it out of obligation and feel a bit demoralised by 'having' to do it. A decent fitness instructor will listen to you and write a programme for you which fits with what you want.

The actual act of exercise can make you feel mentally well but the added challenge of having a goal within it is good too. The sense of achievement when you've lifted heavier/built better tone/run further or faster/managed to swim two more lengths is a nice added layer to the positivity achieved through merely exercising. Would you feel comfortable with setting yourself some little goals? It doesn't have to be weight loss necessarily, which a lot of people get hung up on. Again, a decent fitness instructor can encourage you in small, achievable goals and it will keep you going back and cheer you up no end. No rush, but worth thinking about how you'd like to challenge yourself.

I can't recommend exercising enough. Honestly, of course I do it because I like to look better too but the main reason I put on my trainers every day is because my mental health thanks me for it.

Jemster Sun 11-Jan-15 19:48:38

Thank you all for your encouraging replies. It's interesting to hear how people notice the difference in their mood when they're not able to exercise.

Showy how did you make yourself get started & how did you manage to keep at it? Was it because you felt noticeably better in your mood/mental wellbeing? When do you do your exercise to fit around the children? I'm just so tired in the evenings.

It's so long since I did proper exercise I'm a bit worried about going to a gym as I will be embarrassingly unfit!
Could I do the couch 2 5k approach on the treadmill? I like that idea of starting with a minute of running then walking as that's probably all I could manage!
I think the only times I can really go are the evenings when dh is home but of course the cold dark nights do not help motivate me!!
I haven't joined up to the gym yet & am still pondering as it is quite a lot of money each month & they said you have to sign up for 12 months. Thing that appealed though was the support they offer, tailor a program to suit me etc. Also like the idea of classes again with an instructor although am a bit worried I will be self conscious as so unfit!
To be honest I also like the idea of having somewhere to escape to when it gets too much at home or going for a soothing swim or sauna if my joints are aching.

What do you reckon, shall I sign up?
I'll feel even more down if I end up not going & wasting the money won't I!!

ThursdayLast Sun 11-Jan-15 20:02:14

I think you should go for it!

Showy Sun 11-Jan-15 22:33:34

Do you know what, I just made a decision and I did it. I knew that I was on day one of my life involving exercise and that was it. I think that conviction comes from inside yourself and only you can find it. I also think that you already have it. You sound pretty determined to me. It was hard at first. Post dd I was pretty unfit and even running 100 yards was hard. But then on day 2, I hadn't given up. And on day 3, it was becoming something I did and it hurt and I felt ridiculous but I wasn't stopping. And a few days later, I could do 100 yards and then 200 and now I am actually at a point where I can say, you know what, I'm fit. I really am.

I actually don't think you should join the gym atm. Mainly because you sound like you're already afraid of being unfit and "failing". I think that's the wrong attitude to take into it. Particularly in January. It's easy to be spurred on by new year/post Christmas but to struggle with the reality of it. Though, if you know it's right, get to it.

Instead, would you consider saying to yourself, right I'm going to boost my fitness on my own time and then join the gym once I know I'm feeling better? Home fitness dvds, if you get the right ones, are absolutely worth their weight in gold. Few pounds and you have a workout you can do over and over again, in your own time and in the privacy of your own home. Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred for example is 20 minutes a day and ruddy effective at kick starting your fitness. My 3yo works out with me or he watches a dvd/reads a book/plays with playdough/whatever. Work out in the morning (after the school run works for me) and it's done, it's not hanging over you.

Davina has a new DVD out which is called 7 minute fit. It has 10 7 minute workouts on it. You can do one or you can do two or you can do 10 of them (as I did today in fact, I can barely walk). They're based on High Intensity Intervals and you can change it up, just do one if you're short of time, do a few if you can. It's utterly manageable and I think if you set yourself the goal of doing it at home, when it suits you and you start to see results, then you'll find it's time to invest in the gym if you still think it's right for you. I have all of Davina's DVDs and some of Jillian Michaels'. I really rate them.

