Advice please - Has anyone found exercise helps them with low mood/anxiety & if so how did you get started?(23 Posts)
Hi, I have a chronic health condition which is usually under control with medication. At times though it will flare up & it affects my mood so much, I become quite low & depressed & I start to worry about things a great deal.
My doctor has said it is fine & actually very important that I exercise to keep as fit as possible, however I find it extremely hard to motivate myself to do it.
I have joined a gym & they hAve lots of classes but I'm just too self-conscious to go to any as I am so unfit. A lot of the people who go are regulars & are very fit.
Also I find it hard to actually find the time to go as I work every day (part time), then school run etc, then evening I'm knackered,
Recently I've had a flare up & have felt really low. I have heard that exercise can help with this too but I just cAn't seem to find the motivation to get up & go, although it's not exactly what I feel like doing anyhow if I am going through a painful/exhausted phase.
My diet is could be better too but I find myself comfort eating & then I feel worse & ashamed of myself.
I would love to hear from anyone who suffers with low mood/anxiety & has found successful ways to combat its with exercise & diet. How do you find the energy to just do it?!
I want to be happy for my lovely family but right now feel like it's all a viscious circle & I don't know how to change.
Thank you for any suggestions.
I also have a chronic medical condition which can cause depression and anxiety and also comes in flares like yours. Late 2014 I decided I wanted to lose weight for my wedding (Spring 2015) and this gave me the drive to start exercising and eating better. To be honest once I started I began to feel better in myself and feel like i am actually achieving something when sometime with my medical condition I can feel abnormal or restricted. I think you need to find a target to help you get motivated and once you start seeing improvement you find it easier. I already walked a fair bit but I increased this (helpful having a dog) and also started doing some short dvds to improve my fitness slowly in the privacy of my own home, I now go to gyms when I am on holiday and don't feel that self conscious or out of place.I am the fittest and smallest I have been for 15 years and my condition is the best it has been since diagnosis in 2012. Do you have someone who you could maybe buddy up with and motivate each other? Most beginners classes everyone will be just as worried as you. What about something like pilates or yoga to begin with which is low impact. I think I rambled here but I had a lot to say. Sorry.
To be honest, all you need to aim for at the start is some light cardio. Even if all you do is get on a treadmill for 5-10 minutes you will start to feel the benefit of it on your mood.
I think it's important not to set yourself up with goals as all it does is make you feel worse if/when you can't do as much as your "goal". I always have to go through the palaver of the induction where they set you a goal then I go in and go at my own pace and basically do what I want or feel able to.
I also don't think there's any specific excercise that helps, more important that you do something that you feel able to do. Maybe if you're not up to going to a gym,etc at the end of the day get a dvd out once the DC are in bed and do some excercise that way. Yoga is pretty good for relaxation - check out some of the apps available. Good luck!
DH and I have both had depression - mine due to acquiring a disability and an associated chronic pain problem.
Exercise really helps both of us. He has discovered a love of cycling, and I run (though I cycle and swim as well).
Thank you all for your replies, it really helps to hear from people who understand. I think part of my hesitation is lack of confidence & also thinking I won't ever be able to get properly fit. As you said nmg85 I sometimes feel abnormal & doubt that I'll be able to do anything so don't bother trying!
I did have a gym induction hudyer &even though I explained about my condition I don't think the guy took any notice as what he got me to do was just too hard for me & so I never went back to do it again.
I like the idea of just going & doing whatever I want/can, something is better than nothing I guess.
That's exactly what kept happening to me (I seem to have to have one every time I rejoin!) - this time I went along with it (whilst thinking 45 minutes? Ha! I think not...) then just did - and still do - the "free training" for as little or as long as I liked. It's annoying that they don't listen to you, especially for you when you've had a specific issue that you've explained.
Do try something though but really aim to only do a little and build it up. Apart from anything if you overdo it that also puts you off.
Forgot to mention about diet. I also comfort eat, then feel physically and mentally worse. All I can say is that when I do exercise more often it can be easier not to overeat for fear of undoing all the hard work. That and stock up on healthier snacks! Eating better will help your mood too as your blood sugar spiking all over the place plays havoc with mood swings (bitter experience!)
Thanks hudyer, yes I was a bit fed up that he didn't listen to me as he just made me feel like my problems were irrelevant. It's hard because I look 'normal' so people can't see anything wrong with me. I think I do just need to do my own thing & not aim too high to start with.
Can you suggest any healthy snacks? All I can ever think of that's easy is fruit but find that gets a bit boring. At work there is a vending machine & if I'm having a bad day I find myself drawn to it & getting chocolate which I know is the worst thing to do. Can't seem to help it though, it's just comforting.
I go for a 20 min walk every morning. It starts me off for the day and gets me some fresh air and daylight. I usually end up doing my 10,000 steps by the end of the day.
I can't face the gym as I end up comparing myself to non disabled people which makes me feel crap.
Yeah, fruit does get a it dull. And it's especially hard to resist the chocolate-laden vending machine, I know. I really struggle with comfort eating.
There is stuff in the shops but you have to be careful about it being loaded with sugar if it claims to be non or low fat. Best thing is something as unrefined and unprocessed as possible - which unfortunately comes back to fruit!
It depends on what your likes are too. Get some ideas from books, online - MN recipes! Just search for "healthy" and you can usually refine the results to "snacks"(online,I mean, haven't checked out MN recipes yet) Davina's no sugar cookbook is pretty good and there are other similar ones out there.
Doing your research, about diet and exercise, is half the battle.
Bit late to this but I recently joined a woman's only gym and it has been wonderful. Its a circuit, and they give you a work out, and support. My mental health is pretty bad and this has kept me going these past two months, lost a stone as well. Non threatening, very supportive I don't feel anxious or self conscious and as into through the day its often just me which is even better. I also go for a short walk in the evening too which helps.
Also late to this but have you tried doing exercise things at home? I've been doing videos from Fitness Blender since mid August. You can choose the length, how hard it will be, what kind of exercise. It's free, and there's no music, so I put on something I like while I'm doing it. They have a nice positive attitude and never say anything about bikini bodies or losing weight, it's all about feeling good, having more energy etc. I sometimes have low level anxiety and low moods (hormonal) but have found these great, even if I just do ten minutes here and there. Walking also great for me - it's a bit mood lift just to be outside. Hope you find something.
I'd recommend yoga or pilates - both low impact and they're not fast so you can do them at your own pace. A good teacher will show you how to modify the exercises to your capabilities. And they have a nice sort of healing feel which I find almost as helpful as the endorphins or whatever it is that physiologically makes exercise feel good.
For cardio you could try the nhs couch to 5k - I don't think there's any reason why you can't do it on a treadmill as well as outside? And reward yourself with a sauna or steam bath afterwards (also good for the health)!
What I actually did was to join a gym without a clue what I was doing, and it took me about 18 months to figure out how to run for more than 12 minutes. However, even that helped with the mood.
I totally get where you're coming from
I find most cardio workouts impossible (even the easy ones) and really not enjoyable. I know if I persist it ought to become easier but it's so discouraging at the moment. I used to swim miles and do intensive circuit training no problem
Instead I've started a home Body Pump challenge which lasts 13 weeks. It comes with a timetable which keeps me on track and I absolutely love it. I've done it loads before in a gym environment but this is the first time I've tried at home. You do need particular kit (a barbell and weights, crucially) but I managed to source mine cheaply on ebay locally. The beauty is that you start with light, manageable weights and build it up as you become stronger/ want to challenge yourself The first week's workouts are just 20mins each to get you used to it.
I've also started 'Yoga with Adrienne', free on Youtube. Check out her channel, she has loads of videos of varying lengths. There's one called yoga for beginners, as well as 5-10 minute videos of individual poses if you just want a little taster. There's a 30 day series too, I'm up to day 5 I found day one and two a bit awkward as i'm so inflexible and out of practice but today I realised I'm already making progress. I enjoyed it so much yesterday that I finished day 3 and did day 4 straight afterwards. The videos are only 15-30mins long.
Once I've completed these two challenges (simultaneously) and feel more confident I hope to start a cardio challenge!
Exercising at home is completely new to me but I'm finding it quite liberating. I agree with PP that just doing little and often is the way to go. If you keep at it it soon builds up and you can surprise yourself. It's also helping with my urge to comfort eat, I feel like I'm doing something productive and am less willing to sabotage myself.