You could not shell out the gym money straight away and look at local fitness classes too. Just to dip a toe in the water and prove to yourself that you can commit. You don't have to jump straight in to full gym membership if you are going to feel the financial and other pressures it might bring. It'll still be there in a couple of months.

ge0101 Tue 13-Jan-15 09:09:16

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mumski45 Tue 13-Jan-15 12:40:10

Have a look at some of these stories.

This Girl Can

sleepwhenidie Tue 13-Jan-15 23:00:16

Jemster I think the advice you've received from Showy is excellent. I'd just add that it will probably take a certain amount of willpower to actually do the exercise for a while (and even on the occasional day after thatsmile).

Try and remember that even 15-20 minutes will have a benefit and the more regularly you do it, the easier and the more of a habit it will become.

Giving yourself a choice of things to do can also be good, instead of 'I'm going to the gym tomorrow' change it to I'll do some exercise but whatever I feel most like doing, gym/yoga/ swim/walk/DVD, somehow it makes it feel more of a free will thing than an obligation! Reward yourself with a sauna/coffee/magazine afterwards if necessary!

The other thing worth keeping in mind is that getting outside is hugely beneficial to our emotional/mental health, so take every opportunity to get out and in contact with nature, if you can combine it with exercise of some sort then even better smile

GetLow Fri 16-Jan-15 15:56:23

Hiya OP.

I have suffered with serious depression for years. Have started exercising in fits and bursts over the years, but never kept it up. Like you work, small children, a health condition and low mood/low confidence always stopped me in my tracks.

I decided to give it a proper go again three weeks ago. I joined a low cost gym and decided to commit to going three times a week for 45 minutes each session. I was terrified the first time I went in and felt self conscious and pathetically unfit and just scared. I started with a couple of sessions where I just walked on the treadmill and did some very light weights, and realised I felt a lot better after this. I then braved a yoga class....then a stretch & tone class...then then a body combat class. I went five times the first week (who me? The gym phobe?!) and within that first seven days, I felt SO much better about everything. I WISH I had taken the many people who have said to me over the years 'exercise improves mood' more seriously years ago!

Three weeks of going four-five times a week has reduced my anxiety hugely, cleared my mind quite a bit (less of that mentally fuzzy, 'walking through treacle' feeling I suffer from). It has made mornings easier - I have more energy and dont wake up feeling that awful sense of dread I have lived with for years. It has also had loads of other positive knock-on effects. I'm drinking less booze, eating better, feeling more sociable and it has given me a huge boost actually deciding to do something and then sticking to it this far (OK its only three weeks, but thats huge for me!). Its been the best 'medicine' I have ever taken - better than meds, CBT, mindfulness etc. Seriously.

My advice would be:

Identify the time you are free to go to the gym each week. Be assertive about arranging this 'me time' with your DP/DH if you have one. Or get the childcare sorted. Then write down in your diary (or i write it on a piece of paper and stick it on my bedroom door) the days you are going to go and GO on these days. I tick off each time i go and its great to look back and see what you did the previous week and feel pleased with yourself.

Stop viewing it as a chore or something you 'should' do because its 'good for you' and start to reframe it in your mind as a luxury, pampering thing. This is something that is going to be GREAT for you. Its going to make you feel better. It will be tough at first, but you are quickly going to start finding it easier and/or enjoying the buzz of setting yourself small goals in the gym and reaching them.

See if you can find a gym really close to where you live, so that the journey is straightforward.

Have an induction at the gym so you know how to use the equipment and are familiar with the layout. Makes it all less daunting.

Google a basic beginners gym routine and try it out. I do 10 mins treadmill, 5 min deep stretches, 20 mins weights, 10 mins treadmill again. Cardio/stretching/weights is a good basic rule of thumb for improving overall fitness and getting your whole body feeling better.

Mix up gym session with classes. I get bored of the gym and can only manage two sessions a week, but i am having fun trying out new classes. Some of them have been tough (I'm usually the red faced breathless mess at the back of the class!), but at least I'm not bored.

Good luck! It has already changed my life in such a short time, I cannot tell you x

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