I would definitely stick to less than 30mins to start you off. I've heard good things about the Davina dvds, 'Fit in 15' or whatever as you can just add small chunks together as you progress.
I absolutely hate running but as a compromise I found walking on a treadmill to be pretty effective. I set an incline then do intervals of normal walking and brisk walking - you can do this manually or select a program. The key thing is to make sure you're exerting yourself, raising your heart rate for continuous bursts with gentle recovery in between, e.g. 30 sec brisk, 30 sec gentle walking. I like to do similar on the stepper too. Ten minutes is enough at first and is definitely achievable! Equally if you do 5 mins on four cardio machines you've already worked out continuously for 20 mins
Finally (this has become a bit of an essay) I'm using a free app called Map My Walk on my phone. It records your walk and gives you stats. You can also set challenges such as weekly distance achieved etc. I'm finding it quite motivating and it's encouraging to keep a log of my walks.
I also empathise with the gym issue. I've never really had that much respect for gym inductions. I get that they have to show you the machines for health and safety but I've just never found the 'assessment' conducive to developing a good gym routine, so don't feel bad on that score...
is there any chance of swapping to a women-only gym or are you locked in a contract?
Personally I've always preferred (non-aerobic!) group classes to the cardio/ weights studio, are there any marked as beginner on the timetable? My last gym was similarly off-putting in that the classes were 99% full of 20-something gym bunnies wearing revealing clothing. I bit the bullet and booked a variety of Body Pump classes (something I knew I enjoyed) led by different instructors to get a feel for whose style I liked. Trust me there are differences! I also tried their yoga offering but all classes were led by the same instructor who was just too serious and continually made an example of me to the rest of the (more experienced) class - embarrassing and not very relaxing
If you find an instructor you like don't feel embarrassed to ask them which other classes they teach on the timetable.
I would totally recommend walking - ideally somewhere nice and green. Being outside is really good for lifting the mood.
Hi Jemster, you're certainly not alone in those feelings. Yoga has kept me going through some really tough times. It calms me when I feel stressed and energises me when I feel down, closed and lethargic. Maybe you could attend a few different yoga classes in your area. Please try a few out though, as teachers and yoga styles vary wildly! It would help the teacher if you explained how you are feeling before the class.
I also totally agree with Imbroglio! Walking outside is great for lifting spirits and easing tension.
God yes, running!
I'm not fast, at all. But I can set the world to rights (in my head) on my 15-20 minute jog. I'm not sure of the nature of your condition, but my/friends' experience is that being fitter and stronger is always a good thing, and getting blood pumping round your body helps.
I also think running is even better for your head than your body.
Start with C25k, it does ease you into it.
For making myself go when I want to do anything but: I try and remind myself how I'll feel when I'm finished - great and accomplished! And it means I can do whatever I'd rather be doing guilt free. I realised I would sometimes spend an hour or two putting it off, then realised that if I just went, I'd be back in 20 minutes, job done.
Then after a few weeks you realise how much stronger you've got, and fitter, and you have more confidence. You sleep better, so you feel better anyway. You can listen to audiobooks or whatever and use the time productively.
One day when you're out you realise that you've been jogging along for 5 minutes without thinking "ouch", you were just listening to your programme/thinking through a work situation, letting your legs do their thing without having to think about it.
Someone on here recommended a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross:
I bought it and incorporated the eating and some of the supplements into my lifestyle about 6 weeks ago. I also started a 6 week exercise programme at a ladies only gym which is in small groups.
The combination is making me feel amazing so would heartily recommend.
Yup - I find that running and cutting down on sugar have a very positive effect on my mood. I used to suffer from anxiety, but very rarely feel anxious any more.
Billy Blanks' Tae Bo DVDs are great for exercising at home and feeling better! Tae Bo/body combat type things are good for starting out as you can put as much effort into punches/kicks as you feel able and in the comfort of your own home you can look as silly as you like, pause for water etc. Definitely helps me with low mood.
Work through couch to 5k and of course everyone is welcome at parkrun, both in real life and on our positive parkrunners support thread
Baby steps, you will soon feel a difference, exercise help me with the winter blues
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